[Mamiverse’s Bilingual Plus is an online channel devoted to bringing parents and educators the bilingual learning tools they need in the form of digital picture books, sing-alongs, and free curriculum-based family activities.]
In our fast-paced world, where humankind around the globe is in closer contact than ever before, it has become clear to educators and parents that we must prepare new generations of children to be able to communicate and compete in the global village.
Bilingualism is one positive step in that regard. Knowledge of a second or third language helps individuals adapt to the diversity and plurality of culture around the world. Multi-lingualists are more likely to be understanding of other cultures’ customs, ways of speaking, different accents, eating habits and even body language as opposed to their monolingual peers. They seldom use language as a weapon against others.
Read Related: 7 Easy Tips for Teaching Your Child Spanish
Teachers and parents alike recognize that teaching children to be bilingual is an act of solidarity. So together, let us expose our children to another language and prepare them for survival in the multi-lingual, multicultural world in which they will come of age.
Here are five tips that will help make your child bilingual:
Make sure that your child is taught another language at school. Bear in mind that the “foreign” language is not just another subject in the school curriculum. It is a very important and essential subject and you, as a parent, should be in touch with your child’s language teacher so that she perceives your interest and the importance of the subject. And this goes for the “foreign” tongue as well as for the “native” tongue. English, in this case, is just as important: a basic tool of communication all children must master. There are no two ways about it.
Do not take language-learning lightly: It is a life-long learning endeavor and its acquisition never ends—language is constantly changing to adapt to new times and new societies and habits. In this evolving world, your child will be judged more on his speaking and writing abilities, than on the color of his skin or nationality background. Your effort as a promoter of your child’s language abilities is paramount in his preparation for life.
The technologies we have now allow us to read, watch TV, listen to the radio and attend lectures in diverse languages, any time of day or night, from the “comfort” of our homes. Take advantage of this opportunity. Tune in to, for example, Spanish-language programs. Expose your child to language as much as possible—even cartoons come in different language.
Enroll your child in a storytelling activity in Spanish or whatever language she is learning. Start one in her school if none is available near you. Children love stories acted out, in any language, and they will meet other children who are either bilingual or trying to be. This is a fun activity!
Get your child graded language books, the ones that come with a CD, so that he can read and listen at the same time. This is inexpensive and promotes a liking for reading, which is a sure way to improve vocabulary.
Children’s brains are like sponges, soaking up all knowledge they are exposed to at fantastic speeds and with great ease. It is a cinch for a child to learn a new language, but he or she needs parental support and encouragement in doing so.
Delfin Carbonell Basset is a graduate of Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh. He holds a Ph.D. in philology from Madrid and has authored 35 books in both English and Spanish, published by McGraw-Hill, Barron’s, Larousse, Anaya and Serbal. He has taught at Pitt, F&M, Scranton and Murray St. University.