sent my boys to school this year instead of homeschooling them, as I did in past years, since I felt my children weren't learning the local language fast enough, and thought full immersion would help them learn it.
Fortunately, 6.5 year old Lee picked up the local language pretty quickly, and while his speech definitely isn't yet on the level of other kids his age, it is good enough for him to make friends who speak only the local language, and this helps improve his grasp of the language.
Ike, on the other hand, had a much harder time picking up the language. He understands a few phrases here and there, but barely speaks a word- his vocabulary is very limited despite being in a class for an entire school year that only was in the local language. We're reaching out to the proper venues to help him with learning the language (I suspect a learning disability having to do with language, because of other speech pronunciation issues he has, but am waiting for an official evaluation), but in the meantime, I asked a friend who had a kid with a similar issue what type of help she got.
This friend said that, in speech therapy, one of the things done to help her son learn the language was by playing a matching game, in our local language, and that was helpful in increasing his vocabulary.
So, in addition to just working on speaking more of the local language in our house with Ike, I decided to make our own matching game. For free.
This doesn't have to be just an educational tool to learn languages; you can also make your own matching game just for kids to have a good time- most kids enjoy matching games, from what I've seen.
What I did was I took 2 cereal boxes, and opened it up with a pair of scissors, and then cut them each into pieces- two big pieces (front and back) and two narrow sides (the tops and bottoms were discarded). Then, using a paper cutter, I cut the sides into smaller squares (or rectangles) with a paper cutter (scissors work as well)- no need to measure with a ruler- its fine if they aren't all the exact same size/shape.
With markers, I colored two of every picture of items I wanted my son to learn how to say in the local language, like house, car, tree, apple, cup, fork, etc... Of course, my sons saw me and wanted to make some as well, so there are a few... uhm... interesting matches in there.
When we play, any item that we turn over, we say its name in the local language. And practice saying "This isn't the same" or "I got a match" whenever suitable. Because of the nature of the game, the turning over of the same cards again and again until a match is found, there is a lot of repetition of the same words, so it'll help the meaning sink in.
Once I see Ike knows the names of all the pictures in the game, I can easily make more cards with new words. When I have a ton of them, it will be too much to be one game, so I'll divide it by category, such as household items, outdoor items, foods, etc... But for now, it's all together.
My kids and I already have played the game a few times since I made it yesterday, and had fun, and even now, I see that Ike has learned a few words from the game.
Free. Fun. Educational. What's not to like?
What games have you made to play with your kids? Any games to teach something? Those of you who are teaching your kids a second language, what games do you find to be most helpful in that endeavor?