The advantages of raising a bilingual child are many.  For one, your child avoids the difficult task of learning a second language later in life.  Young children are especially sensitive to languages and pick them up quickly.  So, if at all possible, raising a child bilingual from the beginning means the child will pick up the language completely, in a seemingly effortless fashion.  

In households where only one language is spoken as the native language, raising a bilingual child can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.  While it’s best to stick to speaking with your child in your native language, you can use the following tips to incorporate a second language into your daily routines:

Books

Read books in the second language.  In English, there are many storybooks available online to read for free.  Use reading as a special time to practice the target language without the pressure of you trying to get the grammar correct.  Since you’re reading, you won’t be prone to making mistakes your child may pick up later.  Then, you can ask your child to tell the story back to you in the second language.  After repeated readings, many children can retell simple stories while looking at the pictures in a second language.  

Movies and Songs

Another great way to practice the second language is by learning songs and watching movies in the target language.  While time watching tv and movies should be limited, when you do watch, make sure you make the most of it by focusing on the second language.  Then, repeat songs and lines together for fun in order to practice the language.  

Games

There are many games available for language learning.  From the App world, with games like Nell, to simple paper and pencil games, you can enjoy lots of fun together learning with games.  Try a simple memory game to practice vocabulary.  In this game, draw or print off matching pictures of the vocabulary you’d like to learn and cut them out so each picture is on its own separate card.  Then, turn all of the cards over.  Each player can turn over two cards to try to find two that match. Each time a card is turned over, say the name of the object in the picture.  Start with simple words like fruits, or items around the house.

Outside Exposure

There’s nothing quite like interaction with others who speak the second language you’d like your child to speak.  If possible, sign your child up for language classes to get extra practice.  Or, make friends with others who speak the language in order to create another opportunity for your child to practice and get exposed to hearing the language spoken.  
Through a combination of these activities performed routinely, your child will soon pick up that second language.  The key here is frequency.  The more often your child hears and has the opportunity to speak the second language, the better.

Want to learn more about raising a bilingual child? Check out our post here.

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