Teaching children a foreign language with flash cards

Ideally, your child would soak up foreign language from native speakers on the hills of Europe.  But until then, don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. Use some picture flash cards to teach your child yourself now.  It’ll be good enough.  And good enough gets it done.

Get picture cards from the dollar store, or cut them out of a cheap workbook. Reinforce flimsy cards with clear contact paper, or carefully cover them with clear packing tape.  Ideally, the cards wont have any English written on them because you don’t want your child reading English.  You want your child to automatically think of the foreign word for the object in the picture.  Reading the English word for the picture will only interfere.

Always name the card in your target language.  It is unnecessary to say the word in English because your child can clearly see what the word means by looking at the picture.  Try hard to pronounce the words just like a native speaker, but you will still have an accent.  Don’t worry about your imperfect pronunciation.  If you’re serious about getting your child fluent, your child will eventually hear many hours of native speech via media and real life experiences.  Your child is not bound to have the same accent you had the day you taught them those words.

The goal is to let your child hear the words many times.  Your goal is also to get your child to enjoy learning the language.  Keep playing.  Keep talking.  Keep it fun.

Try these activities.  They are so good I wish my school teachers had known about them when I was in school.

Magic eyes
Put 4-6 cards in a line face up. Quickly name them all. Put the first card face down. Name all the cards, including the one that is face down. Put the second card face down and name all the cards. Put the third card face down. Name all the cards. Continue until all the cards are face down. Your child will join in, and say the words when he is ready.

Put several cards face up. Describe one card and let your child pick it up. If you can’t speak much of your foreign language, you can describe the cards in English and when your child picks the card, say what it is in your target language.

Where Is?
Put many cards face up. Ask where something is. Your child can find that card.

Read My Lips
This activity is just like Where Is? but instead of naming the card normally, mouth the word.

Slowly uncover a flash card and act amazed that your child can guess it before it is completely uncovered.

What is missing?
Display about five cards. Make your child look away while you hide one. Your child has to guess what you took away. Put the card back in it’s place and continue playing.



These activities are from the YouTube video below.  A video that uses some of the ideas follows.



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