You have been caring for refugee children in your daycare center for many months now? You’ve studied the issue, attended training sessions and discussed it with colleagues from other daycare centers. Priority is always given to the question: How do children learn German and how do we teach the children the German language quickly and sustainably??
With all good will – there is no time for individual language support programs or elaborate language level surveys. What do you think, therefore, about language support "virtually on the side" – without a great deal of effort in terms of materials, preparation or time? And by doing so, you are in no way devaluing their importance! On the contrary, they focus on what is essential and achievable. And this is what you will find in these 6 tips for your everyday life. How to help children learn German:
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Fire, water, numbers – a numbers game
1. Tip: You are a role model – take advantage of it!
It’s been a long time since Ivan visited our daycare center. And yet it has always remained in my memory. Because he invented a neologism that at first puzzled me.
Because he called the white liquid in the glass "milk licker". It only occurred to me after some time where Ivan got his word creation from – from me! Because I answered his question "What is that??" with nice regularity: "That’s milk – yummy!"
Use your strong role model function to give the children orientation in the German language. And because the children actually take over everything, you check your own language behavior. Because it is possible that one or the other carelessness has crept in among the abundance of words you exchange with the children every day.
With our language check, you can easily check whether you are acting efficiently as a language role model. In addition, you should also encourage such a review throughout the daycare center. Observe yourself and your colleagues and give appreciative collegial feedback when something strikes you. You too can use this feedback to correct and improve your own language example over and over again.
- Use one-word phrases, e.g. B. "Dimitri, down!" Instead of "Dimitri, come back down quickly!"?
- Sometimes lapse into children’s language?
- Are there situations in which you speak of yourself in the third person?
- Has a sociolect, i.e. a kind of group language, developed in your group?. B. Phrases that children understand but outsiders don’t?
- Already respond to children’s finger pointing without the request being expressed linguistically?
- Respond already to one-word sentences of the children, e.g. B. "Tea!" instead of "Can I have tea, please??"
- Use strong gestures and facial expressions so that the child understands but does not have to pay attention to your words?
2. Tip: Over and over again – provide sentence patterns
Especially small children love repetition. It gives them security and the children can look forward to the respective exciting moment beforehand. Give this sense of achievement to children learning language as well. To do this, speak the same sentences several times in succession, z. B.
- while clearing the table: "Mika, please give me your cup! Selma, please give me your cup!"
- while walking in the garden: "Astrid, you’re done and you can go outside! Aaron, you’re done and you can go outside!"
- When handing out meals: "Emma, would you like an apple? Ricky, would you like an apple?" instead of "Who would like an apple?"
Choose rhymes, finger plays, and songs based on how often the same or even similar sentence patterns and sequences repeat – along the lines of: "The more often, the better!" Because this is how children internalize the rules of the German language without consciously learning them.
With recurring language building blocks, encourage all children to play along and thus talk along, z. B.
- "Hansel, beep once"
- "Come along, run along"
- "My right, right place is empty"
With the following classics, you not only enable all children to sing along, because they quickly internalize the recurring text modules. They also expand their vocabulary, z. B. with
- "My hands have disappeared" (body parts are named)
- "Green, green, green are all my clothes" (colors are named)
- "Ten little fidgets" (numbers are called)
In your daycare center, there is certainly a large treasure trove of suitable games and songs that all children can enjoy.
3. Tip: Learning with the left and right hemispheres of the brain
Our brain consists of 2 halves, which take over completely different tasks. The better these halves work together, the more effectively the brain works – and we learn. This applies in principle to all areas of learning and thus, of course, also to language:
- The left – rational – half is in charge z. B. for grammar, words, numbers, logic and analysis.
- The right – emotional half is responsible z. B. for images, shapes, colors, space and melody.
So give the children the opportunity to learn language effectively with the right and left hemispheres of the brain. You can do this by always keeping both aspects in mind: Introduce new terms, make sure the children can touch, taste, hear or see them. Work creatively and sensually, consciously make sure to accompany this with words and concepts.
So when you prepare something for the children, always keep in mind, "What of this appeals to the left brain and what to the right brain??", z. B.
- Songs: the right brain addresses music and rhythm, the left words, rhymes, sentence structure.
- Books: The right brain hemisphere addresses pictures, colors and shapes, the left brain hemisphere words, grammar, sentence structure.
- Crafting: The right brain addresses colors and shapes, the left through your explanations words, logic, thinking about implementation.
4. Tip: All clear? Prepare project topics
What is the name of your next project topic?? Prepare the garden outside for seeding and planting? Expect a visit from the fire department? Plan a field trip to the farm? All the children are sure to look forward to this. And by preparing projects in this holistic way, the children will find lots of new terms and opportunities to speak.
Even children who speak little or no German should be able to follow the exciting events quickly. Only when they understand what it’s all about can they maintain their attention for a longer period of time – plus, calmness returns and disruptions are avoided.
Therefore, take some time a few days before the planned project: With the children who lack the appropriate vocabulary, then gather some things that help prepare the topic linguistically, e.g. B.
- Garden tools
- Toy fire truck and picture books about the fire department or
- Farm Animals
Create rhymes, riddles, games – very simple to learn the most important concepts while having fun.
Practice Tip: Then, to introduce the project topic to everyone, the children you practiced with earlier can carry the items to the center of the circle and show them to everyone.
5. Tip: Remove the bones from everyday life
When you get dressed with the children to go out into the garden, all the children are there and join in, no matter how much German they already know. Do the same while washing hands, eating, brushing teeth, or doing crafts. Because the children orient themselves to each other and simply look at what’s on at the moment. This is good because all children learn the daily routine and you don’t have to explain everything in detail.
But if everyone succeeds in these processes, it does not mean that they have grasped them linguistically. Know which terms related to clothing, dishes, food, or craft materials the children really know?
Therefore, make a game out of it – and a game out of all relevant activities during your daily routine:
- What is a plate, cup, spoon, or knife? To do this, place a complete set of dishes in the center of the table. Then paraphrase the objects. Whoever guesses the answer may put it in front of them.
- What are the names and tastes of different breakfast ingredients?? Children see, smell and are allowed to taste.
- What activities are done, z. B. Pouring tea, spreading bread, etc.? For this, the children play a pantomime, others guess.
- What all belongs to the clothes? Hide z. B. a T-shirt, pants, socks, a dress, shoes, etc. under a blanket. Now slowly pull an item of clothing further and further out from underneath it, the children guess.
Using this language, you can gradually play through all the situations in your daily routine. All children are sure to be enthusiastic about these explorations.
6. Tip: Picking is allowed – work out key words
Cheat sheets you probably remember from your school days. There they were forbidden – here they are expressly desired. Before each new topic that you start with the children, write down on these cheat sheets the words and concepts that you want the children to learn. These are consciously used, repeated, worked out with all senses, looked at, touched ..
So do not only plan procedures and required material, but in the preparation consciously ask yourself the following question about the keywords: "What words and concepts do the children need to understand the project topic??" Keywords are the information needed to understand the meaning of a text or a topic.
By noting down these key words on a project-by-project basis, you will gradually build up a real pool of cheat sheets on the various topics during the daycare year. File these with the project materials you’ve collected, and you or your colleagues will quickly have them at the ready.
By implementing these tips, you will quickly realize: Small effort – big effect. This leaves you plenty of time to spend with your children and enjoy the time together.