We do a little bit of foreign language almost every day. There are so many amazing resources available now, it only takes a little bit of planning to get your family going. Our family is learning Russian, and even a less-common language like Russian is easy to incorporate into your day once you know where to start.
Have Minimal Expectations
If you can start your foreign language journey with minimal expectations, you will be a lot happier. Especially if you are teaching young children. Start with basic things like colors, numbers, and names of your children’s favorite foods. You can play a lot of little games with colors and numbers (UNO is a good one. My kids also like to slap things with flyswatters, so we have picture cards of colors and things that they can slap.) YouTube is a great place to find examples of pronunciation.
Use Toddler Books
We have a collection of books for ages 1-3 that are in Russian. These books are so helpful. If you don’t have experience with your chosen foreign language already, you can find videos of people reading toddler books in your language on YouTube. You can also order books from many foreign countries and have them shipped to you. That’s how we get our Russian books. The shipping isn’t cheap, but the books are! If you’re learning a more normal language, you can get books on Amazon:
We start with songs and poems. I have a collection of foreign language songs on my site Sing Solfa. Turn them on the background. See which ones your children like the best and then learn it more formally. Very simple poems are also fun. You can find songs and poems in an amazing number of languages at mamalisa.com. My kids really like learning songs they already know in English. The “Teach Me” series by Judy Mahoney is available is many languages and has songs that your children already know, only now they are in your target foreign language. I will warn you, they are a little cheesy, but I think they are still worthwhile. You can find hard copies with a CD on Amazon or you can get the audio on Audible with a PDF of the accompanying workbook. I prefer the Audible option.
If you are prepared to invest more time (and $$$) into a language learning program, I highly recommend Talkbox.mom. A mom hired some people to follow her around all day and write down everything she said as she parented her children. Then they took all these phrases and translated them into a bunch of languages. It’s really genius. They have an app with audio for all the phrases. You can also sign up for a monthly subscription box. You can read more about them at their website. I have been waiting over 2 years for the Russian materials to come out. I really like this company, but someone needs to teach them to under-promise and over-deliver, instead of the other way around. Sigh. So while I wait impatiently for my first shipment, you can get started with your target language. Use this coupon code and get $15 off your first box + book: REFWIVAXTG6NO