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.
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!