Teaching a second language at childcare

23 October 2015
 Categories: , Blog

Learning a second language as a small child is much easier than trying to pick up as second language as an adult. Having a second language has proven benefits in increased mental ability and control. With the multicultural influences in Australia, offering a childcare program with second language learning can be an attractive way to draw in new people and families. Here are some tips to introduce a second language program.

Identify a language

Not only do you want to introduce a language where you can find a dedicated language teacher, but preferably you should also find some confident speakers of the language to be in general child carer roles in the centre to ensure second language learning is integrated throughout the day. In order to identify a language that is useful to the parents, as well as having local native speakers who work childcare, it's useful to examine the demographics of your area and specifically young families in your area. Once you have identified one or more potential languages, you can send some information out to parents so they can forward some information on which languages they would like to see taught into your centre.

Purchase or create some resources

In addition to the formal lessons, it's great to include some language examples that can be used each day. This could include songs in your featured language, or story books which are either direct translations or native stories. You might find if you are teaching certain languages, including native Australian Aboriginal languages, that you need to create your own learning materials, as resources might not be available. It can be a great opportunity in this case to record songs and story telling so that you can create an environment where the secondary language is integrated day-to-day. This integration can help with integrating vocabulary as well as sentence structure and grammar forms.

Use informal teaching

In a childcare environment, it can be tempting to always produce items to take home to parents, but it can be equally as useful to use informal techniques such as fun games and informal play activities to teach language, which you can record through photos and videos. You can either modify current games such as "Simon Says" to use the second language for simple commands such as "touch your nose" or you can choose to teach the children native games that they may not be as familiar with. Be sure to get the child carers very familiar with the rules of any new games as they will be surely called to adjudicate!

For more information, contact other child care centers, such as One World Children’s Centre, and inquire about any tactics they suggest or have found useful.