The more languages you know, the more opportunities you have in life. Understandably, parents want their kids to be more successful and knowledgeable, which is often followed by their desire to introduce their kids to a second language. However, it’s not always easy to decide when to do that. In case you’re wondering what the best course of action for your child is when it comes to learning a foreign language, keep on reading.
Bilingual vs. fluent speakers
There’s a difference between being bilingual and being fluent in a foreign language. When a child is bilingual, it means that they recognize both languages as their mother tongues. They switch between the languages with ease and sound native. On the other hand, being fluent means that the child had to learn the language step by step once the acquisition period has passed. They can learn to speak native-like, but the possibility of an accent or more difficult sentence constructions is very possible.
So, if you wish your child to be bilingual, you should place them in surroundings where the foreign language is spoken together with their native one. Spending time near a native speaker of the foreign language can help tremendously, especially during the language acquisition period.
So, when to start learning?
It’s difficult to say when exactly the best time to have your child start learning a foreign language is. However, the fact of the matter is that children find it easier to learn, remember and acquire knowledge when they’re young. As their minds are like sponges, young kids manage to learn with ease without putting too much effort into the process itself. That said, kids can start learning a foreign language and result in success from their toddler to teen years, but starting as early as possible is always ideal.
Finding the best teacher
As mentioned, it’s not the same to learn a language as a bilingual or fluent speaker. If you’re lucky and have someone in your family who speaks a foreign language, you should definitely utilize this opportunity. Essentially, have that person shift from one language to another so that the child can acquire both languages as a bilingual speaker. If this is not the case though, it’s important to find a good teacher. This is especially true if a global language such as English is not your native language. Luckily, you can easily find a reputable English learning centre these days that features programs specially adjusted to younger children.
You can help as well
Just like with any other learning process, parents can significantly affect the kids. Essentially, your support and encouragement can make a difference between the child’s desire to learn a foreign language or hating the thought completely. For starters, keep in mind that you should never push too hard or force your kid to learn. Instead, a fun and casual approach is the best. You can find music in the language they’re learning, organize games that will have them use the words they’ve learned and you can even play cartoons in a foreign language. These small incentives actually mean a lot for the way your kid will act and think about the language and the process of learning it.
If English is your native language but you want your kid to learn another foreign language as well, give them the right to choose which one. You can play them music or dialogues in a couple of different languages on YouTube so that they can decide for themselves which one they like. This approach will also motivate the kids to learn even more.