3 secrets to effective language acquisition for kids

Why do some children spend years studying a foreign language, but never end up speaking it? One of the main reasons is that they are being taught through boring textbooks. That doesn’t even work with adults, let alone children.

If you’re looking for different results and want your child to actually speak the language, here are some tips on how to organize the learning process.

First, let’s see what effective learning consists of.

What ingredients make for successful language acquisition?




Children need fun in their lives. Especially if all they see in schools are boring teachers and lots of homework. Extracurricular studies should inspire curiosity and teach children that learning can be exciting. In this case you won’t have to make your kids do anything they don’t want to do. They will actually be motivated to learn!

In addition to that, there is a lot of credible research which shows that people acquire new information much faster if they’re experiencing positive emotions. The minute children stop enjoying the process, they stop learning. This opinion is also backed by the American professor of linguistics Stephen Krashen. According to his Affective Filter hypothesis, learners with self-confidence and a low level of anxiety are better equipped for success in second language acquisition. Opposite emotions, such as fear or shame, can form a 'mental block' that prevents effective language acquisition.

Why does it happen?

Mostly because of dopamine – a neuromodulator produced by the human brain when a person is experiencing positive emotions. When our brain perceives something as interesting and fun, it wants to reward and motivate us to keep pursuing our goals. And it does that by releasing dopamine which gives us a feeling of joy and desire for new achievements. In addition to that, dopamine also improves attention, memory and focus.

That’s why if a child isn’t having fun during the lesson – it’s time to find a new teacher!

Relevant speaking points

Instead of using abstract, hypothetical or boring topics it’s better to opt for something relevant to the child: games, toys, favorite cartoons and books. This is one of the most essential points made by Bransford, Brown and Cocking in their book called How People Learn. According to their research, it’s time to give up the belief that children are like “empty vessels to be filled with knowledge provided by the teacher”. Because the truth is, even the youngest learners have their own beliefs and views, which should be taken into account when creating a lesson plan. A good teacher always uses these points to draw the child in and make the learning process relevant and effective.   

Regular practice

Our brain is like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it becomes. The moment you stop using it – it slowly loses everything it has managed to acquire. Regular speaking practice helps create and strengthen neural pathways and allows us to speak without thinking much about it. Even when the lessons themselves aren’t very long, the more frequent they are, the better. And soon enough you’ll see results! 

Secret ingredient

Here’s a little secret: no matter how inexperienced your teacher is, if you make sure lessons include these 3 elements, you will see good results. So instead of looking for tutors who have tons of experience and certificates, just find someone who knows how to make learning dynamic and fun. Add relevant materials and regular practice (30 minute classes 3-5 times a week are a great start) – and enjoy the progress!

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