Knowing two or more languages is an incredibly valuable skill in today’s global society. People with foreign language skills are better candidates for schooling and jobs. To help your child have that multilingual edge, here are five things you can do.
Start from Day One
The earlier you start teaching your child another language, the better. You can start talking to your child in a second language from day one. If you don’t start that early, it’s never too late to begin. Don’t worry about confusing your child. It’s actually easier for younger children to learn two languages at once than it is to learn a second language as an adult when you’ve already become fluent in a first. Talk to your child in both languages, and tell them words in both languages for everything. Enlist the help of all relatives who speak the second language.
Practice with Books
As early as possible, you can also start showing your children books in another language and reading them out loud. Kids love books, and books teach them a lot. If they have books to read in both languages, it will help them develop their reading and writing skills, in addition to just speaking and understanding the language. When your child starts picking their favorite books, get those books in the second language, too, to help them learn even better. Multilingual babies exposed to a variety of visual and auditory queues via reading do have a tendency to grasp accents quicker than those that are not exposed to new sounds at an earlier age.
Get Them Lessons
Foreign language lessons can also start at a young age. As soon as your child is old enough to start learning in a school-like setting, they can begin learning the same things in another language, too. Check to see if there are lessons available with any local cultural or religious organizations, or elsewhere. Sign them up for lessons as soon as you can. Making a second language an extracurricular activity is a smart idea that will help your child advance in life.
Expose Them to Culture
Being multilingual isn’t just about knowing another language. It’s about being fluent in another culture, too. Expose your child to cultural experiences as often as possible. Rich experiences such as visiting museums, restaurants, markets, or having them spend time with people of that culture is an excellent way to make things really come to life for them. Not only will it help them learn the language, it will help them be more culturally-sensitive, which is a tremendous advantage for anyone who learns a second language. Any chance they get to practice the language in a real-life setting is extremely beneficial, too.
Keep It Up
There are always new things to learn about a language, even if it’s one you’ve been speaking your entire life. To make sure your child always has the multicultural edge, make sure they continue learning and practicing as they grow up. Continue to speak the language in your home whenever possible, and encourage your child to become invested in their studies. Learning a language can be a very fun experience. If your child is having fun, there’s no reason for them not to continue with their studies.