Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Links & Resources to Advocate for, and Educate about, Early Language Learning Programs

I AM FREQUENTLY ASKED ABOUT RESEARCH AND INFORMATION RELATED TO EARLY LANGUAGE LEARNING AND PROGRAMS, as many of us find the need to advocate for our programs and educate parents, districts and communities about the advantages for children to study a second language in preschool and elementary school, and for children to be bilingual, as well inform them on realistic expectations for their child in an #earlylang program. I thought it would be helpful to gather these together in one blog post-please let me know any I've missed and I will add them!

Links & Resources to Advocate for Early Language Learning

*NNELL: The National Network for Early Language Learning is our national advocate here in the US, with many resources for teachers and families on their website. Becoming a member means you also gain access to their journal and resources and you are able to connect with other teachers across the country.

*Lead With Languages is an advocacy initiative from ACTFL, working to educate on the importance of language learning. The link provided connects you to their rationale for early language learning; they have links for all levels so be sure to explore their site!

*ACTFL: The American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages has this advocacy page explaining the research behind language instruction

*Edutopia produced this video on the benefits of language learning for children, could be a great link for parents!

*This article from the Early Childhood Education Journal highlights the benefits of studying a foreign language on language arts & math instruction

*Ñandutí is a website dedicated to preK-8 language instruction and has several articles related to advocacy

*'Beyond the Bridge of Understanding, the Benefits of Second Language Learning' by Martha G. Abbott is an excellent article written for the American Educator.

*The European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe has a section dedicated to early language learning. You can find an additional series of links here.

*Multicultural Kids Blog has collected many resources to help parents advocate for their children being bilingual/ learning another language and being culturally connected. Here is a great set of links for the role of being bilingual.

*The State of French Education in Canada- on pages 7-8 of this report you will find the results of a research study conducted to determine whether there is interference from a second language being learnt on the first language... psst.... nope!

*Invest in FLES: this is a great article arguing the need for FLES programs in the US.

*Heidi Stock, founder of Whistlefritz, did a ton of research and compiled her findings together in this fantastic post on the benefits of being bilingual.

*Advice for homeschool families on bringing a second language to their lives, lots of great info!

*For infographics and other visual resources, I've created a section on my Pinterest board entitled ''Benefits of Learning a Language and Being Bilingual' which you can visit by clicking here.


I also find that it can be helpful when talking with families & admin to give them a better perspective on second language acquisition and what should be realistically expected from an #earlylang program. Here are some links to that end:

Stages of Language Acquisition to Help Advocate for World Language Programs in Elementary

*Stages of Language Acquisition- this outlines the five stages of language acquisition with fantastic prompts for each stage-I have used this basic concept for most of my teaching career to guide me in how I plan my lessons and flow throughout my program.

*Geared for ELL, this article from Colorín Colorado is applicable to all languages and is very informative.

*The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker is one of my all time favorite books, a terrific read for those who are interested in how the brain learns language.

*Ohio Department of Education does a FANTASTIC job of breaking down hours of instruction and expected proficiency level, including for FLES programs (meeting a minimum of 90 minutes a week). An excellent resource for educating parents!

*A breakdown of contact hours for a student to reach various proficiency levels by language-the Ohio document is more applicable to us, as this is based on specific language training, not your average public school setting, but still informative in my humble opinion as an additional resource.

*ACTFL Proficiency Standards Interpreted for Elementary-these are descriptors for Novice Low, Mid & High interpreted through the lens of elementary world language teaching, based on my observations & experiences over the course of 25+ years-can be very helpful in articulating to families what to expect at each level. 


Here are some tips on keeping your program front and center with families, admin and your community!

Again, please let me know what I've missed and I will add them! :)

Minute to Win It Games for SPRING

IT'S OUR MINUTE TO WIN IT GAMES SPRING EDITION! One of my most popular posts is one I wrote a few years ago with NINE games related to Valentine's Day (although you could play them anytime!)-easy to prep, easy to play, and like all games, highly motivating for kids-and as I said in that post, games of all kinds are authentic in and of themselves, making the communication that happens while playing also authentic-yay! (you can read that post by clicking here) Well, with my kiddos getting a little squirrelly before April break, I began thinking of what kinds of games would work for this time of year, incorporating themes of the season.... and here they are!

Minute to Win It Games for Spring Spanish French Classes

*WIND UP TOY RACE: I love these bunny & chick wind up toys, they are irresistable! You can get them at a dollar store very inexpensively, which is great! Draw a circle on a large piece of paper, anywhere from a foot to two feet in diameter (I would experiment first with the ones you purchase as they vary in terms of how far they go-you want the circle big enough that there is a bit of challenge, but still manageable for one to exit). The competition is a simple one-two kids face off with their wind up toys, the first toy to hop out of the circle is the winner!

Minute to Win it Games for Spring World Language Classses

*BABY ANIMAL MATCH: You will need small mom and baby animal toys (or flash cards of the same), sufficient sets for the number of players, each set in a bag or box so the players can't see them. Set the timer, students need to pull out the animals one at a time and start matching babies to mommas. The kid with the most matches when the timer goes off is the winner! NOTE: You will typically need more animal sets for older kids as opposed to younger kids who may still be learning which go with which and therefore might take longer to put the matches together :)

Minute to Win it Games for Spring in Foreign Language Class Spanish French

*EASTER EGG TOWER: I saw a version of this on Pinterest-it is way harder than it looks! You need: plastic Easter eggs and play dough or poster putty. Students have one minute to build their tower using the poster putty to attach the eggs to each other; the tower with the most eggs is the winner, with only one egg touching the table. Note, I did not say the highest! When I did this on my own, my eggs kept toppling over-until I started building on the sides, too. Even so, I only had 6 eggs total lol

Minute to Win it Games for Spring STEM

*FILL THE NEST: You will need a nest, little chicks and a clothespin for each player. The goal: fill your nest with as many chicks as possible-but you can only use the clothespin to transport them into the nest, one at a time. Set the timer- the player with the most chicks in their nest when the timer goes off is the winner :) You can also do this with cotton balls or pom poms and a rabbit, chick or lamb cookie cutter!

*EGG RACES: This is based on a classic game-you will need spoons, plastic Easter eggs, and baskets or bins, one for each end of the "racing course". The goal: to transport as many eggs from the first basket to the second before the timer goes off. To play: have the "starter" baskets containing the eggs, and a second basket across the room or across a section of the playground field (this makes a great activity for outdoors!). Set the timer-students must scoop up an egg with the spoon, carry it to the next basket, drop it in the basket and return to get another egg, and so on until the timer goes off. The player with the most eggs in his/her basket is the winner. (Hint: use smaller spoons for older kids for an extra challenge!)

- These can be done as stations very easily; prior to playing, take a picture (or series of pictures depicting materials & objective) of the goal, post it next to the materials for that station, divide your students up and assign them to the stations, set the timer and have every station competing at the same time. They can then rotate to the next station and so on.
- Any of these games can also be played outside, especially if you have access to an all terrain cart you can carry the materials outside with. Great for those beautiful days when you all would rather be outside!

AND DON'T FORGET TO THROW IN GAME VOCABULARY as students are playing-these authentic expressions are easy to learn and help keep the activities in the target language.

FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, WE HAVE A SET OF GAMES VOCABULARY POSTERS in Spanish that support your students while playing-you can grab them here!

Games Vocabulary Posters in Spanish