RAISING A BILINGUAL CHILD
As a parent you may decide to raise your child bilingual. There are a couple of reasons why parents may consider raising their child to be bilingual.
1. Infancy and early childhood are a time when the brain is developing pathways to learn language. By age 2 most toddlers have learned about 50 words. Between two and three years old toddlers learn to put the words together into sentences. Toddlers are not only learning the names of objects, but are learning to recognize emotions and feelings.
2. When a child during the first three years learns more than one language, the brain makes connections in both languages. In fact the Academy of Early Education Ages 6 Weeks to 5 Years states that studies indicate, “that children fluent in two or more languages show greater problem-solving skills and greater creativity”.
3. In many families, family members speak another language. It is important in many cultures to keep traditions and family communication alive and passed down to younger generations. Being able to speak the language of all family members will help to foster self-esteem and feelings of identity for the child. It can aid young children in valuing and respecting their culture .
When teaching your child a second language, remember to make it an enjoyable time for the child. Children will learn better in a relaxed environment. Games, music, and books are all ways to teach a child. Let’s look at some suggestions for helping your child learn another language:
Children mimic what they hear, so it is important that you give your child many opportunities to hear the other language spoken.
Here is a list of ways you can enhance your opportunities to assist your child to become bilingual:
Speak the language in your home. Children learn from when you are talking with them. Use many occasions to speak to your child in both languages. You may want to make a time or place where only one language is spoken. For example: every morning you speak the second language only.
Find play groups where children speak the second language. Child learn from their contact with other children. Giving your child many opportunities to interact with children who are bilingual will enhance their brain development and ability to speak the other language.
There are many TV programs for children where other languages are spoken. Watch the program with your child and talk with your child in both languages.
Reading aloud to your child should begin in infancy. Read familiar stories to the child in both languages. Talk about the story and encourage the child to use words in both languages. Look for books that have second language words embedded in the story.
Music is a wonderful way to help children learn language. Children naturally respond to catchy tunes that they can sing over and over. Find songs, finger plays, and dances that you can repeat over and over to help introduce counting, colors, animals, family member and phrases.
There are many games we play with our children from infancy on. Games like peek-a-boo, I spy, make believe, and counting games that give you the opportunity to use the second language.
Make learning fun!
As your child becomes more fluent in each language, you may find that they will mix the languages in their sentences and communication. That is common as the child grows they will learn to separate the languages.
Taking the child to visit your home country or relatives that speak the second language will give your child important input and stimulation to speak the language.