Tips on How to Help Your Child Learn A New Language

Tips on How to Help Your Child Learn A New Language 

When you learn a new language, you will experience proven benefits like enhanced intelligence, memory and concentration as well as lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. In recent years, studies have begun to show that the rewards of bilingualism are even more fundamental than just being able to converse with a wider range of people. It can have a profound effect on your brain and improve your cognitive skills that are not related to language.  Did you know that researchers, educators and policy makers once considered a second language to be, cognitively speaking, a hindrance on a child’s academic and intellectual development? Here are some interesting facts about bilingualism:  

  • This interference, researchers are finding out, isn’t so much a handicap but a blessing in disguise. It forces the brain to resolve its internal conflict, giving the mind a workout it needs to strengthen its cognitive muscles. 

  • A number of studies suggest that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function, a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind, like remembering a sequence of directions while driving. 

  • The key difference between bilinguals and monolinguals may be more basic: a heightened ability to monitor the environment. Bilinguals have to switch languages quite often. For example, talking to your father in one language and to your mother in another language. It requires you to keep track of changes around you in the same way that we monitor our surroundings when driving.  

  • In a study comparing German-Italian bilinguals with Italian monolinguals on monitoring tasks found that the bilingual subjects not only performed better, but they also did so with less activity in parts of the brain involved in monitoring, indicating that they were more efficient at it. 

  • In a 2009 study led by Agnes Kovacs of the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, 7-month-old babies exposed to two languages from birth were compared with peers raised with one language. In the first set of trials, the infants were presented with an audio cue and then shown a puppet on one side of a screen. Both infant groups learned to look at that side of the screen in anticipation of the puppet. But in a later set of trials, when the puppet began appearing on the opposite side of the screen, the babies exposed to a bilingual environment quickly learned to switch their anticipatory gaze in the new direction while the other babies did not. 
  
Nobody ever doubted the power of language. But who would have thought that the words we hear and the sentences we speak might be leaving such a deep imprint? 




Tips for Kids in Bilingual/Multilingual Home 
  1. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat 

Apply this technique at home by doing an activity in English and then doing the same activity in the second language a few days later.  

  1. Big Gestures  
Pairing vocabulary words and nonverbal communication helps children better comprehend language. They are more likely to remember terms as they can associate your exaggerated and expressive gestures, facial expressions and physical demonstrations with vocabulary.  

  1. Positive Learning Environment  

When children pick up a new language, they require support and encouragement to engage in social interactions. A good tip would be to communicate by providing a prompt like “Ask your brother, ‘Can I have the book, please?’” and use open-ended questions that start with ‘why’ or ‘how’ to obtain more complex responses. 

  1. Engaging Activities  
It is essential to create activities that are cognitively engaging so that your child will experience language and not just be merely exposed to it through futile repetition. For instance, weather vocabulary can be incorporated into a science experiment in which you and your child could draw a rainbow. 



  1. Play-by-Play 
Say out loud your daily routines and activities as you do them in the second language. For example, while making dinner, have a running commentary of your actions like, “I am slicing an onion.” Your child will pick up on these language cues from associating that activity with the vocabulary.  




Tips for Kids in a Monolingual Home 
  1. Spend Time With A Native Speaker 

A study by Patricia Kuhl found that within 12 sessions, children exposed to Mandarin through social interactions had the same level of phonetic recognition of Mandarin sounds as infants who had been raised in Taiwan their entire lives. Note that infants who had been exposed to the language through audio or video did not make significant lingual progress. Interactions with a real person provided the children with social cues that helped hold their focus better than less dynamic formats so contact a neighbor, friend, or caretaker who can spend time with your child for a truly immersive experience. 


  1. Media in Another Language 
Even though using audio and video media to help children pick up a new language may be less effective than personal interactions, it is a more feasible option for your child to gain exposure in acquiring a foreign language. For instance, you can find music in a foreign language that both you and your child can enjoy together.  
Learn a Norwegian Tongue Twister here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MInLaF27hbE  
  1. Look For Kid-Friendly Software 
There are many programs today that aid young learners in immersing themselves in another language.  
 
  1. Extracurricular Activities in a Foreign Language 
If you can’t find native speakers, consider enrolling your child in an extracurricular activity in which they can be exposed to a foreign language. It could be lessons with a tutor, or activities that just happen to take place in another language.  
 

To learn colors in Hokkien, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzN6O0QVH18  
  1. Learn A New Language Together 

Although it may be time-consuming, if you are interested in learning a foreign language, you can make this a team effort. With adult language learning programs, you can master a language and slowly teach your child what you have learnt. This will have you and your child bonding through mutual learning and you will likely see new linguistic and cognitive development. 
 

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Felicia zoe

HI, Im Felicia, a Youtuber, Special-Effect Makeup Artist , Linguist whom loves Batik painting. My blog started as a personal blog but then I gradually find that I enjoy writing reviews on products and sharing my experiences and travel stories with other readers. Feel free to drop me a message, and you can always email me at feliciazoe@live.com..

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