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As a parent, your intuition is quite the best guide for your children. It worked when your child was only a baby, communicating with you through crying, and it works today, when your little one is growing up faster than you had ever imagined. Academics, physical activity, social skills – you ensure your child is up to speed on all of them. After all, you want him to grow up into a successful adult. But did you know that there is one skill that could multiply their chances of success – yes, multiply? Well, science has recently established something that is almost a sure shot way to ascertain your child’s success in life…
As your child grows out of babyhood, time will seem to fly faster than ever before. In a blink, it will be time for him to start preschool and then go to a big school, all on his own! At this time, according to science, you should take time out to teach your kids one important skill. Research has proved that this skill has immense impact on their overall development and helps them become more confident and self-assured. So what are we talking about?
Bilingual Language Development in Early Childhood will Make Your Kids Successful
There are many families who speak more than one language at home to converse with each other. Some parents worry about their child’s speech development and stick to just one language at home. However, here’s the fact: a child’s development is better when he grows in an environment where family members speak multiple languages as compared to a house where only one language is spoken! As kids are quick learners, it is not difficult for them to pick up a language. Learning two languages at once, especially in the early years, fosters healthy development in your child.
Yes, even if you are afraid that many languages can confuse the child and leave him wondering about which words to use at the right place, this “muddle” is actually healthy as long as you exert caution to teach them the proper usage of a tongue.
Not many years ago, it was thought that learning a second language interfered with academic and intellectual development in children. The understanding was that this interference confused them and made it difficult to focus on studies or regular activities. But this “interference” is what can make YOUR child successful.
Recent research has established without doubt that in kids who start learning another language, the brain starts working harder. Even when they are using only one language, both language systems are active in their mind. This creates situations of mental conflict and forces children to resolve it on their own as well! This means that the cognitive muscles in their brain get stronger – exactly what is needed for success!
WATCH: Communication Specialist Mia Nacamulli Explains Benefits of a Bilingual Brain
Benefits of Bilingualism
Learning a second language as a child has assured benefits, and as parents, you should learn about these. Not only will it help you understand how speaking two languages to a baby benefits the baby, it will also give you motivation to actively use this strategy. Here are some benefits of bilingualism.
1. Bilingual children have a strong and comprehensive vocabulary
When compared to one-language peers, bilingual children develop a stronger vocabulary and this helps them to excel academically, as well as socially. By learning two or more languages, the child gets to learn the use of the same word in two ways, which in turn adds to his overall vocabulary.
2. Bilingual children are better multi-taskers
What’s the word I need? Should I address someone in language A or B? Questions such as these are familiar to bilingual kids from an early age. This helps them become better at multi-tasking. They are able to switch between tasks faster than children who learn to speak only one language.
3. Bilingual children have better social skills
The best part is that bilingual kids not only develop sharper brains but are also likelier to have better social abilities – yet another prerequisite for success. But how is this possible? The explanation is quite simple: children in bilingual environments get routine practice in considering things from another’s perspective. In order to speak another language, they need to understand whom they are speaking to, the meaning and context, and also the times and places in which the different languages should be spoken. This helps them get tuned to social settings early in life.
4. Bilingual children are quicker problem solvers
The brain of a bilingual child gets wired to adapt to two language systems. Since their cognitive muscles get stronger, so does their problem solving ability. So, when such kids sit down to do mentally demanding tasks like make a time table for studies, solve a problem, or focus in class, these stronger muscles help them outshine the others!
5. Bilingual children are better at specific attention
It has been seen through various studies that bilingual children develop specific attention skills faster than children who learn just one language. This ‘selective attention’ gives bilingual children the ability to stay focused and easily ignore misleading information and other distractions. This is because children who use multiple languages in their early years learn to filter same words in different languages more easily and quickly.
Bilingualism – How to Raise a Bilingual Baby
The key to raising bilingual kids is creating a balance. It is important to equally practice both/all the different languages you want your child to pick up. Here are a few tips on how to teach your baby multiple languages. Here are a few tips you can follow to help your child in learning two languages at once.
1. Do not force/coax your child:
Don’t inundate your child with a new language and don’t pressure him into learning. Kids have a natural knack of picking up a new language and will be better at this if gently encouraged, not drilled.
2. Speak to your baby in the different languages:
One of the easiest tactics to follow is: if you and your husband have different native languages, you both should use your own native tongues in the home, and should speak to your baby in your native language respectively. The same hold true even for foreign languages.
3. Emphasise equally on all languages taught in school:
If your child is in school, chances are they will be taught a second language at school. Make sure you lay equal emphasis on practising all kinds of speaking, reading and writing exercises for both the languages, and your child will soon become fluent in both.
4. Use music, videos and books:
Music is thoroughly enjoyed by every child, and it is a fun and interactive way to help children remember things. Play music, dance or sing songs of the language you want the child to learn, more often. Picture books, DVDs and CDs are also a good medium to expose your kid to your native language.
5. Use the regular tactics of teaching your child how to speak:
Spend quality time with your child by talking only in the native language. Make the interactions more entertaining by reading stories to him in the same language. In fact, while learning to read one language, the child also develops the ability to catch the other language sooner. This extends to the use of even more than two languages.
6. Don’t be deterred by ‘language switching’:
The child might at times get confused and use the word of one language in another, but this ‘language switching’ will gradually disappear over the years. By the age of five, the child will be able to use the correct words of different languages without getting confused.
7. Encourage story-telling:
Children love stories. So use bed-time to practise language! Encourage your child to participate in story telling by asking him to fill the words in between. Tell him stories in different languages.
8. Make sure your child follows a healthy diet:
This may come as a surprise to a lot of parents, but your child’s diet has a close relation to their speech development. Like did you know casein is bad for speech development? Yes! Food allergies and consumption of gluten is also closely linked to speech development. Make sure you provide your child with healthy home cooked food.
Bilingualism has tremendous positive impact on the child’s early development. The use of multiple languages in the transformative years gives them confidence, which helps them to excel in academic results and also exposes them to diversified career opportunities. So, go ahead and give your kids early training in another language. You will be carving for them a sureshot path to success!