Si Se Puede! 13 Things Parents Can Do To Nurture A Bilingual Home
October is Bilingual Child Month, and experts agree that being bilingual aids the child development process, preparing children for success in their academic, social and professional lives. But celebrating the benefits of being bilingual is about more than just honoring the children who are already bilingual. While bilingual children are undoubtedly ahead of the game, focusing on child development tactics for those who are not yet bilingual is important. We must inform all parents of the reasons we should all be speaking more than one language in at home.
According to Katherine Kinzler, associate professor of psychology and human development at Cornell University, in an article for the New York Times, “bilingual children may enjoy certain cognitive benefits, such as improved executive function—which is critical for problem-solving and other mentally demanding activities.”
Beyond that, she explains, “Children in multilingual environments have social experiences that provide routine practice in considering the perspectives of others.” And here’s the best part: these skills aren’t unique only to children who are completely bilingual; children who are monolingual but exposed to other languages in their home experience similar benefits and skill sets.
What does this mean for you, as a parent? First of all, it is in the best interest of your child’s development and your entire family to teach your children to speak more than one language, but even if you’re not 100% there, simply exposing them to other languages can also provide many advantages for their development, brain function and overall social abilities.
So, how do you begin? Bilingualism is not exactly a simple skill to master at any age. It can seem overwhelming—perhaps even impossible. And if you only speak one language yourself, you might be nervous to teach your children to speak multiple languages. But the good news is that it’s easier than you might think.
Here are 13 things you can do to nurture a bilingual home and encourage family members of all ages to embrace more than one language in their daily life.
1. Talk The Talk
If you want to encourage your children to embrace a second language and you want them to feel comfortable using that language, you can’t just demand it of them; you need to talk the talk. Kids learn the most from their parents, and they look up to you, so if you want them to not only be bilingual, but also get excited about speaking that second language, you need to speak it with them.
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