As the world becomes more diverse and globalized, the ability to speak a second language is a highly valued skill that offers many economic, social, and intellectual benefits. This is why many of us want to teach our kids another language from a very young age.
Children who know or study at least one foreign language are more open-minded, have flexible thinking, and will find it easier to learn a new language in the future. Also, they are more focused, creative, or have increased distributive attention and better critical thinking skills.
“Young children become confused if they hear more languages around them” is one of the most common myths when it comes to learning languages. Children can tell the difference between the languages they hear. From the age of 4-5, they begin to develop a level of metalinguistic awareness, which means that they are aware of the foreign languages learned and can reflect on how to use them.
Here are 5 ways you can teach your child a second language:
- Learning through play
Learning through play is a proven method for learning a foreign language. Find online games or applications, such as interactive puzzles. Your little one can learn the colors, animals, or count in different languages.
- Children’s TV shows
Choose your favorite platform to watch movies and pick with your child a new show to watch, dubbed in the language you want to learn. If you have the option, add subtitles in that language. The process is much more efficient if your little one sees transcriptions of what they hear.
- Conversations with other people
You can find an online mentor whose native language is the language your child studies. Set up sessions so that your child can practice talking in the new language. A face-to-face/online 30 minute conversation, once per week helps them make significant progress.
- Sing and dance
Listen to music, dance, and sing songs in the new language. Because children love music, this is a great way to help them remember new words quickly.
- Learn through exciting activities
If you want to teach your little one new words related to nature, dress them in comfortable kids’ clothes, go outside and start exploring together! How about learning new words about the weather? Try a scientific experiment and make a rainbow.
Don’t worry if your little one starts to mix up the languages. It’s normal for them to do so. Once your child realizes they are doing this, things will clear up and they will begin to separate them.
Children are most likely to learn a new language when interacting with things they are attracted to. Therefore, pay attention to their interests, incorporate them into activities, and make everything more engaging and fun.
Although there are no universal rules to follow if you want to teach your child a foreign language, the most important thing you need to do as a parent is to offer your support, love, and understanding.