Caring for Family

Introducing Baby to a Second Language

Introducing Baby to a Second Language

Have you ever thought about teaching your child a second language? Most young children, beginning at just a few months old, have the ability to begin to learn a second language. Here are some good reasons to teach them when they're young.

Greater academic success. Research shows that children who grow up bilingual may do better academically and score higher on standardized tests. Bilingual children may also have better problem-solving skills.

Heightened cognitive-thinking ability. Growing up bilingual helps children develop stronger attention spans and cognitive-thinking skills, making it easier for them to focus and pick up languages when they're older.

Better appreciation for other cultures. Learning a foreign language at an early age can expand a child's worldview and make him or her more knowledgeable and accepting of other cultures. Your child may grow up with a greater desire to travel and see the world after being exposed to another language.

Stronger competitive edge. Although you're probably not thinking this far ahead yet (or maybe you are!), a child who grows up multilingual may have a more competitive advantage in an increasingly diverse and global workforce.

Enhanced social skills. Children who grow up bilingual may fare better in social situations as well. Knowing a second language can be a great confidence booster for a child. And your child will no doubt enjoy being able to communicate with a wider circle of people.

So how do you introduce baby to a second language when you're still trying to master English? Like learning any new skill, it takes practice — and patience. The surest way to success is to immerse your child in both languages as early as possible. If you're already fluent in a second language, start at home by speaking to your child in both languages. If possible, it may help if one parent speaks English and the other parent speaks in the second language. Start slowly, teaching just one word at a time. And don't forget to have fun! Incorporating books, music and videos can make learning new words something your child looks forward to. By the time your child is school-age, you may want to explore language immersion schools or programs in your community that can take your child's learning to the next level. In the meantime, be sure to keep a positive attitude and allow your child to learn at his or her own pace.