Fun Activities for Teaching a Foreign Language

j'ai du chocolat

photo by Roxanne Cooke

Whether you are teaching Spanish, Latin, French, Japanese, or Pidgin this year, there are numerous curriculum providers to choose from. We are using Rosetta Stone this year for High School Spanish, and Prima Latina for elementary Latin with my second grader. What brings us together, though, is fun activities we do for both languages.

Through games and playtimes, my girls are both enhancing the curriculum used for their language and picking up vocabulary for the foreign language their sister is learning. Here are some of the fun things we can do together.

Movies and Television

Most DVD’s and TV’s have an option to change the spoken language and/or subtitles. Watching an old favorite in a new language is sure to bring some giggles, but it is surprising how much vocabulary is picked up! Though we’ve yet to find Latin as a language choice, Spanish is pretty much always available.

Read Alouds

Go back to kindergarten and some of your old children’s favorites. Cat in the Hat in Latin, I Love You Forever in Spanish… why not? Check out your library, ours has an extensive Spanish section and we’ve found many a picture book to read for fun there. It is helpful to start with well-known books or stories, that way your child will recognize more of what is going on. However, it’s fun to try a new story once in a while, too and figure out how much you can translate.

Bingo

We found a Spanish Bingo game called La Loteria on Olvera Street, a little Mexican town. I’ve found that while reading out the cards, my girls are more likely to use an accent without feeling silly or self-conscious and games like these help develop proper pronunciation without making them feel put on the spot. If you can’t find a Bingo game in your language, then make your own! You can use vocabulary, colors, numbers, occupations, common phrases, and more.

Dramatic Play

Go back to kindergarten again with this one. Acting out grocery store, going on a bus trip, playing “house,” “office,” or other ordinary activities and using as much vocabulary as you can is fun and develops their confidence in communicating.

Restaurants

If you can find a foreign-speaking restaurant in your area, patronize it and encourage your kids to order in the language. My college Spanish teacher took us students to a Spanish restaurant and required us to order in Spanish for our final grade. We had a great time and I got a confidence boost that I could handle myself in Spanish. Fun! If there are no restaurants near you that speak the language you’re learning, (anyone find a Latin restaurant?) why not plan a dinner at home where your kids will be required to order and speak in their foreign language?

Songs

You can find popular CD’s in many languages. Everything from Top 40 to Children’s music, and don’t forget to search for music coming from other countries. Perhaps there is a French lullaby you can learn and teach your kids?

Extra Workbooks

I’ve found some colorful, fun sticker books and workbooks for our different languages. Sometimes, instead of following our regular curriculum, we will do a “fun” page from one of these books. There’s also word-search books, crossword puzzles, foreign language mad-libs, and more. Again, any of these could be made by you.

Bible Verses

You can search the Bible online in just about any language. Find and memorize a verse or prayer each term. Prima Latina incorporates prayers in their curriculum, and it’s been one of our favorite things to learn. Finding some special Bible verses will not only help your child advance her language, but might come in handy someday on a mission trip!

Study a Country

When my Coco was in elementary school, and we weren’t homeschooling yet, we used to do Country Studies for fun. We’d find books at the library and read about kids in whatever country we were studying. Coco would make flags, crafts, and art inspired by that country’s history. At the end of each unit, we would have a celebration and display her artwork, cook lots of ethnic foods and have some fun activities.

Visit a Country That Speaks the Language

Of course this would be the ultimate activity! If you are unable to plan an international trip, maybe there is a city nearby you can visit. San Francisco has Chinatown, Los Angeles has Olvera Street, New York has Little Italy, Little France, and many others. A quick Google search can find a “Little Country” near you!

What foreign languages are you learning this year?

Angela escribe acerca de la vida como mamá en Homegrown Mom

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Comments

  1. says

    Your ideas are wonderful! I especially love the field trip idea! :)

    We’ve played around with Spanish, French, German, Greek and Latin but haven’t really buckled down and focused on one. My oldest son has a list of languages that he wants to speak- the problem is, he wants to learn them all at the same time. :)

  2. mamala says

    This is a testimony to the little girl who put together lesson plans and report cards for her brothers–many years ago.
    You are the perfect teacher, Duck. Wish I would have had a teacher with your love for learning. You are creating lifetime students.
    Brava!

  3. says

    We’re studying foreign languages for the very first time this year. Spawn will be learning Spanish and French…and all I speak is English and Italian (and a teensy bit of Japanese). It should be an interesting year. =D Thanks for all the great ideas!

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