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Teaching your kids to be bilingual won’t be a chore if you follow these tips

Planning to teach your kids a new language? We offer six ways to make the entire experience fun and even a source of meaningful family memories!

There are benefits to teaching your kids to be bilingual. It helps enhance their mental development and makes them more sensitive to other languages and accents, with a better ear for listening.

Teaching kids a new language also exposes them to other cultures. It gives them the chance to speak with people they would normally not be able to converse with otherwise, and this gives them a confidence boost as well.

Being bilingual is also beneficial for your kids' future because global opportunities  areeasily accessible through the Internet and advancements in communication. Now, there are countless careers opening up where knowledge of more than one language is an advantage.

Are you ready to expose your children to a new language? Get started on teaching your kids to be bilingual with these six helpful tips.

teaching your kids to be bilingual Teaching your kids to be bilingual can benefit them, not just now, but later on in life, too.

1. Start them young, but remember that it’s never too late to begin

When children are exposed to a new language early on, it becomes easier for them to pick up its unique sounds. Therefore, when teaching your kids to be bilingual, it is best to start while they are young.

The reason behind this is that children's ability to hear the different phonetic pronunciations is sharpest before the age of 3. Beyond this age, we lose the ability to hear and produce certain sounds, according to New York City’s Language Worksop for Children director, Francois Thibaut. That said, it's never too late to teach a new language to kids.

There are advantages to starting a bit later, too. Older children are likely to have a wider vocabulary, making it easier for parents to associate familiar words with those from the new language being taught. It may be more difficult, though, for older kids to pick up a good accent or pronunciation.

2. Make it fun with media

When learning a new language is fun for kids, they'll want to keep learning. It will be easier for you to get their cooperation and participation when it's time to read, understand, and practice new words and phrases.

One way you to make learning fun for your little one is through media. Television programs such as Dora the Explorer (for Spanish), Ni Hao Kai-Lan, (for Mandarin), and Sesame Street (for English) are good options.

There are also several books, games, and apps that can teach children a second language through word and image association. Even playing music with foreign lyrics helps.

Click "Continue reading" more tips on teaching your kids to be bilingual on the next page.

teaching your kids to be bilingual Pick a phrase! Having a word or phrase to focus on makes teaching your kids to be bilingual easy and fun.

3. Choose a "Word of the day" or "Phrase of the week"

Find creative ways to encourage children to use new words and phrases they learn. Practice makes perfect, after all. Do this by choosing a word of the day or a phrase of the week for them to master.

Acknowledge their efforts each time they use the word or phrase properly. You can also have a reward waiting for them at the end of the week for trying their best. This helps add fun and excitement when you are teaching your kids to be bilingual.

4. Speak to them using the new language

Use the new language that your children are learning when you speak to them. Doing so helps kids become more familiar with new words and how they are used. To avoid confusion, you can assign one parent to speak in the new language and the other to maintain conversations in the child's first language, following the "one person, one language" method.

Learning through conversations helps kids understand new words and phrases in a contextual sense. As you converse with them, you also have the opportunity to point out when they use terms incorrectly. This way you can recommend better terms and then explain the meaning of misused words or phrases on the spot.

To help in teaching your kids to be bilingual, expose them to native speakers of the new language. Hearing the words spoken to them helps children learn proper accents and pronunciations. Through asking and answering questions with native speakers, kids can also become more confident in using the language they are trying to learn.

Click "Continue reading" more tips on teaching your kids to be bilingual on the next page.

teaching your kids to be bilingual Speaking in the new language your child is learning encourages him or her to use it, too.

5. Teach culture along with the language

For children to appreciate the language they're trying to learn, teach them about its country of origin and culture. This way, it will be easier for you to explain the proper contextual use of words and phrases to them.

Doing this gives children a greater appreciation for languages while you the chance to teach them about the wonderful diversity that lies outside their own home and culture.

6. Set manageable expectations

Teaching your kids to be bilingual is easier for some than it is for others. Take note that different factors affect children's learning pace, so remember to set manageable expectations for them.

The same goes for expectations you set for yourself as a teacher. Make the process fun, and be open to the probability of learning, too, as you teach. This way you and your children can benefit from and bond throughout the experience.

Have you been teaching your kids to be bilingual? What tips can you share for other parents who wish to do the same?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patricia de Castro-Cuyugan

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