- Learn by doing. Play grocery store, make a snack, or take a walk. While you are interacting with the children during these activities, speak a second or third language (Dryden & Rose, 1995)
- Reinforce with pictures and sounds. Say the sounds of the language that accompany a picture in a playful way. For example, “A is for apple” (Dryden & Rose, 1995; Dryden & Vos, 1997).
- Learning should be fun. The more fun it is to learn a language, the more a child will want to stay with it. Learning while playing is the best way to learn because it creates emotional attachments, and emotion is the door to learning (Jensen, 1994; Dryden & Vos, 1997; Dryden & Rose, 1995).
- Learn in a relaxed but challenging state. Never stress a child. Current research shows that 80 percent of learning problems are stress related (Stokes & Whiteside, 1984).
- Learn with music and rhythm. Music is one way to use the whole brain. Do you still remember the songs you learned in early childhood? Most people do because lyrics combined with music are easier to learn (Lozanov, 1978; Campbell, 1997; Brewer & Campbell, 1998).
- Learn with lots of movement—use the body and the mind together. The brain and the body are one. However, the traditional education system encourages students to sit all day long. Now we know that we learn more when we move as we learn. Encourage children to dance and move to the rhythm when learning a second or third language (Gardner, 1983; Doman, 1984; Dryden & Vos, 1997).
- Learn by talking to each other. Having students practice a language by talking to each other over a meal, for example, is a great way to learn (Gardner, 1983; Dryden & Vos, 1997).
- Learn by reflecting. It is important to let children take time to “simmer.” There is a dormant stage to language learning. First children absorb the language. Later they begin to speak (Krashen, 1992).
- Link numbers and words in a playful way (Dryden & Rose, 1995).”The more you link, the more you learn” (Vos, 1997). Anything can be linked when learning a second language, including numbers and new vocabulary words (Dryden & Vos, 1997). For example, reciting the numbers from one to ten in Spanish in rhythm is a fun way to begin language learning – “Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez.”
How to Count in Japanese—and Learn by Doing
English Japanese Sound Action
one ichi itchy Scratch your
two ni knee knee.
three san sun Point to the sky.
four shi she Point to a girl.
five go go Walk
- Learn by touching (Dryden & Rose, 1995).Do little finger rhymes in a second language. While you sing or say “Itsy, bitsy spider” have the fingers of each hand touch another finger, as if the spider is climbing.
- Learn by tasting (Dryden & Rose, 1995).Have youngsters celebrate language learning by eating foods and saying the food name in the new language.
- Learn by smelling (Dryden & Rose, 1995).Play smelling games. Hide objects in a sack, and have the children guess what is inside. Encourage them to say the new word in the language they are learning.
- Use the whole world as your classroom (Dryden & Vos, 1997).Turn every outing into a learning experience. You can learn a new language while counting oranges; comparing leaves; classifying different birds, food, or anything that interests the children.
In conclusion from former Harvard Professor Burton L. White (1994): “Every one of the four educational foundations-the development of language, curiosity, intelligence, and socialness—is a risk during the period from eight months to two years.” From accelerated learning trainer Tony Stockwell: “To learn anything fast and effectively, you have to see it, hear it, and feel it” (Dryden & Vos, 1997). And from Jean Houston (1997), author of Educating the Possible Human: “Children can learn almost anything if they are dancing, tasting, touching, seeing, and feeling information” (Dryden & Vos, 1997).
Teacher of English