Many of our customers who have purchased our DVDs for the foreign language tracks and flash cards have been asking us to write a blog about teaching children a second language. Well, here we are!
The idea of teaching your little one a second, or even a third language may seem daunting and even unnecessary at first. Where would he/she use it? Wouldn't it be easier when he/she's older? They don't teach it in his/her school. How would I even begin?
The good news.
As intimidating as these and other questions can be, once you start, you'll find that it isn't as difficult as you may think. Seriously. Children's capacity for absorbing information is far greater than that of adults due to the flexibility and incredible attentiveness that their developing brains possess. If immersed early on, children can not only learn how to understand the basic rules of other languages, but can even begin to pick up subtle nuances in pronunciation that are typically exclusive to natives.
Still not convinced it's worth it? Let's look at just a few of the benefits to teaching your child to speak another language.
Research has shown that the process of learning another languages actually enhances the brains capacity to learn and develop. Most children introduced to new cultures and languages before the age of six have shown a greater aptitude for learning and have significantly 'out performed' their peers in standardized tests and other academic assessments.
A study conducted by neurologists at University College London showed that children who were learning second languages were actually increasing the grey matter - the tissue directly related to processing information - in their brains. And, whats more, the younger the students were, the more additional grey matter they developed.
Will I be inhibiting his/her ability to learn their native language?
No. In fact, it typically enables your child to learn their own language faster and better than they normally would. Learning multiple languages at a time only helps your child understand the concept of language itself, and how it functions across many cultures.
So how do you get started?
If you or your partner are fluent in another language, then try to begin there. Speak to your child in both languages as equally as possible. Total immersion is the best way to learn a language at any age.
What if we only speak one language?
Single-language homes simply have to be more creative when it comes to teaching your child a second language. Here are a few things to try.
Videos, games, and computer programs, oh my!
Use technology to your advantage. Their are numerous programs out their that will help your child to experience another language both visually and audibly. Maybe even you and your partner can get in on the act by sitting and learning along side them. Make it fun. Spend quality time with your little one while you are singing, playing, listening, and clicking your way to another culture.
Make it a play date.
Another great way to immerse your little one into a foreign tongue is to organize a playgroup with children who speak the language you want him/her to learn. Make it a mutually beneficial experience by involving children who also want to learn your child's native language.
Hire your very own bilingual Mary Poppins.
Good nannies/sitters come from all cultures. Hire someone that will speak in both your child's and their own language. Just be sure you have thoroughly checked this person's references, and can trust that they aren't being inappropriate when they know you cannot understand them, or aren't around.
Enrolling your little one in a bilingual class is also a very good option. You might even decide to attend with him/her and learn something you can both share.
So, there you have it. Learning/teaching a second language isn't all that hard when you start young and stay creative. Now get out there and try something new. You might be surprised at what you and your little one can accomplish when you learn together.
This blog post was provided by Stephanie Parker - our blog writer extraordinaire!