What is ‘third language’?
It is a language subject available to your child if they obtained a score of 24 or better in their Primary School Leaving Exam (PSLE). Your child can choose to learn a variety of languages in secondary school like Japanese or Spanish.
But you might struggle with helping your child with this subject if you don’t speak the third language they choose. Here are some ways you can support your child in learning their third language.
Provide Them with Resources
If you don’t speak your child’s chosen third language, one of the best ways you can support them is to provide them with resources. Specifically, lessons and masterclasses to teach your child the language so that you don’t need to teach them yourself.
This is better for your child since they’d get the professional help and assistance needed to do well in their third language.
Learn Together with Them
Another way you can support your child is to learn with them. Since you and your child are not fluent in the language, you can learn and improve together.
This shows your child that you are willing to try out what they want, and as you spend quality time together learning, it improves your relationship with your child. You also learn a new language, so you expand your skill set!
How can you learn with them? Here are some ways you can do that.
1. Attend masterclasses together
2. When they’re doing their assessment books, sit and go through the questions with them
3. If there is a phrase, word, idiom etc. that any of you are unfamiliar with, search it up together and discuss ways to use it
4. Read the texts in their textbook together and try to understand the keywords and phrases together
5. Converse with them in the third language
Converse with Them
When learning a new language, your child needs to practise speaking to others in that language, increasing their exposure to it.
Studies show that by practising speaking a new language, your child learns to identify the basic words and vowel patterns. Not only that, but it also improves on their sentence structuring and grammar use.
Don’t worry if you cannot speak the language, it is good to use this opportunity to learn with your child (refer to my previous point). It also shows them that you are there for them and ready to help them improve their third language.
Watch Movies and Shows
This lets your child learn and listen to how the language is spoken and how sentences are structured. Many shows offer English subtitles that your child can refer to if they don’t understand certain words.
This way, the family can understand the movie by reading the English subtitles, and it is also a great way to spend family time.
With travel opening up, travelling overseas is a great way to support your child during your vacation. If you plan to travel abroad for a family holiday, consider visiting countries that use your child’s chosen third language.
While overseas, your child can take this opportunity to familiarise themself with reading and conversing in the language. For example, they can read signboards, menus and brochures, and they can chat with the locals too.
By doing this, they learn to recognise characters, tenses, sentences and phrases that they can use during their exams. It is also an opportunity to spend family time. Do take your budget into account and make sure that the entire family is alright with it.
Helping your child in a language that you are not proficient in can be difficult, but it is still important to show your support and that you are always there for them.
Let us know what other ways you help your child with their third language in the comments!