One of the easiest ways you can help your child get ahead in life is by introducing him or her to both a home language and English. Young brains are primed and wired to pick up languages, especially during their earliest years, and the benefits will pay off for the rest of their lives. Now is a great time to talk, read, and sing to your child in multiple languages!
Not sure if introducing a second language is right for your family? Here are two scenarios that might sound familiar to you:
“I’m not fluent in my second language. I’m worried that I won’t pronounce words correctly when teaching my child.”
The truth is, the language parents speak to their children doesn’t have to be perfect or grammatically correct. The most important thing is to introduce them to it.
“I don’t want to confuse my child with multiple languages and slow down vocabulary development.”
Studies show that children are born with the ability to identify sounds from every language, and as they grow, their skills narrow to focus on the language(s) they hear most often. Learning more than one language at the same time is not confusing to young children. Rather, it helps them develop multiple, but inter-related, language systems, and increased cognitive functions. Dual language learners tend to demonstrate greater working memory, reasoning, flexibility, and problem solving. Switching between languages also gives them an increased ability to monitor their environment more efficiently. Knowing more than one language also can expand their career opportunities, keep them mentally sharp in their twilight years, and help them gain an appreciation for the culture and roots of their families.