39 Ways to Practice a Foreign Language in 5 Minutes or Less

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know how much I talk about the importance of practicing foreign language in your homsechool.

I can assure you that there really isn’t a secret to language learning—just like learning math or a musical instrument, it’s mostly about disciplined (and effective) practice.

That said, I also believe that the more natural and enjoyable your practice, the easier you’ll be able to fit it into your life. So today, I want to share with you a list of 39 ideas for how you can practice your target language inside—and out—of your home in just five minutes or less.

This list began as a conversation over in our Language Learning At Home Facebook group, where we now have almost 900 families sharing resources and encouragement for homeschooling foreign languages. Many thanks in particular go to our group member, Nisha, who inspired this post and has allowed me to include some of her creative suggestions here. I’d love if you’d add even more in the comments—we all benefit from sharing these kinds of tips!

  1. Challenge your kids to a sit-up contest and have them count in the target language as they go!

  2. Play Simon Says while waiting on line.

  3. Listen to a song in the target language.

  4. Play “I Spy” in the target language.

  5. Have a “clean up race” where your children identify the toys that they’re cleaning up.

  6. Count steps in the target language when you’re walking somewhere.

  7. Have your little ones create a “zoo” of their stuffed animals, naming each one as they go.

  8. Sing the ABCs in the target language with your children while washing their hands.

  9. Practice a stack of 10 vocabulary words with Linguacious flashcards.

  10. Read a single poem in the target language.

  11. Have your child draw and label a map of a country that speaks the target language—IN the target language.

  12. Memorize one verse of a song in the target language.

  13. Read a short picture book in the target language.

  14. Have your little one practice greetings by waking up and putting to sleep a beloved stuffed animal.

  15. Watch a short video in the target language.

  16. Use Magformer or MagnaTiles to practice shapes vocabulary, challenging your child to create new and different shapes.

  17. Listen to a short audiobook in the target language.

  18. Ask your kids to count household objects in the target language.

  19. Help your child do a bedtime routine for his or her favorite doll or stuffed animal—this offers lots of practice with self-care verbs and vocabulary.

  20. Use refrigerator magnets to practice the alphabet in the target language.

  21. Play an easy math game in the target language.

  22. Play a finger game in the target language.

  23. Read a newspaper article in the target language.

  24. Memorize a short Scripture verse in the target language.

  25. Copy a single sentence in the target language.

  26. Write a magnetic poem in the target language.

  27. Send your kids on a quick scavenger hunt in the house or grocery store for items that you need (in the target language).

  28. Study a map in the target language (you can just Google this!).

  29. Host a “Family Spelling Bee” in the target language with just a few words.

  30. Read a comic strip in the target language, like Mafalda in Spanish or Asterix in French.

  31. Practice nature vocabulary or action verbs as you enjoy a family walk.

  32. Level up on a language learning app like Duolingo or Mango Languages.

  33. Say a bedtime prayer in the target language.

  34. Challenge your older child to brainstorm a list of all of the vocabulary that he/she knows in any given category (i.e. colors, animals, weather, professions, food, etc.). If you have more than one child, you can make this a friendly race.

  35. Practice weather vocabulary while you enjoy your breakfast—look out the window and talk about what weather will be that day.

  36. Use one of Alexa’s language learning skills on your Amazon Echo or other device.

  37. Have kids help with the laundry and practice clothing vocabulary while they’re at it! (Nisha)

  38. Develop a wake-up routine in the target language that includes greetings and going over the day’s schedule (Nisha).

  39. Recite a short poem or other meaningful phrase while you change your baby’s diaper (Nisha).

What more ideas do you have for us, readers? Please share!