Improved problem solving, memory, creativity and critical thinking. Better social and communication skills. An increased appreciation for other cultures. The ability to learn additional languages later in life.
You may be aware of these and many more benefits of being raised bilingually. You may have experienced these benefits firsthand because you are multilingual yourself; and now you want to make sure to pass on multilingualism to your child. Or maybe you are monolingual but are interested in exposing your child to a second language. But where do you even begin?
Here are some easy, fun and practical ways to incorporate a second language into your child’s day:
Music is a great way to expose your child to a second language. The best thing? They don’t even realize how much they are learning. Music teaches the melody of the foreign language as well as pronunciation and vocabulary. You can either let tunes play in the background while they are busy with other activities or you can have an all out dance party and sing along from the top of your lungs.
If you are the only one speaking the target language in your home, it can sometimes be difficult for your child to realize that the language does in fact exist outside of your family. Movies help kids understand that the language is spoken by other people; this may boost their excitement about learning it. If you do not speak the target language, movies are the perfect teacher. Most kids love watching the characters on the screen even if they may not understand what they are saying.
Love to read to your child or have an avid reader? Books are wonderful for visualizing another language and developing vocabulary. If you do not speak the target language have a native speaker record the story, then play it and read along.
4. Talk, Talk, Talk
For bilingual parents this is a no-brainer: Talk to your child. All day, every day. Talk through everything – what you are doing, where you are going, what you are seeing. You are your child’s most valuable resource.
5. Utilize Car Time
Car rides can get boring, especially for young kids. Why not expose them to the target language while you have their undivided attention? You could make use of the tools mentioned above – play music, give them a book to read, or an activity to do, pop in a movie – or you could play a game of “I Spy” going back and forth naming objects in the target language. Even if you don’t manage to incorporate the second language at any other time during the day – making a point of utilizing time spent in the car quickly turns ‘wasted time’ into ‘teaching time’. Think: trips to and from school, running errands, visiting relatives… It all adds up!
We cannot rave enough about the mom-invented portable activity table, ZoomKIT. ZoomKIT is designed to hold modular, swappable activity cases that can be filled with your favorite entertainment and educationally full kits. The ZoomKIT allows parents to keep moving (or driving!) while the kids’ physical and entertainment needs are being met at the highest level.
ZoomKIT was designed by a mom of three children, who was tired of having to reach down on the car floor to retrieve her children’s activities. She wanted an activity center for the car that was portable, and had interchangeable pieces that could easily be swapped, creating endless activity (or snacking!) possibilities for her kiddos, while on the go.
Current ZoomIN inserts include:
- ZoomSNACK – a bento-box styled lunch box with a removable, tethered “no-drop” spork, and hinged lid. Dishwasher and Microwave Safe. BPA and Pthalate free.
- ZoomART – Creative kit features illustrations and activities by artists. Used alone or inserted into our ZoomKIT travel table. ZoomART includes: a dry eraser easel, a reusable dry eraser activity book with mazes, dot-to-dots, and matching games, a coloring book and both dry eraser markers and crayons with easy to use holders. ZoomART kits are the perfect solution for keeping kids engaged, entertained and learning while on the go!
- ZoomIN fill it yourself boxes. These empty hinged lid “tupperware style” boxes are perfect for your little one to store their favorite toys and items to take along.
ZoomKIT is perfect for daily exposure of a second language for your child, and the ZoomIN insert filled to the brim with bilingual hands-on activities is sure to have your kid excited to practice their second language while riding in the car. The ZoomKIT also has a convenient waist strap that velcros securely behind their back, so you don’t have to worry about your small kid dropping the ZoomKIT on the floor, or it coming loose while they are riding.
Here are some of the language activity items that our Daily Kids loved inside their ZoomKIT insert:
- My First Spanish Wordbook
- English/Spanish Ring Flash Cards
- Basic Spanish Bingo Board Game
- Bilingual Bright Baby Colors Book
- The Complete Book of Starter Spanish Workbook for Preschoolers
EXPLORE AND CONNECT
6. Involve your Family
If you have family who speak the target language you are missing out on a huge opportunity for language learning if you don’t facilitate interaction between your child and your relatives. Let your child spend plenty of time with native speakers. Even if your family doesn’t live close – technology makes it so easy to communicate. Calling, video chatting, and even texting will further your child’s competence in the target language.
7. Join a Bilingual Playgroup
Another great way for your child to experience other people speaking the target language is to join a bilingual playgroup. The kids get to interact and learn from each other in a fun and pressure-free environment. If you live in an urban area, Meetup may be a great starting point. If you can’t find a group, why not start one yourself?
Adding a second language can seem like a daunting feat at first – but the key is to keep it fun and be consistent. Small adjustments over a period of time quickly add up and the pay off is tremendous.