A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

A large family, homeschooling, adoption, special needs, whatever strikes my fancy, sort of blog.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

5 Ways to Expose Your Child to Foreign Language

As an adoptive parent, it's important to me to continue to expose Katie and Hannah to Mandarin.  My hope is that they will have some familiarity with it when we go back to visit China.  Whether you're an adoptive parent or not, in today's global society, knowing a second language gives your child an edge.  Read on for ways you can help that happen.

Many of my examples will be for learning Chinese, specifically Mandarin, but the ideas apply to any language, and there are some resources that are for multiple languages.  Also, some links are affiliate links.

Homeschoolers tend to turn to books, regardless of what we're trying to expose our kids to!  Amazon has more bilingual books for kids in Mandarin now than they did when we were in the process of adopting Hannah.

Usborne also has an extensive selection of Spanish books for kids, and resources worth checking out in German, French, ASL, and Chinese, too.

The Pet Dragon is a fabulous one for kids learning Mandarin or Cantonese, since it gives kids a visual picture to go with Chinese characters, making it easier to remember them.

You can even get books that will speak to your child.  Chinese Learning Touch and Talk Kit (LOYO pen)

Little Pim comes in Spanish, Chinese, French, Italian, English/ESL, German, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, and Hebrew, and is available in DVD form, or, many of the episodes are FREE on Amazon Prime.

Speaking of FREE, try YouTube!  Sure, you have to wade through some weird stuff, but there are some great things there, too.  How about Fun Fun Elmo Mandarin Lessons?

Anyone teaching their kids ASL should know about Signing Time and Baby Signing Time.  When Jack was little, he was speech delayed, so we used Baby Signs with him.  In fact, he appears briefly in the Baby Signs Potty DVD.

Kids learn through play, and making a language FUN makes it easier to learn, right?  Here are some toys that can help:
Chinese Character Blocks
My Chinese Coach - Nintendo DS
Magnetic Poetry Kids' Chinese Kit
Little Pim Mandarin Chinese Flash Cards for Kids
Chinese Learning Touch and Talk Kit (LOYO pen)

Children's Foreign Language Program
For young kids, I recommend Dino Lingo's program.  It comes in over 80 languages!  We reviewed it here, if you'd like to hear our personal experience with it.

For older kids, I recommend Mango Languages.  We reviewed that one, too, but Hannah was too young for it.

We actually purchased a couple of CDs while we were in China, but you can also find foreign language music on Amazon.  I have a worship CD on my Amazon wish list that comes in not only Mandarin, but also Russian, Korean, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Swedish and German.

Also, if you're in an area where you can get radio in the language of your choice, it can be helpful to have that going in the background as you're doing other things.

It may sound silly, but Pinterest is a great resource for foreign language materials and activities, too.  I have a board just for Learning Chinese, so I can keep track of ideas as I come across them.  I also have a board that Brianna and I both pin to when we come across resources for learning Spanish, which she's planning to take in school.

Are you exposing your kids to another language?  I'd love to hear what you're doing.

Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote! Thanks for clicking for us!


  1. These are great resources! Thanks for sharing!

  2. We also say our daughter came to to the wrong country, LOL...she cant speak English, but we have had her repeat a Greek word and we are NOT Greek! Hubby jokes that she isnt speaking because English is too boring for her! We always say that besides sign, that maybe WE should learn another language, as she may prefer whatever that is to English! :-). Should pick the most obscure language, the most difficult and she will likely love it!!! Thats our theory and what we are going with these days, that she is to smart for our primitive words!!! LOL. Shes probably thinking, "WHO the heck adopted me, a bunch of monkeys??? Man their words, I mean seriously I am to above that". ( laugh)

    1. Was she speaking in her first language when you got her? (I don't remember how old she is, sorry!) I'm sure you've had hearing tests and such done. I'm really hoping to get Luke into speech therapy, but I've been told I'll have to fight for it here. I would think that no words (in any language) at 3 years old would automatically qualify, but we'll see what shakes down at the IEP next week.

