Have you heard about the great benefits of learning more than one language and you would like to know more about the subject? In this article, we will explain the advantages of raising bilingual children and some tips to achieve this goal.
Benefits of raising bilingual children
When children are in contact with two languages from an early age, they can optimize their executive functions. These help us paying attention to various sources of information simultaneously, making decisions, controlling our emotions and impulses, and avoiding distractions.
Furthermore, bilingual children tend to further develop their working memory. This is in charge of retaining, processing, and updating the information that we store in short periods of time and it is vital for solving problems.
On a cognitive level, by encouraging your little one to learn more than one language, you will boost their ability to differentiate sounds between languages, identify when the people around them use certain language, and even become interested in the gestures that people make when communicating.
On the other hand, bilingual children have a much broader vocabulary, they can improve their literacy skills, strengthen their problem-solving skills, and learn to listen and interact with other people.
Now, each child is different and learns in different ways. Therefore, in the next section, we will give you some tips to help your child learn two languages. Keep in mind that, just like any other skill or talent, bilingualism needs constant practice. The good news is that doing the following activities will not only be beneficial for your child’s development but will give you an opportunity to spend quality time together.
Tips on how to raise bilingual children
Reading is very beneficial for children. It helps them develop their language skills and expand their vocabulary. Therefore, you can try reading with your child in the two languages that you want them to learn.
If you want to know how to introduce books at each stage of your child’s life, these articles will be of great help:
- Reading with your baby: 0-11 months
- The best way to read with your 1-year-old
- The best way to read with your 2-year-old
Music can also be a great ally to incorporate a second language into your little one’s routine. By constantly listening to songs when they’re between 12 and 24 months, you will help them learn new words, assimilate sounds, and, over time, the meaning of terms.
Another idea you can try to encourage your little one to become bilingual is to watch children’s educational programs and videos in both languages. Choose some that talk about numbers, letters, colors, and other simple topics.
When your little one is older, you can also consider the option of enrolling them in an educational language program. There are many alternatives, from courses taught within schools to summer camps or private classes.
Finally, we recommend that you introduce the two languages into your baby’s life from the moment they are born and that you give them many opportunities to listen and practice both languages with the ideas that we mentioned.
Good! Now you know how to raise bilingual children and what benefits this can bring. We will now talk about some of the myths that exist around teaching children more than one language. This will make you feel more confident in this process.
Myths about raising bilingual children
You’ve probably heard some people say that teaching a child more than one language can confuse them and even delay their language development. However, you should know that this is not true! In fact, regardless of whether children speak one, two or more languages, they usually reach developmental milestones in a very similar time frame.
Another common myth is that only children who begin to learn a language from an early age are able to communicate optimally and fluently in it. It is important to emphasize that, although childhood is the ideal time to learn new languages due to children’s rapid cognitive development, they can learn another language when they’re older or even as adults!
You may also hear that if your little one doesn’t communicate equally, naturally, or spontaneously in two languages, then they can’t be considered bilingual. Without a doubt, this is another myth that you should not take into account. It’s normal for a child to have a dominant language and even this can change depending on the level of use they give to each language. As long as your little one uses both languages and practices them, they will maintain their communication skills in both.
In short, raising bilingual children can be very beneficial because it boosts their executive functions and cognitive development. Therefore, the ideal is that you try to constantly expose your child to both languages through books, music, and other activities.
Another point of consideration is that while your little one is learning, they may mix up the grammar rules of both languages; this is completely normal! Of course, try not to combine them voluntarily when you speak with your child. They may also use both languages in the same sentence or don’t speak much when they begin to interact with a new language. This is all part of the process and there is nothing to worry about. The most important thing is that you accompany your child while they learn and encourage them to practice.
Do you have any questions about raising bilingual children? Write to us in the comments section! We love hearing from you.