Learning a second language when your child has learning differences is possible, but it requires a unique approach!
When my youngest son was in first grade, he participated in a one day a week co-op.
He loved playing with the other kids. He loved the PE class. He looked forward to going every week … except for one thing.
He struggled in the co-op’s Spanish class.
We were in the process of having him evaluated for learning differences so, at the time, he did not have his dyslexia or dysgraphia diagnoses.
It was, however, clear that something was getting in the way of my child learning and the Spanish class seemed to highlight the issue.
I am not proud of it, but I distinctly remember saying to my husband, “He can’t even really handle the English language yet. Why are we stressing out about Spanish!?”
Fast forward six years later.
We know now, exactly what was getting in the way of my son’s learning.
Looking back, I can see that the problem with his Spanish class was not learning the second language itself. No, it was that my son needed to learn it in a different way.
Why Learn A Second Language At All?
Despite our rough beginning, I have been searching for language learning options this year for two main reasons.
- Second language learning has proven benefits for overall success.
- My son is asking to learn another language.
The Proven Benefits Of Learning A Second Language
A recent study from Penn State University showed the following:
Those who were most successful at the task had better-connected brain networks and “functional changes” in the brain as a result of the exercise.
“Learning and practicing something, for instance a second language, strengthens the brain,” professor Ping Li, who led the study, said in a statement. “Like physical exercise, the more you use specific areas of your brain, the more it grows and gets stronger.”
This makes sense to me. By encouraging my son to practice learning a second language, we are opening up and strengthening neural pathways that contribute to his overall success as a learner.
Interest-Led Language Learning
We live in Southern CA. As such, my son has innately developed a limited understanding and appreciation of the Spanish language. When his older brother began learning Chinese as part of his high school curriculum, he expressed a desire to learn Spanish out of his own natural interest.
Knowing that it is obviously difficult for my dyslexic child to access learning in traditional formats, I set out to find new and different options for learning Spanish, that worked with my son’s learning style and needs (not against them!).
Please know, although I was compensated for my time spent writing this post, I only share products that I think will genuinely work for families like my own.
Learning A Second Language When Your Child Has Learning Differences
I began looking for Spanish language programs that met my typical requirements for my son’s learning. This meant a multi-sensory component, the ability to move at my son’s own pace and options for shorter lessons.
One option, that meets all the criteria and is helping my son learn the language is FabuLingua.
FabuLingua is available in an app format, making it perfect for a multi-sensory learning experience. My son has the visual on the screen, the audio reading the language to him and the tactile input required for his device.
Plus, having an app makes FabuLingua that much more accessible and fun.
Self-Paced, Accessible Learning
The FabuLingua method is designed to introduce the new language in a way that subconsciously develops the child’s ear, comprehension and reading skills. Using beautiful and interactive stories, this approach leads to a more natural wiring of the brain to the new language in a way that is effective but feels effortless (and more fun!).
Best of all, my son can progress through the learning at his own pace and in a way that makes sense for his level of ability.
Short, Enjoyable Lessons
For each story, there are several, short options for learning.
- Magical Translations – An interactive image allows my son to click on different aspects of the picture and hear the narrator say the word in Spanish and then in English.
- Spanish Only – My son can simply listen to the story in Spanish.
- Copy Cat – This feature allows my son to listen to a few words from the narrator and then record himself saying them as well.
- Read To Self – After using the Copy Cat feature, my son can read the entire story aloud while being recorded.
- Games – My son’s favorite, there are also featured games throughout the program to provide even greater multi-sensory learning and fun.
Learning a second language with dyslexia can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.
Yes, my child struggled with it in the past, but only because the format was not aligned with how he best accesses learning. If you, like me, are wondering how best to teach your child with learning differences another language, I highly encourage you to take a look at FabuLingua.
In fact, right now, in the midst of so many pressures and stressors associated with learning at home, FabuLingua is actually offering their program for FREE. Take a look at their incredibly gracious offer.
“These are troubling times that our world is facing, and they are a challenge for all of us, physically, psychologically and emotionally.
Families are finding themselves at home much more than before, and some children are having their education slowed or put on hold. At FabuLingua, we feel the burden of the logistical challenges that are unfolding for families.
While we cannot do much to address the physical or psychological impact of this pandemic, we feel we’re in a position to be able to help out families facing more home time. We know (first hand) how hard it is to work from home when your kids there too!
Starting today, FabuLingua is making the full FabuLingua experience available – entirely for free – to all families.”
I was already impressed with their product. Now, I greatly appreciate their care and concern for families like mine.
In addition to this generous offer, FabuLingua is also offering a fun giveaway for Different By Design Learning readers. Enter today for the chance to win a FabuLingua Family Prize Box. Good luck!
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.