Written by KOM parent Ashley Shannon | May 19, 2021
Whether it was because you want to keep your kids away from the summer language slide or you just recently discovered the superpower of learning a second language, you signed up for a Kids On Mission class through Charleston Bilingual Academy.
How to Make the Most out of A KOM Class
Our family has an intermediate and beginner Spanish speaker. Both students have used KOM for their language learning since last summer. Here are our best tips and tricks for making the most of your student’s summer of language learning.
Set Your Student Up for A Great Zoom Call
Remember those standardized tests you took when you were in school? That’s how you’ll want to set up your student for his or her Zoom call. (Except without the number two pencils.) Here is a checklist to get you started:
- Quiet space with room to bust a dance move if needed
- Minimal distractions (for my family, that means AWAY from the dog and the other sibling)
- Make sure your student has eaten and used the bathroom BEFORE the call starts
- Ensure that you or an adult is nearby in case your student has technical difficulties and needs help
I found that my three year old needed me to be right next to her when she first started KOM calls. She was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. Later, she replaced me with a teddy bear, who became her “friend” to take the call with her. Then, eventually, she was comfortable just being on the call herself.
Read the Powerpoint
Our family takes calls on Tuesday and Thursday because it works best with my son’s school schedule. That means my daughter and I will read the PowerPoint lesson on Monday before her call. Then after their call Tuesday, I’ll have my son re-read the PowerPoint lesson. In that way, my son is practicing his reading, and my daughter once again hears the target language. The more exposure they have to the words, the more they’ll get them in their head.
Illustrate the Targeted Words
Every week, there is a list of targeted words. These words are used frequently in the PowerPoint lesson and Zoom call. We like to take any of those words my daughter doesn’t know and illustrate them. You could make this into a flashcard, but we prefer to make it a poster. That way, my daughter can hang it up in her room, and I can ask, “¿Qué es eso?” or “What is this?” Illustrating also appeals to her artistic side.
Create Actions to the Songs
Singing songs is a great way to learn a language. We listen to the YouTube songs recommended by KOM when we read the PowerPoint, plus my kids like to make up actions to complement the words. In that way, students are using their whole bodies to engage with the new words. I recently talked to a nurse who had been away from a language she had learned as a young adult. She said that as soon as she started doing the actions associated with the words she wanted to use, the language came back to her quickly. Just another incentive to get moving!
Listen to the Radio and Watch your Favorite TV Shows in the Target Language
We LOVE reading books, but we also have a lot more screen time during the summer. We’ve watched Disney’s Frozen in Spanish and lots of PBS’s Daniel Tiger and WildKratts. You can generally get clips on YouTube or purchase the Spanish versions through a streaming service. Even Netflix has shows where you can switch the language (like PJ Masks). Just look in the control settings. Our favorites, though, are listening to children’s stories on BBN radio. (They also have an app with Mandarin, Spanish, and several other languages.) Or, we love watching Superbook, which is in many languages you can choose from. (Just click on the language/flag symbol on the upper right-hand corner.)
Live It Out
The best way to learn a language is to use it! Try going to a restaurant or church where you’ll find people speaking your student’s target language. This is usually a great bilingual situation as well. You can explain that your student is learning the language and would love to talk. The worst that people can do is say, “No.” But more often than not, I’ve found people very excited to speak Spanish with my children.
As a parent, be a part of the language learning yourself. Make mistakes. Show your student that learning another language is fun. Celebrate their success! Learning is a lifelong journey. Helping your student appreciate the gift of language learning is one of the best things you can give your student this summer.
If you haven’t signed up for a KOM summer class, what are you waiting for? Sign up Today!
What are some of your tips and tricks for a successful KOM class? Share with us in the comments below!