Raising bilingual children is to their advantage. With the world becoming more global, it’s more important than ever to teach your child a second language to remain competitive when he grows up.
Whether you live in a non-English speaking country, one of the parents is bilingual or you simply want your child to learn another language, here are things you can do so you can raise your child to be bilingual.
- Speak the language constantly. If one or both parents are bilingual, make it a point to speak the non-English language at home. English can easily be learned by children in school so they will have the opportunity to learn it there. At home, make it a rule to speak only in the second language so that both languages can simultaneously be learned.
- Read bilingual books. A language is learned through the written word. If you can find books that are written in another language, read it together. Most books have an English subtitle so you can read and learn both. There are many Spanish and French children’s books out in the market. You can also purchase Spanish-English picture books and dictionaries written for children so they can learn common words in both languages.
- Use toys that teach another language. If you want to teach your child Spanish, you can use toys. Many toys now have a bilingual mode such as Dora the Explorer toys or some toys made by VTech. These toys are fun and can easily teach your child common phrases, words and sentences.
- Learn from the television. Watch TV programs in another language. If you want English and Spanish, your kids can learn a lot from Dora the Explorer and Diego. Check out the educational shows from PBS. You may also want to watch shows from foreign networks.
- Sing songs. Singing songs is an excellent and easy way to learn a language. You can expose your child to French by singing Frere Jacques. Children can learn Mandarin by singing songs from TV shows. Buy CD’s of songs from around the world. Learn to sing Happy Birthday and different greetings in different languages. You can also learn a language by listening to instructional language tapes.
- Enroll the child in class. If you want your child to learn a language fluently, then you can enroll him in formal classes. During the summer, let your child choose a language he wants to learn, such as Spanish, French, Japanese or Mandarin. In class, he will not only learn to speak the language using tapes and actual instruction from the teacher, he can learn to read and write as well.
- Immerse yourself in the culture or another country. Travel to another country and stay there for a while if possible. It’s one of the best ways to learn the language. If you’re constantly compelled to speak it, you will force yourself to learn it. To prepare for the trip, enroll your child in the foreign language class and arm him with a dictionary and guidebook of common phrases so he can manage.
It’s much easier for children to learn different languages. In fact, studies show that if a child is exposed and learns a language by the age of twelve, he can easily speak the language with the perfect accent. Give your child the advantage and let him grow up bilingual. Make your home a supportive environment that supports all cultures and different languages.