If you are wondering whether exposing a young child to a second language early in their development is a good idea, the answer is yes!
Because young children are able to mimic sounds, words, and phrases so well, they often are able to sound like a native speaker of the language! This is something that adults learning a second language might never be able to accomplish. Therefore, people who are exposed to a second language in infancy or early childhood have greater success in learning that language.
There are even more developmental benefits to expose your kids to multiple languages at an early age.
Kids who speak two or more languages need to switch between language systems, making their brain more flexible and active. Thus, they have improved executive functioning skills – the ability to think flexibly, demonstrate self-control, focus attention, and tune out distractions, etc.
Here’re some tips that you can use to develop your kid’s second language skill (no matter whether you’re bilingual/multilingual or not):
- When pointing and teaching babies the basic vocabulary (numbers, colors, shapes etc.), also teach them in another language.
- Play nursery songs in another language as a background music constantly. After a while, your baby will be popping along mumbling the words.
- Label things around the house in second language and practice identifying them.
- Engage in activities that your child loves and make language learning enjoyable. Take advantage of play time together to introduce new vocabulary and phrases.
- Bring your kid to an international supermarket or farmers market and help them recognize the signs and labels in different languages.
- Raising a bilingual child requires consistent language input and practice no matter what language you choose to teach your child.
- Attend Bilingual Storytimes in libraries.
- Encourage your kids to make friends with other kids who speak another language.
- Find bilingual books, read them and help kids recognize vocabulary in both languages and how they correspond to each other.
-Xuan, Children's Librarian at Joel D. Valdez Main Library
Read, Write, Talk, Sing, Play!
Play comes so naturally to children and is an essential element to lifelong success. When children play, they are practicing and perfecting early literacy and life skills!
Read more about early literacy and how you can make a difference in your child's life.