Guest post by writer Emily Jones
Raising bilingual children is not an easy task, but it is something absolutely worth investing the time and effort in. With 2 bilingual and multicultural kids, there are certainly a few things I learned along the way to do and started incorporating early on with my kids to support them in their language learning processes.
Learning a language is a skill after all, and it is one that takes dedication and practice. Any way that you can help your child practice, even without them knowing that they are actually practicing their language skills, will go a long way.
Here are some simple everyday activities that go a long way in boosting your child’s bilingual skills:
Reading to and with your child is important for every parent, even more so for parents who are raising bilingual children. Day to day life often exposes kids to a certain type of vocabulary, so reading in their minority language can help them expand their vocabulary, practice sounding out words and with some support, help with pronunciation. They might not understand every word at first, but they will learn as they go! Keep in mind what your kids are interested in and you can select books that will be both interesting and educational for them.
Watch a movie
Watching a movie is a way for your child to learn a language without realizing they are learning. On many streaming platforms like uk.chili.com for example, movies are always available in different languages. So for example, you could choose to watch the same movie in your child’s two primary languages. This is a great way for your kid to see and learn how different words and expressions can be used to express ultimately the same idea or concept.
Recite riddles and sing songs
Riddles and songs are fun ways for your kids to learn new words and memorize some great tunes, ones that will probably stick with them for many years. For most kids, it is a lot more fun to be silly and play around as you sing along to a song or recite a fun riddle rather than being focused on standard speaking language.
Name objects while doing chores
Naming objects while doing things around the house gives kids the opportunity to practice with words and objects that they are already familiar with. The more they practice and associate certain things with their proper names, the more second nature it will become. You can point objects out and name them out loud and even use sticky notes around the house to label objects and keep that reminder there.
Play games to learn numbers
When you play games in other languages, kids can learn numbers, colours, animals, etc. in a playful and stress-free way. You can still play your kid’s favourite games, but switch it up and play it in their minority language.
Remember to do these kinds of things with your child starting at the youngest age possible so it becomes a routine. The earlier your child starts hearing and learning two languages, the more natural it will be for them to think and speak in two different languages later on. It is, after all, much more difficult to incorporate a second language and way of thinking at an older age after your brain has already been functioning in a certain way for so many years!
**Written in collaboration with Emily Jones.**