Five years ago, my daughter came into this world, and since then, my partner and I have been nurturing her ability to be multilingual. My spouse hails from Italy, and I originate from America. He has a grasp of some English, while Italian is my proficient second language. We reside in Italy and communicate using both Italian and English at home. As a result of being encompassed by two languages, our daughter now comprehends and communicates effectively in both.
Regardless of whether your household holds a bilingual environment, studies have illustrated numerous benefits reaped from acquiring proficiency in a secondary language. It can amplify academic achievement, enhance concentration, fortify memory and communication capabilities, nurture empathy, and ignite creativity. Families may also desire to establish connections with their heritage and engage in conversations with relatives who converse in that specific language. Here are eight recommendations to contemplate if you aspire for your offspring to master a second language based on my upbringing of a bilingual offspring.
Guidance on Empowering Your Offspring to Master a Second Language
1. Initiate at the Earliest Opportunity
Commence the process of instructing your child in another language as soon as feasible. Children are akin to sponges and will find it easier to assimilate a new language at a tender age. While it is plausible to commence at any juncture, commencing earlier is preferable.
2. Engage with Speakers of the Targeted Language
If you have the advantage of acquaintances or relatives who are already fluent in the language you aspire for your child to learn, ensure that you partake in gatherings with them. Request that they solely converse in that language during these interactions. It has been substantiated that individuals who undergo immersive language learning experiences, irrespective of whether in an educational institution or during a study abroad initiative, exhibit higher levels of fluency.
3. Peruse Books and View Films in the Language
Thankfully, streaming platforms such as Netflix and Prime proffer multimedia content in multiple languages. Utilize this to your advantage! Engage in movies and shows that your children are already familiar with, as this will facilitate initial comprehension. Acclimating to the language audibly will also aid your child in gaining proficiency in correct pronunciation.
Procure bilingual literature as well. Reading will also support your child in visualizing the words and potentially commencing to transcribe in the new language.
4. Host a Dance Soiree with Music in that Language
Curate a Spotify or YouTube playlist containing music in the particular language. Simply having the music playing in the background during bath time or playtime serves as an exposure method for your child.
5. Employ Language Learning Applications
For older children, adopting a language learning app can be an entertaining approach to mastering a second language. Presently, numerous options abound, contingent on the child’s age. Many of these apps render the process of learning a second language delightful and interactive. As the activities are enjoyable, children are more engrossed in the notion of playing a game, thereby less likely to view it as “learning.”
6. Make the Language Apparent
When children can physically perceive something and create a mental image, it can simplify matters. Bolster their learning through the formulation or acquisition of flashcards for practice. If your child can sight a picture of an elephant and comprehend its spelling in the language you are instructing them, it furnishes a visual aid and can prove beneficial in retaining the secondary language.
7. Demonstrate Patience
Mastering a secondary language entails extensive effort. In truth, mastering a primary language is no small feat. Exercise patience and solace. Refrain from transforming teaching into a stress-inducing endeavor for both you and your child. Indeed, learning a new language is a valuable asset, but bear in mind that it necessitates time.
8. Offer Encouragement
Upon witnessing your child commence grasping the secondary language, ensure to convey accolades and offer encouragement. Keep in mind that this is no easy feat, and by validating your child’s progress and conveying encouragement, you aid them in recognizing the fruits of their labor.