Tips For Raising a Bi-Lingual Baby

Do you have a multicultural household and want your baby to learn more than one language? Or maybe you know the benefits of being bilingual and want to expose your child early on? Teaching your baby a foreign language is not as challenging as you might think. In fact, since children absorb the most information in the first few years of their life, the earlier you start, the easier it is for them to learn.

There are tons of methods out there to teach your children a second language. Some of them are pretty confusing for parents and the children, others are actually very successful and easy. Below are some of the best methods to consider for you and your baby:

  • Classes – If bilingual immersion schools are not offered in your area you could also consider enrolling your child in an extracurricular program for children who are learning second languages. These types of programs generally take place on the weekends or evenings. This is a great option in that it also allows your child the opportunity to learn from their peers and receive support from a certified and trained educator.
  • Bilingual Immersion – This is a teaching method that’s catching on for many parents in the US. It’s a program in which integrates academic curriculum and learning a new language. Children do everything in the language they’re trying to learn. Everything from the materials they use to the conversations they have in class are all in another language. Through effective listening, repetition, and continual practice, students eventually learn to fluently speak another language.  This works if you want to send your little one to a class and have them available in your area.  Or you may have private teacher (or childcare provider) who does this.  In bilingual families, one parent may speak only one language, and the other only English.  Skype lessons are another option for an older child.
  • Books and Videos – Another option for teaching your children another language would be with the help of books and videos. If you’re fluent in the language you’re teaching your child, reading to them in that language can help them learn how to pronounce words and write. Videos can also be an option. Children love to interact and engage as they learn at an early age, and videos are a fun method for introducing the language. For instance, watching a few episodes of Dora the Explorer might help your child to learn basic Spanish vocabulary a lot easier.  There are many immersion programs, such as the Little Pim series.
  • Communicate With them Often – Just as you helped your child to develop English-speaking skills by speaking to them regularly, the same works for learning a second language. If you’re fluent in the language, try talking to them as often as possible in that language. When you’re in the house especially, ask those in your home to also speak the language so that they are part of helping your child to learn. The more you speak the language in the home, the easier it is for your child to catch on.  Again, having one parent always speak each language may work for your family.
  • Travel to a Foreign Destination – Exposure is often the best method of teaching for younger children. If you have the means, taking a trip to a foreign destination where they speak the language you’re trying to teach your child can work wonders. They get to hear others using the language freely and fluently. If you can’t afford international travel, you could also consider going to an area where people often speak that language. For instance, a trip to China Town might help your child pick up on Chinese language.
  • Make it Fun – Don’t get into the habit of drilling or over teaching your child. Resistance sometimes develops when a child feels forced. Try to keep it fun. Play games, dance to songs in another language, and just make it a part of your daily lives. The more fun they have with it, the easier it will be for them to catch on.

There are a multitude of benefits in teaching your child a second language. It exposes them to the beauty in other cultures and opens up a world of opportunity for them in the future. You can use many methods to make learning a new language a lot easier and fun for you and your child. Evaluate each of the above methods and decide which one(s) are right for you. Remember that intense study can come later.  Be patient and let your child to practice often – and in time they’ll speak in two languages!

References:

Helping Your Child’s Language Skills Develop

http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/language/teaching-second-language/

http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/earlychildhood/article_view.aspx?ArticleID=60