The Secret Method for Teaching Children a Language – Books

This really is a secret. When I ask most parents, what do you think is the most effective method for learning a language, I usually get these answers:

  • Rosetta Stone, CD program, online course
  • A tutor, Spanish lessons
  • Visiting a Spanish speaking country, living there
  • Books that teach the language (like textbooks, learning workbooks)

These are all common answers (and a very viable piece of the Fluency Puzzle) – but somehow it is not common knowledge that picture books can teach you a language. Yes, I know, I mentioned that I receive the answer “textbooks, etc.” – but people are referring to large books which teach you grammar rules, conjugations, rules, and have some examples. These are good and well (especially for adult learners), but not practical for children.

The truth is, children like to read (or be read to). I know, a lot of times it does not seem that way, when you are staring at your child’s cobweb-ridden bookshelf, and they are on the couch playing video games. Books are so powerful, because they FORCE IMAGINATION and cognitive understanding. Good ole fashioned picture books (in print or digital version) simply have a picture and some text. This contains two important things:

  1. The Picture – Children use the picture to infer what is happening, they get an emotional sense from the story, and to get drawn in by the action that is being portrayed. These pictures often have little details, (possibly unbeknownst to you), which can give your child hundreds of different trains of thought). These new trains of thought are considered spurred imagination; and help to enlarge your child’s mental brainpower and to consider more possibilities (whether it be with a picture in a book, or in problem solving).
  2. The Text – The text becomes more and more important as children age. In the beginning children simply see text and know that their mommy will “bring it to life.” By age 3-4, children can begin to relate the shape and physical appearance of a letter, syllable, or word (such as the all important sight words) with a sound. This is the foundation for reading; and can also be the foundation for reading (and speaking) a secondary language.

You see, books are so much more than what meets the eye – and that is good, very, very good for children’s brains.


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