Teaching your child a second language can open up many doors in their careers. In fact, studies show that bilingual children perform better on standardized tests than non-bilingual children. But if you’re not bilingual, can you still raise a bilingual child? Yes! Here’s how.
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How Non-Bilingual Parents Can Raise Bilingual Children
Even parents that don’t speak a second language can introduce one to their children. While it won’t be easy, parents can use the following methods to teach their child a new language.
1. Introduce Languages Early
While it’s never too late to teach your child a new language, the later you leave it, the more difficult it can become. If you’re not familiar with the language, you can use online platforms like Lingoda to learn the Spanish words for dates, months, and more quickly and easily.
2. Start With Online Classes
Depending on your circumstances, an online language learning class can be the most accessible option. For example, an online Spanish course can connect your child to native Spanish speakers to teach concepts such as months, dates, numbers, and more.
3. Join Foreign Language Groups
If exposure is your main priority, take your child to social groups with people who speak the target language. To find these groups, search on social media platforms and language immersion sites for information about parent groups where children can play together.
4. Hire a Bilingual Babysitter or Nanny
Young children may not pick up language vocabulary from formal language lessons, but they can pick up casual conversations like a sponge. Since children often learn better through play, hiring a bilingual babysitter or nanny can encourage them to adopt a foreign language.
5. Host an Au pair for a Summer
An Au pair is a young student that travels overseas on an exchange. They stay with host families and agree to look after their children. For this service, the host family provides them with accommodation and money. An Au pair can also teach your child a foreign language.
6. Consider a Bilingual Education
If you live in a country with bilingual schools and you can afford to take your child to a private institution, they’re one of the best options for language learning. Since your children will be exposed to the language daily, they’ll pick it up much faster than other methods.
7. Join a Homeschool Co-Op
Parents that live in an active homeschool community can take their children to a homeschool co-op. A homeschool co-op is a group of homeschool families participating in cooperative learning. While schedules may vary, they’re a great flexible option for children and parents.
8. Try a Language Immersion Camp
When your children are a little older, consider taking them to a language immersion camp. These camps, which typically take place over the summer, can introduce children to a new language over a period of weeks or months—most camps pop up in foreign countries.
9. Go to the Library
As American culture has become more diverse, so has the library. There are many multilingual offerings, from books that focus on the alphabet to foreign fairy tales like Cinderella and the Grimm Brothers. Stick to books and stories your children would be familiar with.
10. Play Videos and Music
Language is all around us, but we tend to tone it out. If your house keeps the television on, switch it to translated episodes of popular shows, like Peppa Pig or Puppy Dog Pals. If you love to listen to music, put on a foreign version of Itsy Bitsy Spider or other nursery rhymes.
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