Ever-noticed how bilingual your pets are, knowing both animal- and people-speak? They have acquired this “skill” through your mostly indirect teaching. Now, imagine how much knowledge and skill can be learned if you, instead, actually start teaching your own child a second language.
Many countries teach mainly one language, theirs, denying their people opportunities a second language can bring. So if you happen to be one of the few who know at least one other language, start teaching it to your kid. It would be doubly interesting and satisfying if it is a particular language your family elders spoke before it “dissipated” down the familial line. After all, “Language is the archives of history” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
If possible, start while he is still very young – small kids are basically impressionable, therefore, better knowledge sponges. The better to teach them, my dear. Bigger kids are more challenging, with all the more interesting distractions. Besides, suddenly, parents just aren’t cool enough to hang out with!
Make learning a new language an enjoyable experience for your little one. Teach him to sing or dance to funny Irish songs, if you’re Irish, and explain the lyrics. Read him children’s literature by British or American authors if you’re not in an English-speaking country – there are many books with available translations to help you. Plan activities with him to practice the language: talk about your second country’s native food (like delicious Asian dishes), tell stories with puppets, discuss nursery rhymes, check out child-friendly animations and comics (animés and mangas in Japanese), review clips of native speakers, write together your own stories or poetry. Be creative.
Your child will learn a new skill with these activities. There are lots of opportunities for parent-child bonding! The best way to hit two birds with one stone, don’t you think?
RESOURCES: ESLpartyland.com , antimoon.com, omniglot.com, greatschools.org