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3 Apps To Learn A New Language Together As A Family

From junior high school through college I always took Spanish classes. It came very easy — subjugating verbs, writing out different tenses, learning, and falling in love with the culture and history opened up a world I didn’t know existed. Memorizing vocabulary and phrases fed my journaling obsession and my love affair with words, their definitions and how each subculture perceived them. Once I became a mom I put my toddler in a complete Spanish-immersion preschool because toddlers absorb language so easily.

It was always a no-brainer to enroll and take Spanish once I got to college. I’ll always remember when my conversational Spanish professor encouraged me to minor in Spanish. I was so close to it, sheerly from always taking it every semester.

The crowning glory of learning in the classroom was studying abroad in Mexico for five weeks before graduating college. This immersive experience gave my brain the best workout it ever had. I had the confidence to travel and tag along on family and community events with natives who only spoke Spanish and it forced me to use what I knew and to ask questions when I did not know. It also showed me how much I retained. My only regret is that I did not study abroad more and travel more. But it’s never too late to travel. Blinking red light: Get your kids involved in learning a second language ASAP! There’s proven benefits and we’re here to share the reasons why!

Positively Impacts Attitudes and Beliefs About Other Cultures

If there was ever a time that we needed to learn, understand, appreciate and jump into the history of another culture, from their unique purview, the time is not now, but right now. In the 60s a studywas conducted by Riestra and Johnson with over 60, 5th-graders. One group learned Spanish the other did not. The group that learned Spanish was significantly more positive about persons from other countries who spoke different languages. When you are learning you are open. You are taking in data and synthesizing it without peer pressure or what you were taught from the media or your family. Because knowledge is a constant challenge you simply absorb and become more curious about it and the result can be less prejudice and more flexibility, and tolerance.

Reading is Fundamental

In your native language you typically do not focus on the nuts and bolts of grammar. Yes, you take, for example, English classes but outside of that, you’re not really careful of how you speak it because it’s what you’ve always known, and you’re surrounded by its familiarity. In the 70s 1100, 6th-graders in a D.C. public school were tested with pre-tests, and post-tests in vocabulary, comprehension, and overall reading skills. Those who were instructed in Latin scored much higher in reading achievement scores than those who did not receive that class.

A Second Language Boosts Academic Achievement

Auburn University, in their 25 reasons to study a foreign language points out that another language bolsters skills needed for problem solving, and understanding abstract concepts. It innately enhances listening skills, and memory. (Enroll your romantic partner quickly! Just kidding.) Studies have also shown that dual language kids have more grey matter in their brain because of the demand they place on their neurotransmitters. Grey matter is the part of the brain involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control.

These skills and functions are needed throughout the academic process. Their ease of use with the relationship between words and sentence structure becomes more effortless and fluid. They can become strong writers when essay responses are required, they understand the etymology of words with a deeper anchor of understanding.

What a Difference One Year Makes

Just one year of studying a foreign language in highschool could mean that your child’s SAT verbal scores could be higher than their peers of equal academic ability. Their study of another language easily transfers to their native language analysis. When they’re constantly reading, reciting, and writing verb tenses in one language, they tend to become that detailed in their language of origin. If your student studies more than one year it could mean better collegiate performance, which means they can process concepts faster, and organize thoughts more easily.

Learning as a Family

It’s a great idea if the family decides to learn along with their student. It increases bonding time, and provides built-in language speakers to practice with. Using what you know is vital to locking it into your mind.

One of the scariest things is to test out your new skills with native speakers who are strangers. Although most native speakers in my experience are pleasantly surprised when I speak their language, at first my fear of it not being welcomed, or that I was not speaking correctly (translation: perfectly) impeded my recall.

One way you can take small steps in your journey is to sharpen your second language with your kids. Use games, watch movies with subtitles, and speak with members of your family who are fluent. I have found talking with children, who naturally speak slower because their brains are still developing put me at a comfortable cadence. Do not hesitate to ask whomever you’re speaking with to slow down.

Think about choosing a language that is popular, where you increase the number of those who speak it by its popularity. Once you become more comfortable striking up conversations or volunteering where those native speakers are you will be well on your way.

Three Top Apps to Get Started

DuoLingo

A Sugaberry Favorite. Easily see your progress. 100 million users are experiencing gaming and learning combined to get new languages under their collective belt. This app is created by native speakers so you get the authenticity of that region, correct pronunciation and accentuation. It’s not made just for those whose native tongue is English. There are 81 courses and the community is growing. It makes every best language app list and is truly part of the global community. I hopped on while writing this and completed my level gauge in 15 minutes. Easily select how much time you want to invest in yourself. It’s very visual, and rewards finishers stars, explaining errors in an animated setting. The language lover and the little girl in me are hooked.

Memrise

In-house linguists craft this language meets tech app. In traditional schools, kids all over the world have been mislabeled with all sorts of conditions and prescribed all types of drugs because they were bored and the lessons weren’t challenging. Well your learner will not have that problem here. Memrise feels that the best learning happens when you are enjoying yourself so much that your attention is fully engaged. This is the test all of their content must pass before making it to the app for millions to learn with. Their thought is: make it fun, or go home. Couldn’t agree more.

Mindsnacks

is not only fun to say (plus it projects the coziness of snacking), but it puts the fun in learning vocabulary, and conversation, so you won’t become a flashcard-flipping zombie. Hilarious. You are gaming and learning from their think-tank of linguists. There are lessons within each game and if you don’t see the subject you’re looking for, you get to cast your ballot to suggest one. (Great practice for November we might add.) This one’s for the kids and the kids at heart. I see your hands! Download and learn on!

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