There are nearly a million and a half things vying for your child’s attention every day. Between schoolwork, hobbies, after-school clubs, friends, video games, books, movies, TV shows and whatever else you can film, how are you supposed to compete with that and keep your kids or teens interested in learning Arabic?
Learning a second language has many practical benefits for children as they grow and progress through school, college and even in the daily lives of adults. When you’re young, and all your friends are talking about how they’re dominating the latest video game, it’s hard to stay focused on those potential benefits.
So, what can you do to encourage your children to focus on learning Arabic? How can you compete when there are so many different things vying for their attention?
Try a couple of these suggestions and see if you can steer them toward some long-term benefits.
Use Games and Multi-Media
Games, songs and videos/movies prove to be a very effective tool for helping children learn a new language and stay engaged with their lessons.
There are many resources that can be used to entertain and educate at the same time. At the Arab Academy, Arabic courses for kids are specifically designed using stories and games to help them engage in their lessons and truly embrace the new language.
Make Learning a Game
You can make learning a game. We have previously discussed how learning a language is like playing the best video games. If you can incorporate some of these similarities into your child’s daily efforts, it can make the whole process more fun.
Children have a very specific way of learning language, and you can take advantage of this by making their study an episode of challenges and rewards. This will help keep them engaged and even looking forward to the next challenge.
Set Fun Goals
When someone talks about goals, it is usually about them being specific and measurable. This is very important, but when it comes to teaching children, the goals should also be fun.
Children should feel that reaching the goal is a real challenge, and that all the work they do will be fun – not a chore.
Fun goals could include:
- Learn all the vocabulary about their favorite sport or game.
- Learn the region-specific words used by characters in their favorite books or movies.
- Watch a video every day that teaches you new Arabic words and phrases.
- Sing along to their favorite song perfectly.
- Winning the word game in Arabic.
Goals like this are usually more effective than: “Memorize 50 new vocabulary words this week.”
Establish a Reward System
Sometimes, when a child learns a new phrase, a new word, or can answer questions in a second language, that’s reward enough.
However, other children may need more.
If you want to keep children interested in their Arabic lessons, it is important to reward their achievements rather than punish their lack of interest.
In other words, the more you deprive them of the “real pleasure” until they finish their Arabic for the day, the more they view these language lessons as a burden or a chore.
You don’t have to pay your kids to do their lessons, of course. These are not the kinds of rewards we mean. But look at your children’s other hobbies and activities. What do they enjoy? What activities make them happy?
Which of these activities would you improve automatically every time they accomplish something new or take another step towards their language goals? A new video game, some extra soccer gear, a special dinner at their favorite restaurant – these are all valid choices.
You don’t want them to expect a special treat every time they memorize a few vocabulary words, but you do want them to know that they’ve accomplished a great achievement that deserves recognition.
Too Much May Push Them Away
Learning a new language takes a lot of organization and dedication. This means that you will have to be involved in your child’s education and you will have to set some rules to help him.
Just remember that as children get older they can develop a rebellious streak, and the more you try to force them to choose learning a new language at this age over playing soccer/video games/etc, the more they will be pulled away.
Younger children rely more on their parents to provide entertainment, companionship, and guidance. As they get older, they want to establish their personality and personal goals, and some of that may not include all the things you thought they would enjoy.
Pushing some kids too much while they’re going through these stages can keep them away from this great opportunity.
Instead, stay focused on simple and fun ways to keep them interested. Stick to the challenge/reward system and let it evolve as your children continue to grow.
Stick with It
Maintaining your children’s interest in learning Arabic will not always be easy, and it can seem like a real challenge when you’re faced with all the video games, movies, and activities with friends.
If you stick with it though, and find an affordable way to help you along the way, you can make the whole experience a lot more fun and engaging. Take a look at our catalog of Arabic courses and find out how we can help your children have so much fun that they will actually start looking forward to their next lessons.