I’ve always wanted my daughter to try learning different languages by the time she’s seven (which they say is the ideal age to learn a new language). While she’s already bi-lingual — she mostly speaks English and has started to re-learn Filipino — she has shown interest in learning another language. This is mostly because her school has a very diverse population and she’s friends with kids that speak other languages, too. So, I strated doing research for free language learning apps and websites for kids. Here’s what we found:
- Maori – We started with an obvious choice. Maori is one of the two official languages of New Zealand. The kids use this everyday in school, so I thought this would be a good place to start. We found this wonderful website: https://www.speakmaoriforkids.co.nz/ The bite-size lessons are easy to follow. Maori words are quite similar to Filipino ones with the use of multiple vowels and the pronunciation of each syllable. So we’re probably going to go with this one first.
- Spanish – If you’re looking for really good paid lessons, I’d recommend Instituto Cervantes . This is where I learned most of the Spanish words and phrases I know. They have excellent programs, too. If you’re looking for free learning resources, I would say try DuoLingo. The actual teaching of the language is limited, but it is good for kids because they gamified the experience. Plus, it is available for free forever (you can, of course, upgrade to the paid account if you wish). They also have other languages available but I found it rather difficult to learn those that involved different characters when using this app. As it is an app, it needs to be downloaded.
- English – The British Council has a very comprehensive website with a wide variety of resources for kids to learn English. You’ll find it here: https://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/ There are videos, sound files, printable excercises and games.
- Japanese – Web-Japan is a website by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. It’s a colourful website with a lot of resources for learning about Japanese culture. The language portion is mostly written (which would probably be a good way to go to learn the characters). You’ll find the language lessons here: https://web-japan.org/kidsweb/language/index.html
- Korean – Loecsen offers a lot of language courses, but I was particularly interested in their Korean course. This site combines the characters with the sounds. It goes directly to the essential phrases instead of going by character. You’ll find it here: https://www.loecsen.com/en/learn-korean
- French – The French Experiment (https://www.thefrenchexperiment.com/) has a lot of free lessons that focus on topics like question words, numbers, time concepts, etc. It also has a section on French children’s stories.
- Chinese – I liked the free video resources and word games found at Panda Tree: https://www.pandatree.com/FreeLearningMandarinResources For easy-to-remember pinyin, try: https://www.chineasy.com/learn/ Both websites offer paid lessons, but kids can learn a lot just from the free resources.
More free language lessons and resources:
- BBC Languages – You can get a lot from this site, but it hasn’t been updated in a while so it still uses flash. If you don’t mind the slower site and using flash, then you’ll unearth a lot of language lesson treasures here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/
- Watch Know Learn – This website aggregates language learning videos. While it’s hard to find exactly what you’re looking for (ie language learning based on age), you might find some useful videos here: http://www.watchknowlearn.org/Category.aspx?CategoryID=99