Fostering bilingualism in your child at a young age comes with a host of benefits. Aside from giving your little one an academic edge over their peers, immersing in bilingual education also increases their awareness and understanding of other cultures.
As a parent, you’d want to play an active role in your child’s linguistic education and ensure that they start learning a second language early on. This is because children’s language acquisition skills peak around the 1st grade age when their brains are still developing. Their level of perception and curiosity helps them to pick up a new language quickly.
With that, it’s best to practice speaking with your child at home and kickstart their bilingual journey. But if you have little knowledge of the second language, you might find it tough to engage your child. Here’s how you can play a part and boost your little one’s bilingual education.
What’s the secret to engaging your child in the second language?
Parents do play an active in their child’s language learning. In fact, children learn by observing their parents’ behaviour and attitude. As such, you’re a role model for your little one! Just by showing your fascination in picking up a foreign language, your behaviour will rub off on your child and influence them to do the same.
But how do you sustain your child’s motivation in learning a foreign language? As a family, you can engage in fun activities together to spark curiosity in your child. Weave the art of second language learning into your daily routines to help your child learn the language naturally. Let’s take a look at a couple of ways that make language learning a family activity!
How can you make language learning a family activity?
1. Include the second language in reading habits
Cultivating the habit of reading is one of the most important skills parents can impart to their children. Not only will reading boost your child’s memory, but it also improves their writing and communication capabilities! You can read and share stories with your child to familiarise them with vocabulary and develop their early literacy skills. This will equip your child with the competency to learn new concepts swiftly.
As you are honing your child into an avid reader, consider including a translated version of your child’s favourite books – written in the second language that they are learning! Afterwards, ask your child about the differences between the original and translated copy. This encourages them to think critically whilst picking up both languages. Through reading the books regularly and independently, your child will be constantly exposed to the second language; their writing and reading proficiency is sure to improve significantly.
2. Expose the family to music in the second language
When placed in a lyrical form, any language becomes more accessible! For your child to memorise unfamiliar terms of a new language, you can expose the family to music in the second language. This will help your child to retain words and expressions more effectively. Choose songs that you and your child enjoy and compile them into a playlist that can be played in the car or at home.
By playing songs in the second language, the rhythm of the music and repetitive patterns within each piece will aid your little one in memorising new words. While they might struggle with vocabulary initially, music is sure to make the process more enjoyable!
Over time, your child will also learn to mimic the words in familiar songs. As the songs are played repeatedly, they will start to practice sounds in the second language. Eventually, the sounds give way to understanding, and your child will appreciate the foreign language better.
3. Ask your child to be your teacher
Soon enough, you’ll find that your child is progressing well in learning a second language. In the process, you may be concerned about not keeping up with your child’s new language development – but don’t feel too discouraged because you can flip this into another learning opportunity for them!
At times, you might get confused when your child code switches (alternates between the two languages). Yet, it is a reassurance that your child has a solid grasp of both languages. Additionally, you can restructure your study sessions: ask your child with to guide you in learning the new language. By sharing what they have learned with you, your child can reinforce their knowledge and have a deeper understanding of key concepts. It will also allow them to take ownership of their learning.
If you’re looking to immerse your child in a rich bilingual education, check out the bilingual programmes offered across international schools in Singapore! And when picking the right school for your child, ensure that the bilingual model offered matches your child’s learning abilities. You’d want to ensure that language learning doesn’t just stop in the classroom, but continues to support your child’s holistic growth and development.