Some parents want to raise their children to know how to fluently speak two languages. Some parents know that learning a second language comes with many benefits and that teaching a child a language is easier than teaching an adult. Other parents may be bilingual themselves, and they want their child to also be bilingual.
Some parents cringe at the idea of teaching their child a second language. They think it will be time consuming and difficult, and though they want their child to reap the benefits, they’re not sure how to go about it.
But teaching a child a second language is not as difficult as you might think, and the following tips will help.
When you start at a young age, children have a better chance of learning and understanding a new language. Children that are three years old are really starting to comprehend their language and understand patterns of speech. When you introduce a second language at this time, your child will be able to pick up the unique sounds of the other language. Plus, young children enjoy mimicking the sounds they hear on a daily basis, so starting now when they’re interested can make teaching them easier on you.
Make it casual.
Children don’t like to be forced to learn new things, so try to make their learning as casual as possible. Allow them to hear conversations between others using the language. Show them videos or have them listen to music to learn the sounds of the language.
When you’re talking with your child, use the second language to teach them the names of items. This way, they’ll think it’s normal, and they won’t think they’re being forced to learn the language.
If your child is learning how to read, you can invest in stories or worksheets that will teach them new words in the second language, or you can allow them to play apps on your smartphone or tablet, such as Spanish for Kids.
Try to teach one word at a time, and then move to a new word when your child shows that they understand it. Teach them that a certain object has two names: one in English and one in the second language. Once you notice your child understands that the object has two names, you can then add another object into the mix.
Your child is still a child, so you cannot expect them to speak the second language fluently when they can’t even speak their own language fluently. Understand that your child is going to pick up the second language as slowly as they pick up their first language. If you set unrealistic expectations, you’re going to get frustrated, and your child will not be interested in learning the second language.
Learning a second language is much easier for children than adults, so it’s a good idea to start at a young age if you want your child to be bilingual. When you make learning fun and casual and you set reasonable expectations, you will find teaching them a second language is no different than teaching them their first language. Just make sure to take your time and be patient with your child.
Lauren Williams writes interesting and educational language articles for Accent Pros. She recently wrote articles about about children, education, and learning a language.