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Written by Liza John 

Having a firm grasp of more than one language is certainly an asset. Not only does this improve one’s ability to communicate, but it also enhances brain function, especially in developing brains. Hence, it’s no wonder that many parents want their child to speak more than one language.  

Maybe you want your child to be in touch with their heritage and learn the language you grew up with, or you just feel that knowing another language can help your little one.  

Either way, raising a bilingual or a multilingual child requires commitment, effort, and lots of support. Here are a few tips to aid you in raising a bilingual child. 

Getting Started  

To achieve maximum progress, you need a solid plan to teach your child a new language. One simple way is to expose your child to one language at home and another language outside. This works especially well if the family speaks a heritage language, for example, Mandarin or Arabic, and the child can pick up another language, for instance, English, from school.  

Another way to introduce a new language to your child is through the One Parent, One Language approach. Here, one of the caregivers communicates with the child in only one of the target languages, and the other caregiver speaks in the second one. This creates a need for the child to acquire both languages because only then will both the caregivers respond when the child tries to communicate.  

Quantity Of Exposure  

To boost the process of language acquisition, your child needs to be exposed to the language as much as possible. Look for the best ways to do this. Get your hands on books that have colourful pictures and great stories in the languages that you are training your child in. Read to them regularly, and maybe even play some music in these languages. As the amount of exposure, they get increases, their vocabulary of the language expands as well.   

Quality Of the Language 

While trying to get your child as much exposure to the language as you can, there is a chance that you might use resources that are not helpful for your child. For instance, putting on a cartoon or a film in the target language does not have the same effect as reading a book to your child. Studies have shown that children who acquire language through TV have lower proficiency in speaking the language. Ensure that the resources you make use of includes the highest quality of language and is beneficial to your goal.   

Hire Instructors and Nannies 

If you feel that your child will benefit from more people using the target language with them, expand your child’s circle to include people who can help them. Rope in your extended family if they speak the target language and insist on communicating with the child only in that language. Hire nannies or babysitters who can speak both languages and ask them to help your child learn the language.  

Once your child has acquired the basics of the language, you can hire instructors to further polish the skills. Look for programs that use the target language as the mode of instruction and enrol your child for camps or weekend classes if they are interested. Learning a language at home and from an institutional setting has differences, and your child will benefit from this.  

Exposure To Culture  

Knowing the words and the rules of grammar of a language is commendable but understanding the cultures that speak the same language as the one you are trying to learn can accelerate the process further. Your child gets to see how vast the world is as gives them a chance to explore a new culture that they can also grow to be a part of.   

Final Thoughts 

Language learning is hard regardless of age. Join your child as they learn more than one language and broaden their mental capacity. If you learn a language alongside your child, you can help each other learn. Promoting multilingualism at home can make your child more accepting of everyone’s individual differences.  

The process of learning and teaching languages might seem difficult at times, but if you stick with it, results are bound to show up.

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