Double Duty Daddy

Raising Bilingual Children

The girls started school a few weeks ago and they’re starting to say words and phrases like “Oh my god”, “come here” and “don’t do that”. Mixing their first language of Spanish that we speak to them at home with the English they’ve learned at school, creates a slight delay in mastering ONE language sooner than other kids. But studies show they’ll quickly catch up to the number of languages their monolingual peers have in their repertoire in the foreseeable future.

There are lots of benefits to teaching your little one two languages: Bilingual children have been linked to creative thinking, earlier reading, and better problem-solving. Plus, knowing two languages can bolster family bonds, since your child will be able to communicate better with grandparents or other relatives who are more comfortable with one language than the other. Your bilingual toddler will certainly benefit when they’re older as well — fluency in multiple languages is very appealing to many employers.

Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to raise raising a bilingual toddler.

  • Start early. You’ve picked the perfect time to focus on raising bilingual children — little ones have an easier time picking up sounds and mastering languages (they’re hardwired to do just that) than bigger kids. Read them books in Spanish or a foreign language of your choosing and read often.
  • Speak both languages at home. Immersion is the best way to pick up a language, so a home in which parents speak two languages is an ideal learning environment for a soon-to-be bilingual toddler. For parents who don’t already know a second language and want their child to become bilingual, my advice is to invite a tutor, nanny, family friend, or relative who’s fluent in another language to their home regularly to chat up their child in his or her native tongue.
  • Split up the languages. Easier said than done, but try speaking one language exclusively to your child and have your partner speak only the other. That way, your child will learn to differentiate one from the other. Another option is to speak only Spanish at home, knowing your child will be learning English in day care, in preschool and eventually, in elementary school (DD Mommy and I speak to each other about 80% of the time in English, 100% of the time to the girls in Spanish. Almost exclusively, our communication with our daughters is in Spanish which naturally facilitates learning a second language).
  • Make it fun. Introduce songs, games, videos and books in both languages to boost your child’s enthusiasm for learning and to make speaking each language fun for him/her/them. Even if your child doesn’t master a second language, he/she will learn a few foreign words/sounds while engaging in the act of learning.




Buena Suerte (Good Luck)!


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