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The Power of Extracurricular Activities in the Target Language

With the start of the school year, you might be looking at extracurricular activities you can sign up for your child. If it’s available where you live, don't overlook the impact of extracurricular activities in your target language. For our eldest daughter, sending her to Spanish class on Saturdays was a game changer in improving her language proficiency.

Here are the reasons why, and why you might want to consider singing your child up for extracurricular activities inyour target language.

*You can find ideas on what to do if activities are not available in your area at the end of this article.*

Real-Life Context

Imagine learning to swim without ever getting into a pool or learning to cook without entering a kitchen. Language learning works in a similar way – immersing children in real-life contexts helps them grasp the language more naturally. Extracurricular activities like sports, arts, or music classes provide a unique environment for your child to interact with peers and instructors who communicate primarily in the target language. This practical application enhances their vocabulary, comprehension, and conversational skills beyond what textbooks can achieve.

Motivation and Engagement

Children are naturally curious and eager to explore new interests. By enrolling them in extracurricular activities conducted in the target language, you tap into their intrinsic motivation. They are more likely to stay engaged and enthusiastic about learning when they are genuinely interested in the activity. Whether it's learning a martial art or participating in a dance class, the excitement of the activity combined with the language component creates

a dynamic learning experience that holds their attention.

Cultural Connection

Language and culture are closely intertwined. Learning a language goes beyond words; it involves understanding cultural nuances, traditions, and ways of thinking. Extracurricular activities provide a window into the cultural world associated with the language. By participating in these activities, your child gains insights into customs, celebrations, and practices of the target language's culture. For our family, extracurricular activities in Spanish has also allowed for our family to connect with other Mexican families in our community.

Confidence Building

Language acquisition can sometimes be challenging, but success stories are great confidence boosters. Engaging in extracurricular activities conducted in the target language allows your child to witness their progress firsthand. As they communicate,

interact, and achieve goals within the activity, they build self-assurance in using the language. This newfound confidence will spill over into other language-learning contexts, making them more comfortable expressing themselves.

Diverse Language Exposure

If you are the sole language input for your child, extracurricular activities are a great way to expose your child to various accents, dialects, and communication styles that are essential for well-rounded language skills. Extracurricular activities often bring together children from diverse linguistic backgrounds, exposing your child to a range of linguistic variations. This exposure sharpens their listening skills and helps them adapt to different ways of speaking, contributing to their overall language proficiency.

Extracurricular activities are a great tool for language exposure

Incorporating extracurricular activities in the target language into your child's routine is a strategic move in their bilingual journey. These activities offer a combination of real-life context, motivation, cultural enrichment, confidence building, and diverse language exposure. As you consider enrolling your child in sports, arts, music, or other activities, prioritize those that provide a language-rich environment. By doing so, you're not only nurturing their passion but also providing them with a powerful tool for successful language learning and future personal growth.

What to do if there are no extracurricular activities in your target language?

If there aren’t any extracurricular activities near you, check in local facebook groups to see if perhaps there are parents raising their kids in the same target language as you. You can set up playdates in local parks or organize an outing together. It will also give you an opportunity to meet new families in your area going through the same language journey. Another option is to sign up online to courses to help support your child in the language learning process.

Happy Back to School!


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