This list includes ideas for supplements to grow vocabulary so you can provide your student with many of the same language exposure and practice that bilingual speakers are exposed to in both languages – a large vocabulary is an important part of learning a language. Including these supplements can give your child a much more authentic and meaningful language experience. Add Songs or rhymes, Audio or video from native speakers, Conversation, Vocabulary, Reading, Writing, Games, Crafts, Self-review, Fun/ Student Choice, and Grammar.
Finally, once your child is ready, try out the Chinese Cross-Curricular Subjects and Other Fun Stuff.
CHINESE SUPPLEMENTS FOR VOCABULARY (ALSO SEE SUPPLEMENTS FOR READING AND SELF-STUDY)
The Chinese book from the “In 10 Minutes a Day” series.
CHINESE CLASS 101
The “101” classes are free, or you can sign up for premium classes at a cost of $4-$23 per month at this time. There is a lot of information available for free. It’s not too hard to navigate. A high school student could navigate it for free. https://www.youtube.com/user/chineseclass101
Influent is a favorite vocabulary game of my oldest child. You wander around an open world setting, doing what you like, clicking on things and being told the name. They describe the game as such, “Influent is a video game aimed at inspiring people around the world to pick up a new language by making vocabulary acquisition and proper pronunciation a fun and rewarding experience. Players explore an interactive 3D environment filled with hundreds of selectable, collectible objects scattered throughout. Each object has a name, and sometimes even a description or action word attached, allowing players to assemble Nouns, Adjectives, and Verbs into custom vocab lists that can be practiced and mastered, eventually unlocking the Toy Commanderesque Space Vole Laser-Blast Fly-By Time Attack Bananapants Blockparty mode!” Right now it’s available in Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French, Swedish, Bulgarian, German, Latin, Korean, Russian, Italian, European Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Finnish, Norwegian, Danish, Hindi. More languages are planned.
Lingotopia is a new favorite game of my oldest child. The first day he played, he collected over 100 words (some new and some he already knew). Their official website description says that “Lingotopia is a language learning game about being lost in a city where you don’t speak the language.” I think the concept probably resonates with a lot of kids because my own kids have made up stories on their own about being lost in a city and having to learn the language to survive. At the time of this writing, it’s available in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish, and seems to indicate that more languages are coming, including Greek.
Here is a little teaser trailer for the Lingotopia game:
Mindsnacks is an app, available on Apple only. You need to make an account. The app is free to download but only one lesson is free. The games are fun for all ages. I enjoy it and so do my kids. You’d have to log in and out for different players, with separate paid accounts, unless your whole family can progress together, because the game saves your progress. It’s still a fun way to boost vocabulary. Available in Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Chinese, Japanese, and some non-Foreign Language subjects.
There are many versions of bilingual picture dictionaries. We like the Visual DK series.
Memrise is free, but you can purchase a subscription. Available on computer and app. The courses vary by language. It’s very similar to using flashcards or self-quizzing, but you don’t have to hold the cards for your child or pick out what to teach them. Everyone I know hates the speed task, just teach your kids to skip it if they hate it, it’s very frustrating. Many languages are available.
Duolingo is free, but you can purchase a subscription. Duolingo is teaches vocabulary, similar to flashcards or self-quizzing, but adds more games than some other options, and includes more grammar. The vocabulary seems to be presented in a different order than other apps. It teaches beginning skills but does not have conversation practice. Available on computer and app.
Busuu is a website or app. There are grammar units, McGraw-Hill level completion certificates, a vocabulary trainer, and conversations with native speakers available. Free to register and do some lessons. Available in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, and Arabic.
Their website says, “TripLingo is the ultimate tool for international travelers. Learn essential phrases, instantly translate your voice or connect to a live translator, get a crash course on the local culture and so much more.” There is a language package that has audio, includes slang, and can translate images. Good for planning a real or pretend trip. There are culture notes, travel tools that help with currency conversion, and a tip calculator. You could make a really fun project out of this. Trip Lingo
Tape flash cards around the house to label things. Older kids can write on post-it notes.
Rock and Learn, Learn A Language: Numbers, Colors & More (Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, German & English)
Rock and Learn, Learn A Language: Numbers, Colors & More (Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, German & English) DVDs in French, Russian, Korean, Spanish, German, Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese. These DVDs are basically like animated flash cards.
Lingvist Appropriate for AP study. Available as an app. If you want to cover a lot of vocabulary, fast, this is an app that does that. Their website says that “Lingvist is the first language-learning tool to harness the potential of technology and computational science to decrease learning time significantly and help you learn effectively.” It’s based off a founder’s experiences with teaching himself French. The student completes 100 cards per day for rapid learning. It is very dry, but effective for a motivated student, and the pace is fast. The app says it’s suitable for all ages but I think that depends heavily on the motivation of the learner. Mainly French Russian, German, and Spanish, but other languages are available.