Frequently Asked Questions and Helpful Links
National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL)
Being Bilingual May Boost Your Brain Power – NPR
Frequently Asked Questions:
You will find here frequently asked questions by parents of second language learners.
Q: I studied a foreign language several years ago and I do not remember anything and did not like it then so much – how can I help my child now?
A: The most important thing is to leave behind your concerns and worries from previous bad experiences in language learning. As your child embarks on his/her language learning experience, it is a great opportunity to start over and begin to learn with your child! For example, letting your child teach you something. Asking him/her for some words/expressions is a great way to manifest your involvement and spark a new motivation for both you and your child.
Q: How can I find out what my child is studying in his/her world language class?
A: Your child’s school may make available their curriculum for each subject directly on line. If not, get in touch with the language teacher or the building principal to request a copy of the curriculum. A curriculum (also called a syllabus or program of study) will give you an outline of how the school year is divided into different topics and units developed in class.
Q: I would like my child to begin the study of a language earlier but my district only offers languages beginning in middle school. What can I do?
A: First and foremost, work diligently to help develop and implement a FLES program (Foreign Language in the Elementary School). Consider other activities that will help nurture the development of such a program. Ask your district about possibilities to run an after school club or integrate world language and cultural activities in an existing elementary program. If you know other parents who feel the same way you do, perhaps you can gather a group and offer this suggestion to the school district.
Q: When will my child become proficient in the language he/she is studying?
A: Learning to speak and understand another language is NOT an overnight process and it will take some time, patience and work.
Just to give you an idea, after two years of a language study a student should be able to know the basics for conversation in a variety of situations, such as ordering food at a restaurant, asking for directions, purchasing items at a store, etc. Please visit the NYS Office of Bilingual Education and World Language Studies for complete details on NYS and national language learning standards.
Q: If my school is not planning a trip abroad, should I think about sending my child to the country to improve his/her language skills? How do I do that?
A: There is nothing better than being immersed in the culture of the country where the target language is spoken – it is a unique and probably one of the best ways to learn a language. Sending your child to a summer language camp (abroad or domestic), or participating in a summer homestay/exchange program are both beneficial ways to improve language skills. There are however other possibilities to “travel” and “experience” the language and culture of the foreign language without having to leave the U.S. Inquire about events in your communities, international festivals, restaurants, foreign books, movies, international music, museum exhibits, language clubs, hosting a foreign student over the summer, etc.