From several conversations with parents that are raising their children with two or more languages, I realized several are using what I call “guerilla language teaching tactics".
Here is a definition of what it is: Indirect strategies to teach a language to children, involving, but not limited to, laughs, play and songs.
Why “guerilla language teaching”?
- It is unstructured
- It combines language teaching with daily activities
- It often involves 5- to 10-minute action spurts
- It implies that parents want their children to learn a new language, whatever it takes
Here are some of the tactics parents shared. Usually, the amount of time spent on the second language children are learning is limited: the parent teaching the language is at work, and most of day is spent at school or pre-school with the main language.
These parents then use “guerilla language teaching” tactics whenever they are around the children. A few examples:
- Describing the clothes to the children when getting them dressed as babies (“Here I take your left foot and put a red sock on it”, “Have you seen the beautiful blue T-shirt you are wearing?)
- Singing songs in the language taught when giving the bottle
- Describing what is around when going on a walk with the stroller (“Have you seen this big white car driving by?”, “Can you see the little squirrel right there?)
- Doing play-by-plays in play sports together on the lawn (“And I pass you the ball. Kick it!)
- Reading a 10-minute story while having breakfast
- Listening to a 10-minute story in on CD while driving the car
- Using the iPad to have the kids listen to a story while paying the bills
- Making a salad for lunch and going over the names of the vegetables
“Guerilla language teaching” just means that having children learn a language is a daily commitment. It does not have to be hours spent on a specific subject. It means that you commit to do one or two things a day using the language you want to teach.