With so many benefits to speaking more than one language, it’s not wonder why so many parents are looking for ways for their child to be bilingual—and even multilingual. Aside from the ability to expand one’s worldview, speaking multiple languages develops better communication skills and social development. The Multilingual Children’s Association notes that bilingual and multilingual children have great advantages—including better reading and writing skills, and a higher academic prowess overall.
Interested in raising your kid to be bilingual? The sooner you get started, the better! Here are some good places to start.
As you might’ve guessed, there are tons of bilingual books out there for you and your child to read. A good start when trying to raise a multilingual kid, however, is to enjoy one or two books that break down ways to start your language adventure.
Be Bilingual—Practical Ideas for Multilingual Families By: Annika Bourgogne
Parents looking for an easy read with practical tips—that don’t go over their heads—should consider Be Bilingual. Annika Bourgogne is praised for her expertise and ability to deliver ideas that go against the grain and yield helpful results on the journey to bilingualism.
Bilingual by Choice: Raising Kids in Two (or more!) Languages By: Virginie Raguenaud
Sometimes, it’s good to hear advice on how to raise a multilingual child from someone who’s experienced it first hand. Author Virginie Raguenaud not only speaks multiple languages, but also shares her personal experiences growing up in a bilingual household and how she was able to teach her twins how to speak different languages (even if one parent only speaks English).
Raising a Bilingual Child (Living Language Series) By: Barbara Zurer Pearson
Those who are looking for step-by-step instructions to put into practice will likely enjoy Raising a Bilingual Child. Barbara Pearson made an easy-to-follow guide on ways to introduce a child to a second language, and provides first-hand accounts from moms and dads who are raising their kids to be bilingual.
Depending on the language you would like your child to learn, there are quite a few smartphone apps you can download that will allow you to put your endeavors into practice.
Tons of moms and dads praise this app as it exposes small children to multiple languages in a visual way. The app’s flash cards introduce babies and toddlers to 23 different languages—including Spanish, French, and Chinese—and also provides memory games and quizzes for older kids.
Winner of iPhone App of the Year and noted by The Wall Street Journal as “the best language-learning app,” Duolingo is something your children will enjoy. Not only will your son or daughter have the chance to build a strong vocabulary in a different language, but can also work on grammar and piecing together sentences in a practical and easy way. Duolingo has often been compared to taking a language course on the university level.
This app encourages your little ones to learn a series of different languages at their own pace. Busuu no only teaches the basics but also reiterates pronunciation, thanks to prompts with native speakers. With 11 foreign languages at your fingertips, it’s only a matter of time before your child picks one up.
Set a few learning goals with your kids using the Babbel app. With tools for beginning and advanced speakers, your child can progress through learning a different language with all the tools needed to be successful.
Need some more tips? Here are some more ideas to put into practice.
1. Enroll your child in a bilingual early learning program.
2. Stock up on learning tools—including books, music, and games/toys—that focus on learning a new language.
3. Join a Mommy & Me group that offers foreign language classes.
4. Hire a care provider who speaks another language fluently (if able).
5. Search for school programs that offer language-immersion programs.
6. Encourage older children to join extracurricular clubs and programs that focus on learning a new language.
7. Purchase Rosetta Stone or another language program to try as a family.
8. Hire a foreign language tutor (if able).
9. Branch out of your neighborhood, and allow our child to experience different cultures. (Frequent playgrounds, restaurants, and other areas where others are speaking the language you want to learn.)