The percent of children who speak a language other than English at home has risen from 10% to 21% in the past three decades, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The amount of bilingual kids is on the rise and, while it’s actually been proven that older children may have an advantage when learning a second language, it never hurts to begin early. Starting off with more than one language as a baby will not slow progress of language in any way and will only advance memorization and problem solving skills. Here are some helpful tips for raising bilingual children:
Learn with them.
If you don’t already speak the second language you’re introducing to your child, this is your opportunity to learn too. They better you understand what you expect your little one to learn, the more thorough job you can do teaching them.
Don’t feel like you need to be a pro and start speaking half in English and half in the chosen language. Start by throwing in a couple bedtime books in Spanish. Or sing simple, children’s French songs in the car. Adding small splashes of the secondary language will help teach your toddler basic vocabulary and concepts, the first start to raising a bilingual child.
Hire bilingual help.
Need a babysitter or nanny? Consider hiring one who speaks a second language and request that they communicate with your kids using that language at least 50% of the time. This is a great approach because it incorporates handy, everyday activities with the new vocabulary, making it easier to learn the familiar actions.
Take a vacation.
If affordable, travel to a country that speaks the language your child is learning. This is an especially great option as children get older and learn social skills. It will give them the opportunity to use their new language while making new friends.
-Lowry, Lauren. “Bilingualism in Young Children: Separating Fact from Fiction.” The Hanen Center.
-“Raising bilingual kids: benefits and techniques.” PHD in Parenting.
-“ Fast Facts: English Language Learners.” National Center for Education Statistics.
-Paturel, Amy. “A Guide to Raising Bilingual Children.” Parenting.com
-Photo courtesy of Phaitoon/freedigitalphotos.net