Learning a language at primary school is more than just words; it’s a gateway to other cultures.
From a cultural perspective, rhythm and music can be as enriching as words. There's lots of free foreign music online, or go to www.live-radio.net to find foreign local radio stations. CDs and DVDs designed specifically for young children can work well too. Look out for local music events in your area, remembering to look further than the countries on your doorstep that speak the language. Don’t worry too much if you don’t understand the words of songs and are unable to find them written anywhere, as your child will still be absorbing the sounds and feeling immersed in the foreign culture.
Pancakes, pizza or Italian ice cream always go down well, but again, look a little further for more unusual typical dishes in other countries where the language is spoken. Children will enjoy cooking sweet and savoury foreign recipes at home with you, perhaps practicing some food vocabulary. The Usborne Children’s World Cookbook(Usborne, £6.99) has recipes from around the world, or for a special treat, take your family to a foreign café or restaurant in your area to sample typical dishes, recognise some words on the menu and maybe use a few phrases.
You don’t have to visit the country to soak up its history and art and broaden your child’s horizons about the people who speak the foreign language. Look out for short accessible TV programs, or books and websites focused on countries in which the language is spoken, perhaps featuring a famous artist such as Goya, or a monument such as the Eiffel Tower. Visiting museums and art galleries is another great way to teach your children about key people and events from a country's history.
This is a healthy and accessible way to interest children in foreign language and culture and children from all backgrounds can often be inspired by sport. Major football tournaments and the Olympic Games are a good way to follow world teams, perhaps learn a few phrases and watch TV coverage about the host countries. Some children also enjoy following other foreign teams, particularly those for which famous British players are playing.