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5 Myths About Raising A Bilingual Child

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Is my child too young to learn a second language?

Will a second language delay his English?

Could another language confuse her?

If you’ve ever asked any of these questions, take a minute to read 5 myths about raising a bilingual child on the Baby Center blog. It’s written by Roxana Soto, co-founder of SpanglishBaby, an online community for parents who are raising bilingual children.

I thought the post provided some good information about the benefits of teaching your child another language–and starting as early as possible.

The optimal time [to learn a new language], according to experts, seems to be from birth-to-3 years – exactly when a child is learning his first language, and his mind is still open and flexible.

My husband and I have been teaching the children Swahili and Spanish.  We have close friends that speak those languages and they are both frequently heard in our community.

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In fact, on any given day, it’s not uncommon to hear Spanish, Amharic, French, Yoruba or Ibo at the 7-11 or the grocery store. At the neighborhood elementary schools, most of the students hear or speak a language other than English at home.

So it almost feels like a necessity for our family to learn a second tongue, and not just to say hello to our neighbors. I believe that learning a second language other than English can broaden my children’s horizons and make them more aware of other cultures and diverse perspectives.

In fact, just being exposed to another language, even without becoming fluent, can enhance a child’s overall communication and perspective-taking skills, according to a study published in the July 2015 issue of Psychological Science.  And a  2012 New York Times article, republished recently, details several studies that showed bilingualism enhanced cognitive skills in babies and young children and showed promise in delaying dementia and Alzheimer’s in adults who speak more than one language.

Dig that! So are you teaching your child your native tongue? Or is your family exploring another language together? What tools are you using to learn the language and keep it fun and engaging for the little ones?

My favorite resources are on YouTube, particularly songs like this one in Swahili that teaches the alphabet and how to count.  Please share your multi-lingual experiences in the comments section.  I look forward to reading them.  Karibuni!

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5 thoughts on “5 Myths About Raising A Bilingual Child

  1. One thing I think a lot of people may not realize is the struggle of raising a bilingual child who doesn’t WANT to use one of the languages. My daughter, for about a year, refused to speak her fathers native language and would cry if we spoke it to her. I’m still not sure why, but it could have something to do with the cultural views on people who speak English and the people who speak Swahili here in Tanzania. I always tried to encourage her to appreciate Swahili, and eventually she has changed her view of it, but it was difficult for a while to motivate her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting. I read a bit abt that, there’s research abt why kids don’t won’t to speak the native tongue. Do u think ur daughter is really absorbing those cultural cues already? What do u think changed? Has it gotten better cus ur at a swahili Hall now?

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  2. Now that my 2 oldest children are in school I realize how important it is to use the second language (in our case Spanish) consistently at home and how important and crucial those first years are. Who cares if they are a little “behind ” other kids in English trust me they will learn English the older they get and the more immersed in the everyday language they get the harder it becomes. Currently teaching my 6 yr old how to read in Spanish. We use books, brochures, magazines,workbooks. I try to do a little bit each day after her regular homework. Little by little we are making progress!

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  3. Learning a second language was easiest when it was spoken conversationally. While books and classes were wonderful for basic sentence structure and grammar rules, they never got to the nuances found in a spoken tongue. Hope your children are enjoying their Swahili and Spanish lessons!

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