Family Language Alive - Children Learning Chinese

Situation #3.5: I am not sure whether my child can benefit from being a part of a Chinese community when learning the language…

May 30, 2016

What Makes a Community or Play Group An Effective Language Learning Environment?

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It is not always easy to find a community that works for your child. As we know, communal support can help foster the meaning in learning the language, but what are the factors that make it effective?

Board game as the focus.

 

Allow Creativity

Language is not always learned through words. It is expressed via all senses, e.g. smells, touch, movement, gestures and facial expression, thinking, to name a few. Through games and meaningful activities, one can engage to accomplish the goal at hand, without realizing the use of language. Certainly, the most organic way to go!

 

Allow Learning For Everyone

It is easy to turn into a “teacher’s mode”, especially when the focus of the group is too heavily in learning a language. Aiming for another goal, such as a

The Actual Game on the Floor for Everyone to Participate!

The Actual Game on the Floor for Everyone to Participate!

craft activity, a social play time, or a bible study, can take this pressure off. When all, including the adults, concentrate in learning how to fold an origami, or reflecting upon a life question, then language stops being a “means to an end.” After all, what is the purpose of knowing a language but for communication and expression?

 

Allow Mistakes

One of the biggest fear factors in learning a language (or anything) is to be laughed at. Everyone needs at least one setting where he is secured to use what he has learned. The adults, especially, should be there to encourage, rather than judge, what a child has said, however improperly put. It is fine to correct, but should be in a positive, rather than in a demeaning manner. One method would be to repeat what the child has said, but with the proper vocabulary or grammar and ask for confirmation. “Is that what you mean?” Model this behavior for everyone present.

Believe me, this WAS the board game we played. Messiness = Engagement!

Believe me, this WAS the board game we played. Messiness can mean Engagement!

Allow All Ages

Society makes it a norm to place similar age groups to learn a subject together. It is not always about the age, but rather, the level of expertise. But research has shown that one learns best when the next advanced element is present, naturally moving him to the next stage*. When more language-competent adults or children are present, your child can learn much more naturally and quickly than if he were placed in a classroom at the same-level.

 

Allow Enjoyment!

Enjoy being together! That is really the main ingredient to helping your child succeed to the next level of expertise in the language! Fostering your love for the language is an attitude you cannot forego.

 

* scaffolding theory and constructivism by J. Brunet

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