Children pick up their native language as they go along, by watching those around them interact, listening to them talk, working out meaning, starting to mimic sounds, and finally learning to speak. This process is a natural one that makes the best of a child’s creative energy and their capacity to learn. It is also a process that can be harnessed to help a child learn a second language, such as German.
One of the complaints that adult learners make about German is the unfamiliar construction of words and sentences and the harshness of the sounds. These are perceptions which can make learning a language much harder for adults but can easily be bypassed when teaching children, allowing them to learn unhindered.
Before you pack the family’s bags and set off to learn German in Berlin, here are some creative techniques to practise at home to help make it easier for children to learn German. They can also be used by adult learners who are willing to indulge their inner child, and have some fun while they learn.
Vocabulary: learn German words
Unlike English words, German nouns have a gender (either masculine, feminine or neuter), which is not necessarily related to the gender of the thing to which it refers. The example often given is that of the word for girl. The girl may be female, but the word for girl is neuter.
While adults may agonise over the anomalies, they are likely to pass most children by, therefore it is just possible to learn the words for objects without worrying about it. Pointing to objects and naming them in German, simple colouring books and using flash cards are all creative visual ways to learn basic German words without getting bogged down in rules about gender, declensions, and shifts of meaning from singular to plural – all of which can come later.
Grammar: learn German sentences
The rhythm of a language is an important part of fluency. So creative activities like reciting nursery rhymes or singing songs together can help a child get to grips with simple verb and sentence construction while also laying the foundations of greater natural confidence and fluency. Expert language tutors such as those at http://www.esl-schools.org/ recommend this approach for developing a sense of any language.
Subjects: learn about German in context
Children are naturally curious, and if you can tap into that curiosity and their interest in particular subjects then they will learn much more easily. For example, if your child loves trains, then buy them a book in German about trains or railways. It will help motivate them to learn the language, while enriching their general knowledge.
If you use these creative methods in teaching your child, it will make their language learning experience interactive and enjoyable, therefore increasing their motivation to learn.