Numerous studies have found that it's easier for children to learn a second language than for them to wait until adulthood to do so. Kids' brains function differently than those of adults, so they are simply better able to absorb different aspects of language learning. Their minds are truly like little sponges!
Knowing this, many parents' logical next question is: At what age should I teach my child to be multilingual?
In multilingual households, babies are exposed to different languages starting the day they are born. As children grow, so do the opportunities to learn. Language Stars classes begin when tots are age 12 months or older, helping them to gain foreign language skills simultaneously as they naturally learn the English language at this age.
Toddlers' natural curiosity makes language learning a truly magical experience. Patient parents who go slow and focus on the fundamentals will be rewarded with accelerated early childhood development. To support your child's progression toward becoming multilingual, try these 10 language activities for toddlers at home:
- Find bilingual books in English and your language of choice. Choose board books with large print that are engaging to little ones. Rhyming elements always make reading fun.
- Use nature walks to talk about simple vocabulary words. As you walk by a flower or spot an animal, say the words in the foreign language and ask your toddler to repeat.
- Make simple crafts that support language learning. Draw each vocabulary word, or, select a craft that ties to a cultural holiday or tradition.
- Watch short music videos in other languages or download audio tracks of world language songs. Add movement to the song to engage your toddler and keep him or her interested in learning more. They'll likely beg you to repeat the song and moves!
- Toddlers adore puppets, so it's a great way to maintain their attention. Get a set of finger puppets and use them to illustrate verbs or help describe stories you are reading.
- Make a sensory table to help support language lessons. For example, if you're studying the kitchen, fill your table with dried corn kernels, spoons, cups and bowls. Label each item in both languages.
- Kids love to listen to stories, and if you want to change up your story time, check out audiobooks from your local library. These are particularly great for reading dramatic tales because they capture the attention.
- Hands-on activities always win at this age. Clay can be a great language-learning tool when used to model words you're studying or for making visual connections to stories you're reading.
- Create an environment in your home supportive of language learning. Label objects in different rooms; for example, the sink, toilet, soap dispenser and mirror in the bathroom.
- When reading a cultural tale or foreign language book, ask your toddler questions throughout. What do they think will happen next? Why do the characters feel that way? How would they end the story?
Teaching toddlers a second language is a journey. You're giving them the foundation on which to build their knowledge and their natural curiosity will keep them engaged. By combining these types of activities at home with play-based foreign language classes such as Language Stars, you'll be surprised just how far your little one will go!