    2. Shes nearly 4 years old and had pretty much 3 words coming home and nothing more and still is pretty much the same nearly a year later. She has picked up some sign language, which she uses accurately, but no spoken words, and we really have no idea why she doesn't speak. We had a hearing test scheduled and had to cancel and hope to get her in again soon. With our move, its been crazy here, but she has been in speech therapy a good while and has an IEP and began preschool this summer. I am so praying she spontaneously begins to speak, the speech teacher feels she will,but I am beginning to accept she may not. She babbles though like crazy and has so many sounds, can imitate sounds we make, and lately tries to sound out a few sounds, but she loves to keep her mouth shut while vocalizing at times, which is kind of funny, but frustrating too because we are like just open your mouth. Ahhh! So close yet so far! :-( Hubby feels a small light is turning on in her brain because she is beginning to finally show some affection, like nose nuzzles, finger touches, hugs, kisses, high fives and throwing kisses. She also loves to clap her hands if she does something she knows we like her to do. She will even see us outside from the window and will throw kisses, and peek a boo, but we aren't sure if these are true affections or just learned but we take them, because at times lots of these interactions are her idea...so we wait and hope. She seems super smart, and is, as she remembers so much we do with her, yet she acts so so young in many areas. Physically she is so NOT delayed, but really its the only area she does exceptional in. Ironically, for a supposed autistic type child, she wants interaction, and loves us to hand over hand "help" her even though she can do much on her own. LOL I pray we can figure out her puzzle, cause wow these kids are perplexing aren't they?

    3. They certainly are. It sounds like she's made progress in your family, albeit slowly. I'm jealous she's getting speech therapy. Luke isn't, and I've been told I'll have to fight for it if I want him to have it in preschool. Um, he's nonverbal! Of course I want him to have speech therapy! :sigh:

      It's too bad you're not local to me. We could provide plenty of play dates with kids her age, since she's the same age as my Katie.

    4. I am definitely not local to you and wish I were, but the area I am in is great as far as giving major services to kids in need. The only problem is most of the therapists, etc... While accomodating know her type of issues but do NOT get how orphanage behavior and trauma also play a part. They try but reality is many of the teachers too just dont have experience with it as many are young. The only one who gets it all is the speech lady as many adopted and autistic type children have come through her doors. I think for our family, while she is a pretty easy child overall, we quickly realized that we just are not the right "type" of family for her! Hubby and I so want to work with her, we truly do, but its going to be an uphill battle we'll never win yet I truly feel in another family with kids, oh my gosh will She do well. I accept that, but its so hard to realize that its reality because we felt led to her based on her file. We knew our family structure and had felt she would do great in her new home here with ALL of the attention. But that has so not been the case! I remember you saying once if only Luke was an only or something on that lines. Well, I am living what you said, I have other almost grown kids who so miss me being a huge part of their lives as everything in their family has changed. But these same kids, have been understanding about it all and have given me freedom to take care of her, to love on her, do everything any typical child would thrive on, yet, progress and change is spotty at best. Going into this I knew she would take time to develop and was even ok accepting her major limitations if she had them, no questions asked. What I could not have forseen entirely from videos I got from her, was how angry she can get, how neglect could impact her brain so badly! Because we got her pretty young I believed strongly that we could help her tremendously as her SN is not something we aren't experienced with. But personality plays a huge part too, she naturally has a bit of a temper and is unusually strong. With my health and as she ages, theres no way I could handle her longterm, and this scares me. I never would have thought a child coming from an orphanage could be super human strong, without my hubby to help with her, or my older 2, there is no way I would have made it this long. I know at this point, we are feeling awful because we want her, but realize we just may be in over our heads. Not having her will leave a huge void in our lives and the only route to expanding our family is the bio route, which is fast becoming extinct with my age. I always wanted to adopt and chose this route over another bio child and it sickens me to think that it may have been the wrong road to take afterall. I love adoption, always will, but if I could go back, I would have had 1 more bio child before adopting. Hindsight, sigh!

    5. Sometimes, it's just a matter of plodding along, doing the next thing, isn't it? No easy answers. I appreciate you sharing with me. I feel less alone. Most adoption stories end with, "And they lived happily ever after!"

  3. What a great list of ways to learn another language!

    1. Thanks, Susan. All I need now is the determination to sit down and study it, lol.

  4. Wow! My head is spinning. Thanks for the great list Shecki!

    1. Didn't mean to make you dizzy! ;) I'd love to hear of any additional resources you come across.

  5. What a great list! Thank you so much for sharing! I've wondered really how to teach a second or third language to Baby Boy, especially at home. This list is helpful :)

    Swinging by from the Manic Mondays hop!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear what languages you're considering for your son.

  6. This is a great list of resources. I do NOT think it's silly to list Pinterest at all. I actually used a ton of resources through Pinterest when teaching my son how to read. He was reading before Kindergarten :)
    P.S. You have a beautiful cast of characters.
    Thank you for sharing via Mommy Monday.

    1. Thanks! I'm relatively new to Pinterest, having held out against "another social media" for a long time, but boy, it didn't take long for me to be hooked! I try not to browse, but it's great for searching! And somehow, I always end up finding *other* interesting ideas there, too. :)