If you’re debating whether to raise your new baby with two primary languages, stop thinking and DO IT!
Being bilingual is an absolute privilege and it opens a world of career doors and new opportunities in general. Further benefits of teaching your child two languages, just to spur you on a little; a study in America by the College Entrance Examination Board declares a direct correlation between foreign language study and good results at school.
Bilingualism has also been linked to an increase in brain power by researchers from Northwestern University, also in America, say bilingualism is a form of brain training – a mental “work out” that fine-tunes the mind.
So, when can you start?
Experts say that children are born with the ability to learn any language in the world and can understand new words in two languages at an insanely fast rate. In other words, the sooner the better! Talk to your children in the languages of your choice from the day they are born. The earlier you introduce your children to a second language, the better they will be at understanding and learning its unique sounds.
And as soon as your children start to speak, make sure that you talk to them in both languages.
If you, as mum or dad, can speak two or more languages it seems almost obvious that your children will grow up bilingual. But what can you do if you’d like your children to be raised bilingual even though you can only speak one language. Some tips are:
- Encourage friends or babysitters who speak another language to speak to your child in said language.
- Foreign language television shows (like “Dora the Explorer”) will encourage a familiarity with another language.
- If you know a couple of foreign language words, use them repeatedly and your child will pick up the sounds.
These simple things prepare your child’s mind for foreign language classes when he/she is a bit older – children can start workshops as early as the age of 3.
It was reported earlier in the year that as part of an overhaul of the national curriculum, learning a foreign language will be compulsory from the age of seven in England’s primary schools. Starting them off at home will merely give our kiddies a head start!
Sources: bbc.co.uk – “Being bilingual ‘boosts brain power” and “New curriculum ‘to make languages compulsory from seven’”, Parents.com – “6 Foreign Languages Kids Should Learn” and “Bilingual Babes: Teach Your Child A Second Language”.