Raising a bilingual baby may seem daunting, but is easier than you think and has so many benefits. Bilingual children are better at complex problem solving and critical thinking. Later in life, bilinguals also have an edge in the job market for positions that demand bilingual and bicultural skill sets.
Continue reading below for our 6 top tips on how to teach your baby a second language.
1. START EARLY
The best time to introduce a foreign language is when your baby is learning to speak. Those that learn a language from a very young age are more likely to have larger vocabulary and a better grasp of the language.
2. EXPOSE YOUR CHILD TO BOTH LANGUAGES AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
You may prefer the one parent-one language method where one parent speaks to the baby in English and the other only speaks in the foreign language. You should talk to your baby as much as you can, describe what you are doing, objects and animals around them, sing songs. Give them praise when they try to copy your sounds.
3. NON-NATIVE CHILDCARE
If you need a babysitter or nanny, opt for a non-native English speaker who speaks the language you would like your child to learn. Even being exposed to the language at an early age can have lasting effects into adulthood. You may also consider joining a foreign language community group.
4. USE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES AND GAMES
There are plenty of interactive learning toys available and foreign language books that can be used to help your baby learn their second language. DVDs, TV shows, flashcards and even certain boardgames can be very useful and help make learning fun. Try searching for educational videos on YouTube, check out your local library, or search for resources and ideas online. These beautifully illustrated Bilingual Alphabet Posters from Then You Came Along are a great way to help your baby learn.
5. EXPOSE THEM TO THE CULTURE OF THE LANGUAGE
We learn languages quicker when we are exposed to the culture behind them. If you're teaching your child Italian, cook an Italian meal every week, make sure they listen to Italian music and watch Italian children’s shows. Teach them about Italian history when they are older.
6. ORGANISE BILINGUAL PLAY DATES
Try to organise playtime with other children who speak the same second language, to give your child a chance to speak in both languages. You can find these groups online (e.g. Facebook) or at your local foreign language institute.