How to raise a bilingual kid

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How can parents boost their children’s knowledge and skills of the minority language? Here are excellent tips to follow.

Children are like sponges. It is amazing how they can soak up loads of information and develop phenomenal learning capacity that the average adult cannot do. So when it comes to language acquisition, adopt these clever techniques in honing your child's skills to become a bilingual kid.

Join a playgroup

Allow your child to join in a playgroup or any learning situation where other kids speak the second language. He or she can learn best in a fun, laid-back, normal environment where there are many children of different ages.

Read to your child

Start reading for your bundle of joy as soon as he or she arrives and don’t stop even until he or she is able to do it on his or her own. In fact, you should even encourage questions, comments, and suggestions while reading together.

Make it fun!

Second language fluency can be supported by surrounding your child with games, television shows, and other learning tools that build up the vocabulary, provide grammar rules, and enhance other pertinent language skills.

Watch shows in a different language

If your child loves games and adventure, find out ways you can enhance his or her bilingual skills in this aspect. “My 3-year old daughter adores all the “Dora the Explorer” episodes,” says a mom. “So we download the “Dora la Exploradora” series to get her to learn more about the Spanish language.”

Think outside the box

A dad wanted his son to hear Chinese from someone else other than just him, so he brings him to parishioners’ tea after the Sunday mass. “My little one is a huge delight for the other families especially when they hear him utter words in Chinese.”

Adopt a strategy

It can be one parent speaks the mother tongue when talking to the child while the other speaks the second language. You can also try speaking the second language at home if the child speaks the mother tongue in any other places.

Reward your child

While other parents may not agree, you can let your child earn a little prize if he or she finishes a task or has done something great to enhance his or her bilingual skills. “My daughter loves all Angry Birds novelties so after she finishes her daily homework, she gets something to add up to her collection. It only heightens her enthusiasm for doing her task.”

Invest in a bilingual babysitter

If you need to find a babysitter, go for an au-pair or a babysitter who can teach your kid a new language. The payment would be worth it and soon you'll have a bilingual kid at home.

Travel with your kid

Visit the country where the language is spoken, if your budget and time will allow you to do so. Total immersion for even just a few days can do wonders to your child’s bilingual skills. If you do not want to break the bank, encourage family and friends to pay you a visit instead so they can interact with your little one

Above all, remember to provide all the love and attention your child needs during his or her formative years. Time flies fast so enjoy every moment that he or she learns to utter simple syllables until meaningful sentences. Resist reprimanding when your child commits a mistake. Do not get irritated too quickly when he or she asks questions repeatedly. It may take a lot of effort to do so but it will quicken the pace of your child’s bilingual skills and deepen your bond with each other.