5 Ways to Promote Bilingualism with Your Child

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bilingualism featuredHave you ever read about the benefits of bilingualism?

Apart from its cognitive benefits, bilingualism increases cultural awareness, which on its own is a big deal. My first language was Spanish and I learned English in elementary school. However, it’s not as easy as you might think, teaching my son my native language. I’ll let you in on a little secret: my husband doesn’t know Spanish. It has been a dream of mine to teach my son Spanish at home. But I have had to be constantly intentional about my efforts, because even though I speak to my son in Spanish, I also switch to speak English to my husband; it’s quite the brainwork! But I love it so much because it keeps you sharp!

There are some ways that both my husband and I have been able to encourage our son to learn Spanish alongside English. Here are some tips you can use to promote bilingualism in your kiddo’s life:

Speak

Learn/speak the foreign language yourself! It can sound like the biggest chore or super exciting, but learning some parts of another language makes you more comfortable practicing it. It also encourages your kiddo to maybe learn a few words. My husband has been listening to Mango language learning lessons on his phone while he gives my son a bath each night, and our son himself has caught on to some of the words!

Listen

Listen to foreign language music. You can take it one step further and memorize foreign language songs so you can sing with your kiddo. You can have dance parties together or get super goofy!

Cook

Have you practiced cooking a meal from that culture? Pull up an easy recipe you can make to give your tastebuds and your kiddo’s a trip! Maybe you can even involve them in the cooking process. You can practice saying some of the ingredients in the foreign language.

Read

Go to the local library and check out a children’s book that incorporates the foreign language you’re practicing. One of the first books I got for my son was Goodnight Moon in Spanish, “Buenas Noches, Luna.” If the local library doesn’t have it, look into an interlibrary loan!

Watch

Watch a foreign language show! Netflix Kids has quite a few options, depending on the language you are promoting.

With so many options, you can even do crafts, watch a travel show of that particular culture, etc; all depending on your child’s developmental stage and interests. At first, I was afraid that my son might have delays if I taught him Spanish while also speaking English at home, but interestingly, he has been picking up on both English and Spanish phrases at home. Our pediatrician also encouraged us to keep it up, because over time, it will be beneficial to his brain development.

And my husband has picked up more Spanish in the process too; BONUS! Are there ways you have promoted a foreign language with your kiddo? Please share!

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