How to Teach Your Child a Second Language
Growing up in a bilingual environment can help set your child up for success in the future. More parents are opting bilingualism than ever, especially in households where at least one parent speaks more than one language. Knowing this, how can you embrace bilingualism and teach your child a second language? In this article, we share some useful tips to make sure that learning a new language is as easy as 1-2-3 for your kid.
Children are like sponges; they absorb knowledge much quicker than adults do. This applies, in particular to learning a new language. If your child is between the ages of two and three, start exposing them to a different language. It is during this period that children notice phonetic differences as well as pronunciation. That is why it is always advisable to watch shows, listen to music, and learn a few words in a different language every day.
Make it fun
Learning a new language should be a natural process, not a chore. Make the experience of learning new words in a second language a fun one. An easy way to teach your child another language is by introducing a new word each day. You could learn along with them by memorizing what each word means as well as how to pronounce that particular term.
If you live in a predominantly bilingual community, hiring a bilingual nanny or babysitter could also be beneficial for your child, especially if neither you nor your partner speak a language other than English. Kids between the ages of two and three will try to mimic what the babysitter says.
One parent, one language
It is critical to establish what language each parent will speak to the child. If, for example, the mom speaks English and Spanish, she could communicate with the infant in Spanish only while the dad speaks in only English. This way, the child will quickly learn to associate each language with one parent and will have an easier time understanding and separating the two languages in his or her mind.
Be patient with your child as he or she starts speaking. There will be times when they make up or use the wrong words. Initially, they may even combine words from both languages within the same phrase; but soon enough they will be able to distinguish one language from the other.
Often, parents in bilingual environments worry that the child may be saying fewer English words than other children the same age. However, if you add their vocabulary from both languages, it is possible they actually know more words. Be encouraging of their progress and use positive reinforcement, so they continue learning the new language.
Enroll in a bilingual school
Some schools offer the possibility of enrolling your children in a bilingual program. If that is the case in your community, take advantage of this opportunity to immerse your child in another language. Be sure the school meets the following criteria:
- teachers are native speakers
- they only speak to the children in the target language
- they are supportive and make language learning fun
If a bilingual school is not available in your area, you may want to consider taking your child to private lessons where they can learn a new language with a tutor. When evaluating a tutor, make sure he or she speaks at a native level and that the class is the right size and a manageable length of time for your child.
Use every tool available to you
Today, there are myriad toys, applications, and resources available to learn a new language. Take advantage of them.
As the sponsor of Read Conmigo, Infinity Insurance encourages and supports bilingual literacy. Every year, Read Conmigo delivers thousands of books in English and Spanish to support parents who wish to raise bilingual children. If you haven’t signed up for this FREE program yet, you may do so by filling out a short form. Did we mention that membership is completely FREE! In addition to the books, parents also have access to other bilingual resources through the Read Conmigo website.
Learning a new language can be a fun experience for your children. Infinity Insurance wants to make sure you are headed in the right direction if you choose to raise bilingual children. Securing your children’s future by equipping them with bilingual skills is as important as protecting your assets, including your home. Call one of our friendly agents at 1-800-INFINITY to inquire about home insurance options through Infinity. Visit www.infinityauto.com for additional information
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