5 Tips for When Kids Get Frustrated Learning Another Language
By Katherine Maxine Rapp
Learning another language is fun and exciting, but it can also be difficult and frustrating at times — especially for children. Setting your child up for language success starts young and with key strategies.
As an ESL teacher and mom, I've found a few strategies work particularly well. Read on for my five best tips to keep your child's frustration low and their interest at its peak when they're learning at home!
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1. Keep it Fun
Learning another language can be challenging at times, but children’s brains are still malleable enough to pick up the nuances and syntax easily. If your child becomes discouraged, frustrated, or bored, they'll be hesitant to continue. This can make every language lesson feel like pulling teeth, and nobody wants that.
To avoid the scenario above, keep learning fun! Use engaging games and props so kids see the learning experience as play, and laugh often. Research suggests that if you enjoy what you are learning, it becomes easier to retain information — and to stay motivated moving forward. See our favorite crafts and activities for language learning.
2. Be Empathetic
In every language learning journey, no matter how old you are, there comes a point when things get a little more challenging than you expected. It's during these times when kids are tempted to give into frustration and quit.
When your child has a difficult day with language learning, be empathetic and understanding to what they're feeling. Getting frustrated yourself will be counterproductive, because children are sensitive to your emotions — and your positivity has a big impact! There's nothing wrong with taking a break and picking up language learning with your child tomorrow if they need a little time.
3. Encouragement is Your Secret Weapon
Being encouraging goes a long way to ease frustration in children. As mentioned above, sometimes it's okay to simply have a shorter lesson, listen to a dual language story, or watch a children’s show in the target language for a day and leave it at that. When those days come, give words and hugs of encouragement, and move on to something else.
Tell your child you understand how challenging learning can be sometimes, but that they are doing a great job!
4. Learn With Them
Children love to do anything that gives them one-on-one time with their parent, and learning a language is no different.
I always encourage parents to learn alongside their child. You will excel together, and struggle together, but mostly you will have quality time together while expanding your knowledge and your world. It's also helpful to ask your children to translate words or sentences for you — after all, kids love showing off that they know something their parents don't.
5. Prioritize Storytelling
An engaging story with bright characters will keep your child interested in learning a new language.
Malty the Blue Tiger's adventurous bilingual stories are designed to keep kids on the edge of their seats, and seamlessly integrate new vocabulary words into the story. The read-along audiobooks are a great option if you're not a native speaker of the target language. This will help with pronunciation as your child becomes more confident in what they are learning.
Shop our top language-learning resources below to keep learning fun at home!