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  • 6 ways to teach your child a foreign language this summer

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    Summer is a great time to expose your child to a foreign language. Here are 6 fun ways to do it in Chicago.

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    Worried your child might be losing her immersion language skills over the summer? Are you teaching your family language and eager to find new ways to connect your child to your family language? Parents of children learning other languages, whether through school, nannies or family, will find these ideas helpful to give their kids critical language exposure and support their development this summer.

    1. Get books! You can find bilingual books and books in world languages at your local Chicago Public Library, on Amazon, or through publishing houses like Tulika Books, Penguin Random House and many others listed on the Colorín Colorado website. Challenge your child to make these books part of a summer reading challenge.

    2. Do the weekly word challenge. Have your child pick a word in the target language, maybe an animal you saw at the zoo or a word in a book. Do a themed craft project around it (toilet paper roll zoo animals, anyone?), write it in fun ways for practice, or illustrate or write a story around it!

    3. Download apps and learning games. Games and apps pique the interest of kids and can provide rich learning opportunities in moderation. Traditional language learning apps like Duolingo and Mindsnacks provide fun, gamified experiences for older children. Young children are likely to be intrigued by alphabet games and language-rich YouTube videos. User tip: Extend the learning in the app by asking kids to use what they learned in real life (to write and illustrate a story, to act out a play, to teach a sibling) and pause at moments in videos that grab your child’s interest to make passive learning interactive.

    4. Visit language-rich places. There’s no better way to make the language come alive than to go to a place where it’s spoken. That could mean taking a trip to Taiwan or San Juan, but it could also be a weekend afternoon out eating, shopping, and experiencing places like Chinatown, Devon Avenue or Pilsen.

    5. Sign them up for events and camps. If you are crunched for time but want kids to have an intensive experience, check in with cultural and religious organizations for camps, Chicago Public Library for bilingual offerings or look into options like Concordia Language Villages or STARTALK programs.

    6. Join us at Foreign Language 411! Come to NPN’s upcoming event on Tuesday, July 25 from 6–7:30pm at GEMS World Academy to learn more about bilingualism and best practices for teaching language to your child. You’ll get info and tips, as well as the chance to socialize with other parents, equipping you with fresh ideas for extending learning this summer and beyond.

    Happy language learning!

    Jennifer Decker is a former teacher turned entrepreneur at FamLing Design developing products that multilingual families can use to make family language teaching easier and fun. She speaks five languages and is a kid-declared pro at gamifying homework time. She has an M.S.Ed from the University of Pennsylvania and has worked in education in Germany, the U.S. and India.

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    The NPN blog gives voice to our members' thoughts about parenting in the city, and the views expressed don't necessarily reflect our own. Want to write for us? Email laura@npnparents.org with your topic ideas.

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