There are roughly a million and a half things competing for your child’s attention every day. Between schoolwork, hobbies, afterschool clubs, friends, video games, books, movies, TV shows and just about anything else you can image, how are you supposed to compete with that and keep your children or teens interested in learning Arabic?
Leaning a second language has tons of practical benefits for children as they grow and advance through school and then college and even into everyday adult life. When you’re young, though, and all your friends are talking about how they’re dominating the latest video game, it’s hard to stay focused on those potential benefits.
So, what can you do to encourage your kids to focus on learning Arabic? How can you compete when there are so many different things vying for their attention?
Try a couple of these suggestions and see if you can steer their attention toward some long-term benefits.
Use Games and Multi-Media
Games, songs, and videos/movies have proven to be a very effective tool for helping children learn a new language and stay engaged with their lessons.
There are many resources that can be used to entertain and educate at the same time. At Arab Academy, our Arabic for kids courses are specially tailored to use stories and games to help them get involved with their lessons and really embrace the new language.
Make Learning a Game
You can make learning a game. Previously, we’ve discussed how learning a language is like playing the best video games. If you can incorporate some of these similarities into your child’s daily efforts, it can make the entire process more fun.
Kids have a very specific way of learning a language, and you can take advantage of that by making their studies a cycle of challenges and rewards. This will help keep them engaged and even looking forward to the next challenge.
Set Fun Goals
Whenever someone talks about goals, it usually revolves around them being specific and measurable.
This is very important, but when it comes to teaching children, goals also need to be fun.
Children should feel like reaching the goal is a real challenge, and that all the work they put into it will be enjoyable – that it won’t be a chore.
Fun goals could include:
- Learning all the vocabulary about their favorite sport or game
- Learning region-specific words used by characters in their favorite books or movies
- Watching a video every day that teaches new Arabic words and phrases
- Singing along with their favorite song perfectly
- Winning a word game in Arabic
Goals like these are usually a lot more effective than: “memorize 50 new vocabulary words this week.”
Establish a Reward System
Sometimes, when a child learns a new phrase, a new word, or can answer questions in a second language, that’s reward enough.
Other kids, however, may require a little more.
If you want to keep kids interested in their Arabic lessons, it’s important to reward their accomplishments rather than punish their disinterest.
In other words, the more you deny them their “real fun” until they get their Arabic done for the day, the more they’re going to view these language lessons as a burden or a chore.
You don’t have to pay your children to do their lessons, of course. That’s not the kinds of rewards we mean. But look at your children’s other hobbies and activities. What do they enjoy doing? What activities make them happy?
Which of these activities could you spontaneously enhance every time they accomplish something new or take another step toward their language goals? A new video game, some more soccer equipment, a special dinner at their favorite restaurant – these are all valid choices.
You don’t want them to expect special treatment every time they memorize a few more vocabulary words, but you do want them to know that they have made an incredible accomplishment that deserves acknowledgement.
Too Much May Push Them Away
Learning a new language requires a lot of structure and dedication. That means you will have to be a participant in your child’s education and you are going to have to lay down some rules to help them along.
Just remember that as kids grow older, they can develop a rebellious streak, and the more you try to force them to choose learning a new language at this age over playing soccer/video games/etc., the more they’re going to pull away.
Younger children are more reliant on their parents to provide entertainment, company, and guidance. As they get older, they want to establish their personality and personal goals, and some of that may not include all the things you thought they’d enjoy.
Pushing some kids too much as they go through these phases may only push them away from this great opportunity.
Instead, keep focusing on simple and fun ways to keep them interested. Stick to that challenge/reward system and let it evolve as your children continue to develop.
Stick with It
Keeping your kids interested in learning Arabic isn’t always going to be easy, and it can seem like a real challenge when you’re up against all those video games, movies and activities with friends.
If you stick to it though, and find an affordable method to help you along the way, you can make the entire experience a lot more fun and engaging. Take a look at our Arabic course catalog and find out how we can help your kids have so much fun they’ll actually start looking forward to their next lessons.