Finding free community resources to support language learning

Finding free community resources to support language learning

Finding free community resources to support language learning

 By Christina Cunningham

 We all know it – raising little ones can be expensive. The good news is that raising those little ones to be multilingual doesn’t have to add to the cost! There are a plethora of free resources and community events to support your family’s language learning if you know where to look. 

Start at the Library

 Your local library is a treasure trove of free language-learning resources. For example, Little Pim is an online resource available through many libraries; it has videos that introduce little ones to vocabulary and conversation basics. As a bonus, Little Pim is an offshoot of Mango, a similar program for adults – which means you can practice together. Of course, you couldn’t go to the library without checking out a few books. Look for foreign language books in the children’s section if you feel confident reading in your family’s second language. If not, ask the children’s librarian if the library has Vox audio-enabled books or Wonderbooks. These stories are read aloud to your child, and your library may have some foreign-language options available as well. Finally, you can use your library system’s associated apps like Libby to download children’s audiobooks in your target language. 

Attend Bilingual Storytimes

 Another excellent opportunity for getting your kids out in the world and practicing their second language is to attend bilingual storytimes. These community events might also operate out of your local library, but bookstores often host them, as well. Storytimes are a great opportunity to expose your children to native speakers and help them grow in their pronunciation and grammar. These events might also include other engaging elements, like singing songs in a second language or creating crafts to learn more about a particular holiday or culture. 

Find Meetups

 Meetup is a social networking platform for people looking to connect over common interests, including languages. While many language-learning groups that gather through Meetup are targeted toward grown-ups, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t attend with your children. Particularly in the beginner groups, there is a lot of opportunity to practice basic vocabulary and greetings or learn some useful phrases. Developing and strengthening your conversational abilities happens with time and practice. So encourage your children to chime in, and don’t be afraid to show up and try yourself. 

Join Bilingual Playgroups

 Many major cities already have bilingual playgroups meeting at local parks or child-friendly venues. Kids get to practice their skills with peers in a low-pressure environment, while you have the opportunity to connect and bounce ideas off of other parents who are on their own language-learning journeys. The shifting environment will naturally introduce new conversation topics to the group, building your kids’ vocabulary along the way.

Bilingual Parenting Groups on Social Media

 There are many general and language-specific bilingual parenting groups on Facebook where you can connect with other parents whose children are learning second languages. In these groups, you can share resources, tips and events all related to language learning. Do a quick search on Facebook to find the right group(s) to join.

A quick search on Facebook is often all it takes to find out which of these resources are available near you. If something doesn’t exist in your area, who’s to say you couldn’t start your own? Gather a few like-minded parents, reserve a room at the library or meet up at a local park, and start practicing.