It’s no secret that learning a second language takes consistent effort, practice and motivation.
And when it comes to motivation, there are two major hurdles:
- Getting motivated
- Staying motivated
In today’s blog, we’re going to dive deep into the challenge of staying motivated.
As the director of a leading French Day camp in the GTA, I have had the pleasure of seeing thousands of children progress through their French language-learning journey – from elementary proficiency through to fluency. And I must admit, every child has moments where they struggle to stay motivated.
Luckily, through the years I’ve discovered various ways to keep the motivation high when learning French starts to feel plain old boring.
Here is a list of my top 6 ways to help your child stay motivated to learn French:
#1 Incorporate French Into Hobbies
When your child associates learning French with other activities that they already enjoy, they will become fluent with much greater ease.
For example, if your child loves music, you can encourage him or her to tune in to the top 40 hit songs in Quebec or France. Because listening to music is something your child naturally enjoys doing, they will be learning French – without it feeling like “learning.”
Language can be seamlessly incorporated into almost any activity; so don’t be afraid to get creative!
#2 Transition Every Day Functions To The Second Language
One of the best ways to strengthen your child’s comprehension of French is to change the language of the technology they use on a daily basis from English to French.
At first, changing the default language of their smartphone, tablet or computer to French might be a bit of a struggle, but they will soon pick up on the commands. Eventually, using technology in French will feel effortless.
#3 Find Something Fun To Strive For
Is there a movie your child won’t stop talking about?
Or how about a book series or comic that they just can’t put down?
Staying motivated when learning a second language takes more than just aiming for “fluency.” It’s important to strive for something exciting that genuinely interests your child. So whether that is to feel comfortable enough to watch a famous French movie and understand the dialogue, or read their favorite book series in French, they must strive for a goal that excites and inspires them!
#4 Break Down Studying Into Bite-Sized Chunks
We’ve all been there.
You look at your pile of papers and books, but you just can’t seem to bring yourself to read through the stack on your desk. Unfortunately, studying a language is no different.
When you see that your child is procrastinating on their French homework, encourage him or her to start with just 10 to 15 minutes of review. Once they finally open up their French books, they will likely be motivated enough to keep going.
#5 Get A Goal Notebook
To stay motivated, it’s important to make small, achievable goals along the way.
We don’t get to be fluent from the get-go. First we have to learn the fundamentals, then we can start creating more complex sentences, and before we know it, we can discuss global issues in our adopted language. It takes baby steps.
Encourage your child to use a fresh notebook dedicated to writing down small achievable goals. For example, they might want to learn the words to a particular French song, or write an email in French to their friend or teacher.
For children who are more technologically apt, downloading the goal tracking app OR+ (for Android users) and Strides (for Apple users) might be the way to go. As a special bonus: Both Strides and OR+ can be set to French!
And of course, the best part about setting small goals is getting small, meaningful rewards.
#6 Take Breaks
Maybe this one sounds counter-intuitive, but it is important for your child to take short breaks from studying French.
During these breaks, be sure to keep the language a part of your child’s life by encouraging him or her to listen to music in French or watch a TV series in French.
This “break” gives your child a chance to absorb the new vocabulary and grammar rules that they have learned. It also allows makes the second language feel more naturally incorporated into their life.
What did you think of these tips?
Share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Remember, like most things, your child’s motivation will ebb and flow. The goal is not to be motivated 100% of the time, but to feel motivated most of the time!