As parents, we want the best for our children. Regardless of heritage, race or socioeconomic backgrounds, from the moment our kids are born, we strive to provide them with the very best that we can afford from car seats to high chairs to luxuriously soft baby clothing. But one of the best gifts we can give our children is one that will last a lifetime – the gift of language. Speaking two or more languages is an invaluable skill that will not only enhance academic achievement and cognitive development but will increase social abilities. And best of all, it is something we can give our children right from the start.
While learning another language may seem daunting to many of our generation whose first exposure to language was in high school, for children it’s completely natural and easy! Learning in early childhood is ideal because children’s brains soak up language as they learn through play, and their brains form special neural pathways that become hard-wired with repeated exposure to language. Unlike any other skill, language can be learned from the moment a child arrives in the world. It does require commitment and consistency, but the effort required is no different than teaching our children manners, the alphabet, counting, etc.
Bilinguals experience a host of benefits such as better executive functioning, better scoring on standardized test such as SATs and a world of opportunities both socially and career-wise when they ultimately enter the job market. The United States today is a beautiful society of blended language and culture and will continue to have an impact on the traditional American way of life. The sooner our children are exposed to a second language, the better off they will be as they go on to navigate different communities where language and culture is different than their own.
Tips for Teaching Your Child a Foreign Language:
- For best results, choose a language to which your child will be most consistently exposed.
- Create a language group with a native speaking instructor. It is fun for the kids and makes language learning affordable.
- Find language classes in your local library, community.
- Interactive language Apps and programs provide a wonderful opportunity for exposure to another language.
- Play music so that your child hears the words and sounds in his or her everyday environment.
- Find community members who speak the language.
- Travel so your child can see an immediate benefit of being bilingual.
- When you go to the market, have your child say the names of foods in the language.
- Find cartoons or movies in the language.
- Make it fun – create a game where your child names as many different items in the house in the language.
Early Lingo is the foreign language learning system for children. Be sure to check out all of the new Language Learning Apps and join the summer language challenge at www.earlylingo.com.