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A Bilingual New Year: Setting Language Goals for Your Little Polyglots


Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo!


I love the hope and inspiration that the new year brings. It’s a moment to reflect on past achievements and think about new goals for the new year.


As a trilingual family, I like to think about language goals we want to achieve and steps that we can take throughout the days, weeks and months to reach them.


So let‘s explore effective strategies for setting family language goals and share some resources and fun activities to make language learning an enjoyable part of your daily routine. At the end of the article, I’ll share two of the language goals we have set for 2024.




Setting S.M.A.R.T. Language Goals


Start the year by setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.) language goals for your family. These goals should align with your long-term vision for bilingualism and be tailored to the age and language proficiency of your children. For example, a specific goal could be to increase daily exposure to the minority language by incorporating it into bedtime routines or designating a specific time for language activities.


For example for our family, these are our language goals for the first half of 2024:


  1. For our eldest (6years old): By the summer, to read at grade 1 Spanish level and hold a simple conversation. We will work towards this goal by encouraging her to read in Spanish to her sister every night and having more conversations with her abuelo on FaceTime every week.

  2. For our youngest (4 years old): By the summer, to answer questions in Spanish when asked. Taking into account she is learning French at school at the moment, we will continue to support French learning and incorporate Spanish games and reading every week.

  3. For me: To pass my French language tests by the summer. I will be reading in French everyday and doing grammar and vocabulary practice tests 3x a week.


This should give you an idea of how you can tailor your family language goals for the year.


Now let’s talk about how to get the right resources to support your S.M.A.R.T. Language goals.


Here are some resource ideas.


  1. Books and Stories: having books in the minority language, that have some of your child’s interest (say trucks for example), is a great resource. Make them easily available to them so they can reach them and read them any time.

  2. Educational Apps: Take advantage of language-learning apps designed for young children. Apps like Duolingo Kids, Gus on the Go, and Little Pim provide interactive and engaging activities to reinforce language skills. Duolingo has a great family language plan that you can get to use for the whole family and make language input a fun family activity.

3 Games: Incorporate games into your daily routine but play them in the minority language. These can be games like "Simon says" or scavenger hunts with bilingual clues can make language learning enjoyable for your little ones. It can also be board games like Loteria or UNO. Here is a list with our favourite 5 games.


It’s important to keep in mind that language learning should be kept fun!


In addition to this, you can incorporate the following activities weekly. I’m sure you will find, like our family has, that these activities are fun and kids start to look forward to them with excitement.


  1. Cultural Nights: Dedicate one night a week to exploring the culture associated with the minority language. Prepare traditional dishes, listen to music, and engage in activities that celebrate the richness of the language's cultural heritage.

  2. Language Playdates: Organize playdates with other bilingual families. This not only provides an opportunity for your child to practice the minority language but also fosters a sense of community and support among parents sharing similar goals.

  3. Family Movie Nights: Choose movies or cartoons in the minority language and make it a family tradition to watch them together. This not only exposes your child to the language in a different context but also provides quality bonding time.

  4. Travel or Virtual Tours: If possible, plan a trip to a country where the minority language is spoken. Alternatively, embark on virtual tours using online resources, exploring museums, landmarks, and cultural sites associated with the language. Youtube is a great resource for this, or you can ask a family member living in your home country to send you pictures of landmarks, or their neighbourhood to show your kids.


Setting language goals for bilingual families with small children can be a rewarding endeavor, fostering a rich linguistic environment at home. By incorporating resources and fun activities into your daily routine, you can create a supportive atmosphere that encourages your little ones to embrace and enjoy the journey of becoming multilingual. As you embark on this adventure in the New Year, remember that consistency, creativity, and patience are key elements in nurturing your child's language development. Here's to a year filled with language discovery and family bonding!


 

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