The world is becoming increasingly smaller and knowing a second language is considered to be one of the basic tools required for succeeding in today’s intercultural environment. A lot of people are learning foreign languages for business or leisure travel but what about kids? How can we teach kids to be successfully multilingual?
More and more kids are growing up learning a second language and of course many are also raised in bilingual or multilingual homes. In today’s world, proficiency in more languages than one is certainly an asset for a kid’s future.
So how can we teach kids to be multilingual?
Here are some tips for helping your kids become as fluent in another language as they are in English.
Young kids are incredibly receptive to language learning. This makes the first 6 years of life an ideal window for them to start acquiring new languages since their brains are wired for this skill. It’s no secret that kids definitely have an easier time than adults learning new languages, so start them young!
Learning a second language also exposes kids’ brains to different cognitive processes, which can boost brain development and improve overall thinking skills.
Surround them with the language
To help kids learn a foreign language, it’s important to surround them with that language and create immersion opportunities. For example, when a toddler hears Spanish being spoken, they become familiar with the sound of the words and their pronunciation.
They may not understand what’s being said in the new language at first, but they can sense the rhythm and cadence of the language, which provides a strong foundation on which language acquisition can be built. So even exposing another language through songs or stories from when kids are babies is a great way to build familiarity of that language from day 1!
Listening to songs in Spanish as a second language, for example, is an easy way to become familiar with the sounds of the words and the structure of sentences. Movies & shows, in moderate age-appropriate amounts, are also a great way to introduce kids to another language.
Make the experience fun
Kids naturally want to play and communicate, so find ways to connect their interests with the language they’re learning. Moreover, you can also look for language immersion playgroups and playdates with other kids.
If your kid loves dinosaurs, start by teaching vocabulary that includes dinosaurs. You can do this through books, flash cards or good old-fashioned play.
Asking kids questions about what they like helps them get excited about learning and practice expressing themselves in a new language.
The most important thing is to be patient. Kids are naturally curious and will enjoy the challenge of language learning. So don’t force them to learn a language if they have no interest in it. This may cause frustration or, even worse, embarrassment to the kid.
They’ll likely do better if they proceed at their own pace and you try to reinforce what they teach themselves rather than teaching them specific vocabulary words or phrases. Focus on interesting and engaging projects that encourage communication between you and your kids.
And when we say it’s never too early to start, we mean it. In many ways, starting a second or third language at an early age means that your kids will be able to learn these languages more easily.
And while it can be helpful to wait until they are old enough to actively engage in the learning process themselves, it is never too late to make a difference. So how can we help our kids learn another language?
There are language classes you can check out on ClassBubs and we’re always here if you’d like to reach out to us with any queries.
Lastly, like anything else in life, the more effort you put into helping your kid reach this new milestone of learning another language, the better their chances of success!