As parents, as soon as we have our baby, we jump into the joy of parenting. Everyone can agree that time goes by so quickly and our sleeping little infant is now a bustling little crawler. We try to teach them as quickly as possible everything they need to learn, including language. However, when is an appropriate time to teach a second language? We may want to pass down the language of our culture but we do not want to overwhelm the child and have the child confusing two languages.
Teaching your child your culture’s second language or enrolling them in a language class is a beautiful gift you can give them. They can connect with their culture or learn another culture, be able to communicate with many more people and in the future it will provide further job opportunities. Most countries around the world have more than one official language so get your child started!
BABIES AND YOUNG CHILDREN ARE LITTLE SPONGES
Speak to your baby or child slowly and let them hear the pronunciation of each word. If you were teaching your child French as a second language, for example, you would say, pointing to multiple objects, “one, two, three” “un, deux, trois”. Incorporate both languages clearly and consistently. It’s a lot of repeating on your side, but it will make a great deal of difference.
LISTEN TO CHILDREN’S MUSIC IN BOTH LANGUAGES
Youtube is an excellent refresher for you on all of the cute baby songs in your language of choice. Relearn them, let your child sing with you or sing to your child. What a treat it would be for your child to go to school and teach his or her class a song in a different language!
EXPOSE YOUR CHILD TO THE CULTURE, NOT JUST THE LANGUAGE
Even though we cannot all jet set to spend an afternoon in France, or have tapas in Spain, we can visit restaurants, areas and people who are of that origin! Have French play dates with other French families! Take your child to that Arabic restaurant you have wanted to try! Order food in the language you are trying to teach your child. Have a day where you try to communicate in your second language with native speakers. People love to teach and are flattered when you walk into their shop or restaurant with a child who is trying to learn the language. They may provide you with other resources or at least, new words with your child. People in the community are great resources for teaching your family new words and how to communicate in different languages.
CELEBRATE THAT CULTURES SPECIAL HOLIDAYS
Attend festive days or celebrate holidays of the language your child is trying to learn. There is always an excuse for a party! Invite friends and family and have your child teach them new words and phrases. Let the student become the teacher!
Repeating yourself, exposing your child in your culture and showing them the difference between English and their second language are key points to having a bilingual or multi lingual child. It is a great gift to get your child to connect to their culture, excellent job opportunities in the future and most importantly, your child receives the leadership skills it takes to command in both languages.