Hola! Ciao! Salut! Ni Hao! Shalom!
How many different languages can you say “hello” in?  What about other words?  Can you get through a Spanish conversation or ask for directions in Italian?  While these skills may seem funny or unnecessary to you, they are becoming increasingly important for your children’s development.  Learning other languages will also help them to improve in their native language.  The sooner you start, the better!
Why is learning multiple languages helpful for your kids?  First, when children are exposed to another language at an early age, it will help them to develop the language more easily and fluently as they grow older.  Secondly, practicing Spanish or French will also aid in their practice of English words as they work to memorize or learn the new words. Finally, teaching a different language to your children will also benefit you!  You’ll get to spend quality, one-on-one time with your children and (potentially) learn something new!
Are you interested in increasing your children’s knowledge of the world and of language?  We’ve assembled a quick how-to guide to jumpstart the process:
How To Teach Your Child A New Language:

  1. Choose the language you’d like to teach. Is there one you’re more familiar with?  Is there a region of the world you’ll want to visit in the future?  Start there, and do your research!
  2. Take some time to learn the basics.  A few weeks before you are set to start teaching your child, review the numbers, colors, greetings and common sayings of the chosen language.  You can recite the new language to yourself in the car on the way to work or during your morning shower.  It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes per day.
  3. Set up language boundaries within your home.  This looks like blocking out specific time to practice the new language. You may choose to do so at the dinner table or right before bed or during bath time.  Wherever your language boundary is, be sure to be consistent.  Do it every evening and have the rest of your family join in.
  4. Always be on the lookout for more resources.  A great way to learn anything new is to put it to music.  For some parents, a Spanish sing-a-long CD in the car is the best language boundary.  Others may prefer reading a simple Italian picture book at bedtime.
  5. Keep it simple. Don’t over-commit to this project.  The goal is merely to expose yourself and your child to a new language and part of the world.  The goal is not to be fluent by Kindergarten.  Add new words and boundaries slowly and make it fun!