EXSELLme prides itself on success stories of developing multilingualism in children. From preparing young learners of English for international school exams to working with entire families on their English language development plans. And in this article you will get some tips on how YOU can help your child develop their second or third language from the comfort of your own home!
1. No Minimum Age
Start early. In order to develop multilingualism in children successfully, scientists define something called a “critical period” for second language acquisition. And this period ends some time between the ages of 12 and 15. Meaning that if you wish your children to become truly bilingual/trilingual/multilingual, you must expose them to those new languages way before they get to the teenage stage. And the earlier you start, the better it is for the accuracy of the accent!
2. Every Little Helps
Hollywood, pop songs, your favourite TV shows, their favourite cartoons, cereal boxes, books, rap songs, YouTube… Please feel free to explore them all! Simply put, the idea is that you surround your child with the new language and that you use every occasion to practise it. Be it your favourite youtuber or the new box of Kellogg’s morning cereal – listen, read, watch, repeat! Above all, you must encourage your child to observe, read and repeat. Multilingualism in children comes much more naturally than in adults, remember!
3. Biological Clock Matters
Make your language sessions regular. For example, these could be bathtime fun in English on Thursdays or breakfast in Japanese on Tuesdays. Alternatively, you could do bedtime stories in German on Friday nights or even choose something entirely different. Just make those a regular weekly occurrence. You will quickly realise that when that time of day comes, your child will soon start craving those sessions in the new language! So let your child’s biological clock do the trick and help you in their second language acquisition.
4. Don’t Worry About Your Accent
Many moms who come to us here at EXSELLme express their concerns about passing on their own ‘bad foreign’ accent to their children. Consequently, they are often reluctant to read that bedtime story to their child for fear of exposing their little one to the ‘wrong’ accent. But rest assured – that is simply not an issue! And your children will naturally sift through the variety of accents they observe. So combined with the accents they hear on TV, YouTube and in songs and other native conversations, your children will make a distinction between your non-native accent and the native accents available to them.
5. Make Modern World Work For You
Let’s face it, technology is addictive. And our children get addicted to it rather easily. So be sure to use it to your advantage. For example, you can simply change the settings on all the devices your little rascals can lay their hands on to the language of your choice. After that observe how quickly they will pick up on the new vocabulary. As an alternative, ask your child to set the destination on your GPS, to order the weekly take-away online, to find the new Jamie Oliver recipe on YouTube etc. And please don’t forget about your child’s weekly treat of picking their own Netflix show or YouTube channel every Sunday morning! It doesn’t even have to be long. A mere 20 minutes of regular weekly exposure to your child’s favourite show, but in the second language, of course, is all it takes.
6. Practice Makes Perfect
It goes without saying that regular exposure to the language is important. However, it is also crucial to encourage your child to actively practise what they have learnt. As opposed to passively watch an episode of “Bob The Builder” every Sunday morning. So encourage them to ask and answer questions in your chosen second, or third, language. Alternatively, ask them to sing along to those pop tunes. Or get them to order their own ice-cream in that new language. Practice makes perfect, after all!
7. Immersion Works Wonders
We have reserved the best to last, of course! This tip is all about 100% immersion in a language. For example, you can send your child for a week, or two, to live in a family in Japan. Or organise for your child to spend time at a summer camp with their peers in Scotland. Whatever the language you are trying to teach your child, there is no better way for them to learn than via interactions with other native speakers in their natural surroundings. Just make sure you organise their immersion before that “critical period” ends. Which as you remember is sometime before their 15th birthday! And the earlier the better.
The EXSELLme Solution:
EXSELLme is an official PGL agent in France. So do get in touch. And we will be happy to set up their week in England, Scotland, Wales or Australia. Interestingly, you can choose between a week of Surfing, Cooking, Filming, Gaming, Motorsports or Amusement Parks there. Alternatively, you can simply stick to the English sessions in the mornings and multi-activity fun in the afternoons.