If your kids are learning a foreign language at a young age, congratulations! You've taken the first step in giving them an edge in life. Not only will your child speak multiple languages, but studies show bilingual children may reach developmental milestones faster and excel higher in other academic subjects when compared to their peers.
As a monolingual parent you can support your child's language development in many ways. Of course, if you speak the language being taught, it's much easier to support their education. However, even if you don't, you can take positive steps to help them succeed.
Here are five parenting tips to support your children as they learn a world language.
Attend local cultural events
You may not speak Spanish or German, but that doesn't mean you can't attend a local Día de los Muertos event or an Oktoberfest celebration as a family. Explore different cultures and stay curious as a group. What's more, invite people with other backgrounds to your home to discuss their culture and beliefs. This can be a wonderful way to strengthen communities while promoting diversity and acceptance.
Take interactive classes with native speakers
Just watching videos and hearing audio of different languages isn't enough for children to learn a foreign language. Your child may take a few classes at school, but consider signing them up for specialty after-school language classes that are deeply engaging. Language Stars classes, for example, include cultural teachings, fun activities and are taught by native-speaking teachers, which makes for a more immersive experience.
Take classes together
If you're curious about learning another language, why not take classes with your child? It's a wonderful way to bond while learning valuable new skills. Explore options available in your area, like Language Stars Parents and Tots classes. If none come up, consider educating yourself in your spare time via the numerous online learning programs for adults. Then simply practice together. You might be surprised how much your little one can teach you!
Use media in another language
Your kids probably love watching TV and playing on the tablet. Switch it up sometimes and put on their favorite shows or upload apps in another language. They'll still adore their favorite characters or games, but it's fun to see if they can follow along in a different language. Of course, the images provide plenty of clues, making this a fun way to get kids to practice their language skills.
Whether it's a birthday or a smaller daily celebration, take time to have fun with your kids. Sing songs in different languages, make authentic cuisine and play games associated with the language or culture that interests your young learner. Sing, dance and be merry! It's something kids will enjoy and likely always remember, plus they are practicing their language skills without even realizing it!
You don't have to be fluent in another language to help your child become multilingual. With these tips you'll create a supportive educational environment at home that allows your child to blossom.