Do you know who rarely says that languages are too hard to learn? Children. Childhood is the perfect time to become bilingual, trilingual, or perhaps even quadrilingual!
As a parent, how do you help your child master a new language? Read on for five great ways to bring out the master linguist in your offspring!
While it's certainly possible to learn a language as an older kid or a grownup, it's a lot harder. The reason schools now push foreign languages on kids in grade school is because that's the ideal age to learn!
Young children, quite simply, are natural sponges of information. If they learn something, it is far more liable to stick in their long-term memory then if an adult tries to grasp something new.
So take advantage of this scientific fact and introduce your young one to a new language as early as possible. They won't become fluent in a week (unless they're some incredible prodigy), but you will still hear them talking and even conversing in their new language sooner than you think.
Teach It Casually
Even though children absorb information easily, they're still children. Don't overload them with difficult classes and overwhelming language drills, lest you lose their interest completely.
Instead, take it easy on them. Teach them through fun, casual means. Watch TV and movies with them that feature simple forms of their new language. Arrange playdates with bilingual kids in the neighborhood. Make this new language seem like another fun part of life, and soon enough it will become a complete part of their life.
One Word At A Time
Photo Credit: Nickelodeon
If you wanted to learn how to play guitar, you wouldn't attempt a blistering, lightning-fast solo in your first lesson, would you?
On the same token, why would you have your children learn a new language by feeding them complicated paragraphs and rapid-fire dialogue from the start?
Instead, take it a word of the time. Perhaps the best way to do this is the Dora the Explorer approach: say the word in your native language, followed immediately by the same word in the new language. For example, if you're teaching your child Spanish, you might say "this is a cat. Un gato."
In due time, your child will absorb all these single words and be able to move on to hearing complete sentences in both the new language and their first one. Then paragraphs, then pages, and then whole conversations!
And it all starts with one word at a time.
Each Adult Uses Their Own Language
If a child hears a single language all the time, it will not help them become bilingual anytime soon. They need to hear both languages, in order to identify the patterns and similarities between the two.
So if your household contains two adults and at least one of them is bilingual, you should employ the "one adult, one language" approach. Quite simply, one adult speaks one language and the other adult speaks the second one.
This way, the child gets exposed to both languages on a regular basis. Whether one adult is repeating what the other one is saying in a different language, or both adults simply carry on in their native language, the child's sponge-like brain will soak up both dialects far more rapidly than if they only heard one tongue.
Use A Jarvisen To Teach Through Translation
If you have a smart language translator device like Jarvisen, you've got an amazing way to teach your child a new language right in your pocket!
Jarvisen offers accurate translations of 60 languages, many of which are among the most popular languages in the world.
Simply by speaking into the device, your child will hear your words in a whole other language. This will help them understand the similarities between the words, and then later on sentences and phrases and finally entire conversations.
The Bottom Line
If you have a young child, the time is now to teach them a new language. There are so many great and easy ways to do this, so you're virtually guaranteed to produce a bilingual kid. And who knows? This approach may beget a future polyglot!