Natural language learning: simple ways to help your child become bilingual

17 Mar

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Not many parents out there would be against their child Growing up bilingual. Did you know that the best time to learn another language is alongside the first language and that the brain at the age of <18 months is perfectly capable of processing more than one language without confusion?

What a great talent to add to your child’s repertoire with many bonuses such as  making them more culturally sociable both at home and abroad and making them more attractive in the work place later on in life. Furthermore, studies have now shown that bilingual children have increased attention and cognition abilities.

(http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/radical-teaching/201211/bilingual-brains-smarter-faster)

Children and adults alike ideally need immersion in the language for more than just a few hours every week in order to become fluent and competent in their speaking abilities.

Here are some simple tips which you can integrate into everyday life to help your child pick up another language without having to move away to a whole different country:

  • If you intend on sending your child to an educational establishment or childcare facility, look for the ones which provide more than just one or two language sessions per week and last less than a few hours in total. In many places more and more opportunities are popping up to gain greater immersion. Where I live in East Sussex there is now a bilingual spanish and english playgroup for toddlers, a bilingual nursery and even a bilingual government-run school. In these establishments at least half the curriculum/activities of the day are conducted in the foreign language. bilingual school
  • If you choose to home educate your child you can always hire some home help in the form of a native speaking cleaner or nanny to increase your child’s exposure to the language and ask that they only speak with the child in their language. If living on a tight budget remember that once your child turns 3 years old you can use child care vouchers to pay ofsted registered child care and some childminders will come and work from your home.
  • If your child likes screen time, pick the foreign language option on dvds, type in your child’s favourite programmes in to youtube alongside the name of the language in it’s mother tongue e.g. ‘Mickey Mouse francais’. This is how many European kids end up becoming so proficient in English.youtubeicon
  • Make friends with people who live near you and are native speaking so you can provide play date opportunities for the kids to hear both languages simultaneously.

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  • Play music in your chosen language, dance and sing. Songs are often the most affective way to learn and store new information in the brain.

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  • Buy or loan from your local library some dual language reading books to get them use to seeing the language as well as speaking and hearing it at the same time. Popular titles such as “Walking in the jungle” come in many dual language options.

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  • Finally, learn the language alongside your child so you are able to recognise and reinforce just as you do with teaching them English. You do not have to be fluent to do this with a young child. Connect to the internet to start learning the basics for free today http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/
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One Response to “Natural language learning: simple ways to help your child become bilingual”

  1. Buhobooks Editor April 12, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    Reblogged this on Buhobooks Bilingual and commented:
    A very useful and interesting post. Give´s many tips on how to help you kids learn another language from an early age.

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