Planning for summer language learning

Planning for summer language learning

Planning for summer language learning

By Christina Cunningham

The weather’s heating up, the kids are home from school, and you’re thinking about how to make these weeks as fun-filled as possible. Since you’re here on our website, it’s likely you’re also interested in incorporating some bilingual activities into summer fun! We have a few tips and tricks to share about how to seamlessly include opportunities to grow your child’s language skills in your day-to-day activities. Get inspired! 

Purposeful playtime

Summer is the best time to really lean into play. You can never go wrong with making plenty of space for open-ended play, where conversation flows naturally. Building your child’s thematic, bilingual vocabulary can be as simple as naming ingredients in your pretend play kitchen or talking about shapes while building with blocks. Filling your sensory table with interesting objects can also get your children practicing animal names, texture words and more. If your little ones are on the active side, scavenger hunts are a great opportunity to build descriptive vocabulary on the move! 

Purposeful, directed play can also have its place in bilingual learning. If you’re thinking of setting up a summer learning corner for your preschoolers or school-aged children, you might incorporate bilingual labels for supplies or posters in your second language. A learning corner is a great place to introduce vocabulary related to time, the weather and the second language’s alphabet/characters.

There are also tons of bilingual resources available on websites like Teachers Pay Teachers. They cover all sorts of topics and skills, so whether you’re creating a morning menu in French or gathering learning journal ideas for practicing Spanish, there’s something out there to meet your needs. We have our own page with printables here, but we also recommend other accounts like Little Language Learners (Chinese), Ms. Joanne (French) and Mrs. G Dual Language (Spanish)!

Mealtimes

Mealtime is a great time  to build bilingual conversational skills. This can be something as simple as naming some of the items on your child’s plate or placemat. You can also introduce vocabulary for food groups, colors, temperatures, etc. as you cook and eat together.

Taking your family out to an authentic local restaurant is a chance to explore language and culture simultaneously. Your kids get to try some new foods and learn more about the culinary traditions of another country or region. They might even build conversational skills like ordering food in their second language

Fun reading

Your local library’s summer reading program provides a perfect opportunity to share bilingual books with your little ones. First-word books are a great place to start with smaller readers. You can also try finding the English and Spanish versions of popular stories, like the Pete the Cat series, and read them back-to-back to promote comprehension. If you’re not bilingual, you can check out audiobooks or audio-enhanced books in your child’s second language so they can hear it read by a native speaker.

Many libraries also have more frequent programs during the summer for children who are out of school. It’s worth checking to see if they offer any bilingual music programs or storytimes that work for your family’s schedule. If they don’t have in-person programming available, make it a priority to start using some of your library’s virtual resources regularly  to support your child’s language growth. Our local library makes Little Pim and Muzzy videos available to patrons.

Language on-the-go

Car trips can be another practical place to weave bilingual learning into your summer plans. Try turning traditional games like I spy into a language-learning exercise to practice color and shape words. Or, bring along magnet sets and use the pieces as characters in a story you tell together. If you’re headed to a particular destination, like the beach, you can also front-load some useful vocabulary by talking about what you might do and see there. 

Car rides are also the perfect time to stream a bilingual podcast or one of our Spotify playlists. Many incredible podcasters out there have devoted themselves to sharing familiar stories and songs in different languages. The Fable Cottage is one of our favorites, with childhood favorites like Chicken Little, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel retold in five languages. 

Travel

If you plan to jetset this summer, the pie-in-the-sky dream is to visit a place where your child can be fully immersed in their second language. But, even if your visit isn’t to a foreign country, there are opportunities within our own cities to explore language and culture. Many larger cities have international districts where your children can learn more about the food, arts and traditions of other countries. Local events pages can point you in the direction of festivals and other cultural celebrations and provide kids with an opportunity to hear the sounds of their second language from native speakers. 

Building your child’s second language skills this summer doesn’t have to be complicated. The best practice comes from building vocabulary and conversational skills during your day-to-day experiences. Keep checking our social media for more tips and play inspirations throughout the summer. We’re wishing you all the best as you pursue your language learning goals this season.