Have you been considering bringing up bilingual children? Extensive research has proven that the benefits of bilingualism are numerous and that equipping your child with the ability to speak more than one language will serve them well in life.
It’s worth noting that the younger the child is, the better, not only for the ease and speed of picking up the language but also because it allows them to truly master the accent. However, it is never too late to start.
How does being bilingual benefit the brain?
The ways in which being able to speak more than one language can benefit a person vary from social advantages to cognitive improvements. If your native language is a widely spoken and influential language like English, you may think that learning a second language isn’t important for your children, but the cognitive benefits alone make the effort involved more than worth it. Let’s take a look at some of the ways bilingualism helps our brains:
- It improves memory
- It increases our ability to problem solve and deal with ambiguities
- It helps us to develop skills related to conflict resolution
- It promotes better decision-making skills
- It leads to longer attention spans and better focus
- It develops multitasking skills
- It helps with maths and puzzle-solving
The professional and social advantages
In addition to the cognitive benefits listed above, raising your children to be bilingual gives them skills that will help them in many areas of their future lives. From encouraging them to be more open-minded individuals to making them more employable, there really is no end to the advantages speaking multiple languages can bring. Here are just a few examples of what bilingualism offers:
- A wider variety of job prospects, with a significant increase in earning power
- An increased sense of self-worth
- The ability to live in other countries with ease
- An open-minded nature that is accepting and understanding of different cultures
- The ability to learn other languages later on in life with less effort
- The chance to experience art and literature in the original language
Tips for bringing up bilingual children
As more people become knowledgable about the perks of being bilingual, more resources are made available. From books to blogs, there is no shortage of information out there. We’ve compiled a brief list of some ideas that will help you in your journey to raising bilingual children:
- You and your partner may have the same native language but you can still teach your children your second language, even if you don’t speak it perfectly.
- Provide your children with multiple ways to access the second language, whether it’s T.V. shows, picture books, videogames, or audiobooks, every little helps.
- Try not to compare your child’s verbal skills with monolingual children; all children develop at different rates but it is quite common for bilingual kids to start talking slightly later than their monolingual peers.
- Research different methods for bringing up multilingual children, such as One Person One Language, Mixed Language Policy, or Minority Language at Home, and be realistic about what will work for your family.
- Find out if there are any local facilities in your area such as playgroups, storytime events, or social clubs that focus on the relevant languages.
- If it’s a financial possibility for your family, inspire your kids with trips abroad where they can try out their linguistic skills ‘in the real world’.
It’s never too late to start
Although easier as a child, it’s never too late to learn a new language, and the motivation you feel as an adult will aid you in picking up a new language. From the traditional classroom and online classes to language acquisition apps and opportunities to work abroad, there are so many ways for you to embrace a new language and culture. It’s not just for kids
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