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By Julia Solovieva – Language teacher with more than 10 years of experience in teaching English as a second language. You can follow her on FB on Random English.
Many kids just love playing with dinosaur and dragon toys. But can you use dinosaurs and dragons in teaching a second language?
A short answer to that question is yes. Practically any toy can have some educational value with the right approach, and dinosaur and dragon toys are no exception.
Let’s take a more detailed look at how dinosaurs and dragons can help your child learn a second language.
What’s so good about dinosaurs?
Enjoyment plays a great role in motivation and how well people, children as well as adults, learn.
Simply put, if your child enjoys the process of learning, they are not just having fun – they are also learning things more effectively.
This means that when you are choosing toys to help teach your child a second language, the best option is to go with their favorite toys, even if they don’t seem to be ‘language-related’ on the surface.
Does your child love playing with dinosaurs and dragons? Great!
You can use them to teach a second language – some tips on how are towards the end of the article.
Dinosaurs are also great for imaginative games. Playing with them will help your child develop their creativity – and get them talking!
How can you use dinosaurs and dragons in teaching a second language?
Some toys are obviously connected with language learning: for instance, various toys to teach the alphabet.
However, almost all other types of toys can and should be used to teach foreign languages to young children.
Let’s see how you can use dinosaurs and dragons for that purpose!
Colors, sizes, comparisons
If your child loves playing with dinosaurs, they probably have quite a few of them.
Take a look at these toys:
- What color are they?
- What size?
- How can you compare them to each other?
Just from looking at a couple of dinosaur toys you can come up with a few words and concepts to teach to your child.
Start with simpler things, like color and size (‘big’ vs ‘small’), before you move to more complex things like degrees of comparison (‘bigger’, ‘the biggest’).
Prepositions and location
When playing with a dinosaur or dragon toy, you can put it almost anywhere in the room – and use this opportunity to learn some prepositions of place with your child.
You can also learn the names of pieces of furniture and other objects in the room:
- Is the dinosaur in the box?
- Or under the chair?
- Or maybe one dinosaur is hiding behind another?
Always illustrate new concepts with examples – if you are introducing the preposition ‘in’, you need to show the toy inside a box or some other object, and so on.
Dinosaurs and dragons can do a lot of things – especially in an imaginary world where they can do anything!
They can run, jump, fly, dance, sing…
Think of some of the verbs you would like to teach your child in a foreign language: you can probably use a dinosaur to teach many of them.
Try not to force things, though.
If your child says their dinosaur can’t sing or dance, ask them what it can do – and learn these verbs together instead.
You can come back to singing and dancing some other time or with another toy.
Add other toys
You can do and learn quite a lot with just a few dinosaurs and dragons – just check out these dinosaur toys for three-year-olds, for instance, and what they can do.
However, mixing things up is often fun – and good for language learning.
By adding different toys to the mix, you can introduce new words and find new ways to practice what your child has already learned.
Who said that dinosaurs and dragons can’t ride tractors or have tea parties?
Absolutely no one!
Don’t let rules and stereotypes hold you down! Invent crazy stories together with your child and have fun while learning some foreign language vocabulary.
It is also a great idea to watch how your child plays with their dinosaur and dragon toys and base your teaching on that: you may see some unexpected ways to introduce foreign language vocabulary.
After all, children play experts who are very creative, so you can learn something from your child as well while teaching them a foreign language!