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How to Make the Most of Screen Time for Young Language Learners Posted by on Aug 24, 2016 in Language Learning

Guest Post by Llacey Simmons

screen time

Recent research indicates that technology usage and screen time is on the rise. With children and tweens (ages 8 to 13) spending an astounding nine hours a day using media, making this time more educational is essential.[1]  Leveraging technology engages and excites young learners, who are digital nomads by nature. Even better, there is a widespread belief that infusing technology-based instruction in the classroom can significantly increase the quality of teaching and the students’ overall learning experience.[2]

For those raising their children to speak another language, this is great news. With many free language resources available on the Internet, parents and educators alike can easily transform traditional language books into vibrant learning tools and presentations. A quick Google or YouTube search can provide a wide variety of digital language options that can be used at home or in the classroom.

Whether you’re a monolingual parent, like myself, or a bilingual parent raising a bilingual child, using media to reinforce language learning is a practical and cost-effective strategy. Time spent waiting in line or traveling to and from other activities can be turned into an educational opportunity by using a fun language app or watching a video in the target language. Now, parents and educators can make the most of screen time with these popular tech-infused language options.

  • Oznoz.com. This site is ideal for young learners (under 6 years old) who may not be able to navigate some of the more interactive language apps and games. Sesame Street, Bob the Builder, Dora the Explorer, whatever common Western cartoon – you name it, Oznoz.com has it in over 8 different languages. With mobile video streaming, Oznoz can be the educational tool you need convert daily screen time into a foreign language experience.
  • Learn Chinese with Emma. Believe it or not, YouTube is a special gem when it comes to foreign language learning. There are several channels, like Learn Chinese with Emma that offer a wide variety of language resources, including language tutorials, classic children’s books in different languages, and even glimpses into the Chinese culture.
  • KidSpeak. By bringing online programs and games like KidSpeak into the classroom, teachers can both satisfy their students’ interest in media and infuse technology and language learning opportunities in every lesson. With KidSpeak, students can learn words and phrases suitable for their age, needs, and interests in over 11 different languages. The program brings language to life through vibrant and eye-catching animations and with over 40 interactive activities, puzzles, and songs, even the youngest learner will stay engaged.

Since technology is here to stay, tapping into the learning benefits that new, innovative games and programs have to offer is a win-win for parents and educators. But, beware of your child’s screen time! For children under 4 years old, physicians recommend that screen time (even if being exposed to a foreign language) should be limited to 2 hours or less.[3] Finding a good balance between using apps to reinforce language and using other non-tech methods is key to keeping young learners engaged in the entire learning process.

I’d love to hear from you, what resources are you using to raise your children in another language?

 

llaceyAbout the Guest Author: Llacey Simmons is a lifelong educator and former owner of a Chinese-immersion preschool. With her interest in technology and foreign language, she enjoys researching the latest educational trends and creating bilingual materials for her young son. Llacey seeks to inspire other monolingual parents, like herself, who aspire to raise bilingual children by sharing her experiences and resources through her blog, Our 21st Century Kids.

 

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/03/health/teens-tweens-media-screen-use-report/

[2] http://www.ijonte.org/FileUpload/ks63207/File/03a.altun.pdf

[3] http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/screen-time/art-20047952

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