10 Ways To Introduce a Second Language To Your Child.

Giving your child the advantage of foreign language exposure can help them connect with the world, and succeed later in life. According to the World Economic Forum and Education First, children who are exposed to other languages may be more empathetic and bilingual children have favorable salaries as adults. Any language exposure is good, even if you as a parent do not speak a second language, you can help your child by exposing them to the basics of another language. Parents who are multilingual can help ensure their child’s fluency in multiple languages by making sure their child gets equal exposure to all the languages they know and plenty of practice.

Read “Journey” by Jiajia Sun available on Caribu app.

1. Media

Parents can encourage their kids to watch kids shows that are in other languages, or multiple languages to ensure their kids consume educational media. A children’s show or movie in another language is great exposure for kids. They get the chance to learn new words, and can be exposed to new cultures. Letting kids explore other cultures can encourage developing language skills, and cultural awareness. Your child might be inspired to try new foods, or say hello in another language or learn a game that is traditionally played in another country. Broadening a child’s language resource gives them unlimited access to the world.

2. Travel

Traveling to another country is a great chance for kids to practice a new language. It is also a fun way to teach your kids about other cultures. Traveling abroad may be out of budget for a lot of families but that’s not a problem. Look at your own community and connect your children to the world outside the walls of your home. Find a festival celebrating another culture, eat in a restaurant that serves traditional food, or find museums that showcase cultures around the world. Whether you take a plane across the globe or just drive to another part of your town you can turn a fun adventure into a learning opportunity that has a lasting impact.

3. Narrate

As you do activities with your child narrate your tasks in a second language. Cooking or completing chores lend themselves to this tactic well as you can describe what you are doing as you do it. Physical movement can help embed language in memory.

4. Sing

Listening to music with lyrics in another language is a fun way to learn. It challenges kids, and connects words with feelings. Music is a fantastic way encourage kids and can be a helpful tool for memorization.

5. Use big gestures

Hand gestures and other nonverbal cues including facial expressions can help children understand language. Children can associate words with feelings and situations based on your expressions. When going over words in a new language be mindful of your gestures.

6. Teach through demanding activities rather than passive ones.

Avoid the plague of flashcards. While flashcards can be useful when first learning terms and for matching games, using them to learn is monotonous. Use action based teaching to instill a sense of use for a new language. Games and sports are great for this, find a version of your kids favorite board game in another language or make up a new game together. For kids who love being active go over terms for body movement and direction, and try to talk each other through a homemade obstacle course.

7. Have your child spend time with a friend or relative who is a native speaker

Language acquisition is based on social cues. Learning from a real person can be more engaging for babies, and toddlers. Spending time with native speakers offers kids a chance to learn colloquial speech rather than the formal speech they might be taught in other venues.

8. Find community programs, after school groups, and extracurricular activities taught in other languages.

Kids can connect with their peers after school or on weekends and learn the basics of languages that are not offered in school or spoken at home. This can range from one-on-one sessions with a private tutor, to after school clubs centered around another culture, to dance lessons or sports that are taught partially or completely in another language.

9. Learn a language together.

Learning a new language is a daunting challenge, but it is one small thing you can do for your child that has real life practical applications for yourself. This is a time consuming challenge, but it offers the benefit of time spent bonding with your child, and will give you insight to their learning style. Even minor exposure, reading children’s books that are printed in multiple languages, watching a show in another language with your child, or listening to music in another language, can help establish a foundation of knowledge for you and your child to draw from whenever necessary whether its their high school Spanish class or your family vacation.

10. Use Caribu

Picture books make it easy to understand new or unfamiliar words, the same concept applies to learning another language. Caribu offers over 200 books, in 6 languages including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, and Spanish. Our Books are filled with pictures and many are multilingual, with English and other languages printed on the same page. Our library is even expanding to add Portuguese later this year. Caribu makes it easy to teach your kids and spend time together wherever you are.

If you are on an iOS enabled device you can download Caribu here!

If you are not you can learn more about Caribu here!

Written by Rachel Gambach Intern @Caribu, editor & contributor for Caribu’s blog and student at UCF.

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