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Advantages of raising bilingual kids

 
Your child may attend an early childhood organisation where they are exposed to another language and wonder if it's good for them. Or you may be a parent speaking a language other than English and wonder if you should teach your child your home language, as well as English. So what do we know about second language acquisition and young children?
You may be a parent of a child attending an early childhood organisation where they are exposed to another language and wonder if it is good for them.

Or you may be a parent speaking a language other than English and wonder if you should teach your child your home language, as well as English.

Maori language week has sparked quite a lot of debate about the pros and cons for second language learning.

So what do we know about second language acquisition and young children?
 

The advantages of being bilingual


Recent studies have shown that bilingual children have well developed self-esteem, have increased problem solving abilities, can think in flexible ways and are creative with language.

They also have greater awareness about all of the ways that communication can happen such as, through gesture, print, art, music and photographs.

Bilingual children are often able to think more logically and clearly than their peers, as the complexities of making sense of another language stimulate brain development.

When your child learns another language they receive subtle messages that this language and culture is important, valued and relevant within your family, community and society.

This learning can help your child to be open to difference and to get along with people of other cultures. In today’s global society successful people are those who can work productivity with people of other cultures.

Perhaps as a parent with a first language other than English, you wonder whether you should expose your child to your home language as well as English. There are many advantages for your child to learn both.

When your child learns another language they also learn about cultural identity as language is one of the primary vehicles through which culture is transmitted.

From learning about their heritage your child may gain a feeling of belonging, a sense of personal history, the joy of sharing meaning and the security of knowing who they are and where they come from.

This learning supports your child to build a healthy self-esteem. Children with strong self-esteem cope better with change and life’s ups and downs.

From learning another language your child can learn to behave and communicate in culturally appropriate ways with your whânau and friends who share the same language. This helps your child to feel that they ‘fit in’.
 

Are there any disadvantages of being bilingual?


Some studies pre-1960 suggested that learning two or more languages could confuse children, so they end up being behind their peers in both. Current thinking is that this is not the case.

Some bilingual children can be slower in certain aspects of their language development and may use a smaller range of vocabulary or less complex sentences in each language, but this effect is short-lived.

By around age five bilingual children have caught up with their peers, plus they have all of the advantages of being bilingual.
 

5 ways to help your child to become bilingual


1. Sing action songs with your child in different languages.

2. Use words and phrases in both languages in a natural way during everyday life such as, naming vegetables while preparing kai, or saying “Ka kite ano” as a farewell.

3. Perhaps you could visit your local library to borrow children’s language books. If parents show their children that they are interested in learning another language too, your children will be more motivated.

4. You may want to label items in your home like chairs, doors, and windows in both languages.

5. You could perhaps volunteer to become part of a support group or you and your child could attend a multicultural playgroup. These are great ways to be exposed to another language and culture.

Good websites for information on Te reo Maori are www.korero.maori.nz and www.maori.org.nz.
 

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Source: This article has been written by Creators, a nationwide service offering quality home-based care and education. Creators are passionate about seeing every child’s unique talent being recognized and nurtured.
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LCF Fun Languages

LCF Fun Languages

NZ WIDE: You can count on LCF Fun Languages to teach French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, English and German to your preschooler! They will benefit from learning a second language with increased brainpower, vocabulary and self esteem. Don't miss this window of opportunity to expose your little linguist to the wonderful world of language learning. Why not ask us about starting a language learning group with other "mums and bubs" or about introducing foreign language lessons at your Childcare Centre?

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