Rainy day adventures: learn a new language

A desk covered in childrens activities and Lonely Planet Kids books © Lonely Planet
Make the most of a rainy day by learning a different language! © Lonely Planet

Keeping the kids entertained when it’s miserable outside can be a challenge. If you’re looking for something different to do indoors as a family, we’ll be posting our tips and ideas here on the Lonely Planet Kids blog. First up: learn a new language!

Children’s brains are primed for picking up all sorts of information – nonsensical knock-knock jokes and nursery rhymes included. So why not give them a head start for their future travels with a foreign language lesson?

You might need...

- Internet access
- A laptop, tablet or smartphone
- A pen and paper
- Headphones
- A foreign-language dictionary

A child eats an ice-cream cone in a gelateria, Italy © Anna Nahabed / Shutterstock
Ice cream tastes so much better when you've ordered it yourself in a new language © Anna Nahabed / Shutterstock

How to get started

Pick your language

Perhaps you have a family trip coming up and the kids could benefit from knowing how to order an ice cream; you might live in a place that neighbours a country with a fascinating dialect; or perhaps you just like the sound of a certain tongue. Whether you choose German or Japanese, Italian or Arabic, having either a little understanding of the place where the language is spoken, or indeed a trip to look forward to, will help engage young minds.

Create flashcards

Help the kids to gather colourful card or paper and their favourite felt-tip pens, then make flashcards together in your chosen language using a dictionary or online research. Spend some time memorising the vocabulary as a family, then test each other and see how much you can remember!

Not sure how to begin? Simple words or phrases like ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, and ‘my name is’ are a great place to start. You could learn to count, or perhaps research the words for different colours or animals.

A child uses a mobile phone while wearing headphones - a tablet lies nearby © LightField Studios / Shutterstock
Make screen time educational on a rainy day © LightField Studios / Shutterstock

Download language apps

There are loads of apps out there to help you along with your language learning, such as Duolingo, Babbel, Gus on the Go and Memrise. Learn more key vocabulary in Spanish, English, French, Italian, Mandarin and Japanese with our interactive First Words hub.

Watch videos

There are tons of videos online to help kids learn languages. For example, Lonely Planet Kids have a series of videos that help kids learn French!

And who says you can’t learn sign language? Note the differences between American and British sign language in this helpful video led by two young signers.

Sing along to your favourite tunes – with a twist

Next time you load up the kids' favourite DVD, opt for a dubbed version in your chosen language if available. This is especially effective if your children are very familiar with the film or cartoon. Set subtitles to your first language and see if you can hear and identify key vocabulary or phrases. Alternatively, search for foreign-language nursery rhymes or dubbed Disney songs online and sing along!

Kids Blog - First_words_spanish_AUUK_1.9781786573162.pdp.0

Our First Words books feature 100 travel-relevant words – from food and transport, to animals and weather. Each double page features one word with a simple pronunciation guide paired with a bold, fun illustration to give the word context – and help make remembering the new vocabulary easy and fun!

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