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Teaming up with Parents to Jump Start Language Learning for Your Child

Jan 24, 2008
We have heard it said a thousand times before and yet we still struggle with what the best path is. The window of opportunity to introduce a second language to our children is way before our traditional school system even thinks about it. Experts are saying between birth and five years old is when the optimum time exists to bring a new language into our family routine.

With team sports surrounding us every day, whether it is our child playing soccer or watching the NFL after some college basketball, I feel compelled to approach this article with a team theme. I want to team up with fellow parents and provide them the simple steps to jump starting language learning for their child.

Look at this part of your task as a parent as game to be played that, should you win, your child wins big time! As you begin your new season of this language game you will need to gather the best players and coaches for your team. Source out as many tools as you find interesting not only to you but also to your children based on their ages. Make sure you include all types of learning styles. Find some music for the auditory learner that showcases the new language. Look for DVDs for the visual learner that brings together your native language with the new language. Seek out cool props and auxiliary items that bring texture and feeling to the process for the tactile learner. Include some moves and interaction with the learning fun for the kinesthetic learner. Including all types of learning styles equals a winning combination for learning fun!

Next in the process of getting ready for the game you need to have a road map, a game plan so to speak and execute it. Play, repeat, have fun, play, repeat, and have fun. It is really that simple. Make the new music CDs part of your daily car rides. Pop in the bilingual DVD that keeps the native language placed right alongside the new language as you and your child spend some time interacting with and talking about the movie. Shake those little maracas and drum on that homemade drum as you and your child delight in the second language journey. Read as often as you can in both languages to your child.

Many coaches after a loss will look at film reel with his team and talk about what they did right and what they did wrong. I imagine you will do the same at times along this adventure of bringing a second language into your home. Here are some common things in the game of language learning that parents mull over and over and over again. I hope to be your coach on letting these myths go in your job as the language coach for your family.

Do not fret over the fact that you are not a native speaker. Experts tell parents that as long as you provide your children with other opportunities to hear correct pronunciation, the play and interaction far surpasses the native pronunciation in importance for learning.

Do not think that this is confusing your child. Just the opposite is happening. This early introduction of a new language will actually allow your child to gain a better understanding of your native language according to reports published by many linguists and research experts. Children being raised to understand two languages score higher on standardized tests math and verbal sections, read sooner than monolingual children, experience extra brain boosting power, and become better communicators.

Did you realize that many experts suggest using a bilingual format up through the age of where your child has mastered most of your native language? They say that it is a very common sense reason for leaning towards bilingual and not immersion during these first and formative years. As a child is acquiring skills in his native language, the learning should never stop in that language. Instead, the new language should be placed alongside the native language in what is called a bilingual presentation for long term retention and a high level of self confidence. Immersion, hearing only the new language with not one word of native language, is typically reserved for after the ages of 8-10. This is when the brain becomes even more specific in the manner in which it acquires new languages; thus requiring an immersion approach.

Our children love learning, we know that! As their coach in the winning season of life we need to keep the language learning simple and observe our children as they blow us away with their quick, sponge like absorption of the new vocabulary words in the target language. They will shout out the new words on the playground one day, delight you in the kitchen with their new found vocabulary as you cook together, or maybe even perform for grandma when you ask them to tell her what the word is for grandma in Spanish, and you smile as they say abuela in unison!
About the Author
Beth Butler is the coach of the BOCA BETH Program. She teams up with parents and shows them how fun and easy it can be to introduce Spanish to your child. Score a free sample of the BOCA BETH bilingual music and movies at our team web site http://www.bocabeth.com
Call toll free 1.877.825.2622
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