We’re all raising children in an extremely diverse world. We all know the benefits of knowing more than one language. But, whether we’re trying to teach our little ones our native language or hoping they learn the language of the environment they’re being raised in, teaching or introducing our little ones to a new language can be a daunting task.
Do I know enough? Am I going to confuse my little one?
All kinds of questions assail us. So, we decided to bust the top 5 myths when it comes to introducing a a new language to your kids, so you don’t second guess yourself too much!
MYTH 1: Learning More than 1 language will confuse my child.
“ Mama, I want to drink Yelneer." ( Coconut water)
BUSTED: When our little ones learn more than one language, they are going to mix it up. It’s an extremely common thing to do and it’s part of their learning process. As they don’t know enough vocabulary yet, they mix and match to express and communicate. It doesn’t mean they are confused. It just means they’re learning.
MYTH 2: Learning more than one language causes language and learning delays.
"X’s daughter speaks so fluently. My son’s the same age and can barely put 2 sentences together without mixing the words"
BUSTED:Every child develops language skills at their own pace. A bilingual child is learning twice the amount of vocabulary in the same amount of time as a monolingual child. So, if you meet a monolingual child at the park who’s speaking fluently, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your little one has a language delay.
MYTH 3: A child must learn a second language when they are young or they will never be fluent.
“It’s too late! He’s already 10. There’s no point in starting now.”
BUSTED: Though the ideal window for learning new languages is in the early years of our life, older children and adults can learn a second language. The same ways in which younger children learn can be applied for older kids as well. Make it fun. Make it part of their everyday life. Provide immersive opportunities for them to be able to communicate in the second language.
MYTH 4: If you’re not fluent in both language, you’re not bilingual.
"I was never good at languages and I don’t think my child will be.”
BUSTED: Most people who are bilingual have a dominant language. There are 4 elements to every language - listening, speaking, reading and writing. You don’t need to be an expert in all aspects to be considered bilingual. Of course, the more you practice, the better you will get. Learning a language is a skill that can be developed over a period of time.
MYTH 5: I need to be a native speaker to teach my child the language.
"I don’t know enough to teach my child.”
BUSTED: You don’t need to be fluent in a language to teach your child. You can learn together. As long as you are exposing your little one to the language through stories, books, games and songs, by providing opportunities for them to meet people who speak the language, by consistently practicing and developing their vocabulary, your little one can learn another language. Some researchers say that only 1 hour of play everyday in an early education setting can help your little one learn a new language.
So the bottom line is, don't hesitate to speak to your child in your home language, don't hesitate to start language classes of a language you don't know but is important for your child's future, don't hesitate to introduce multiple languages. Don't hesitate. Children are a like a sponge and they will thank you for it in the future!
This blog is the copyright of indigrow. indigrow creates delightful books, games, songs and resources that help little ones explore the multicultural world we live in. Visit us at www.indigrowkids.com to check out all of our goodies!