Everyday Ways to Teach your Little One a Second Language

Everyday Ways to Teach your Little One a Second Language

The benefits of teaching your child a foreign language from an early age are numerous and well-documented.  Due to their brain plasticity, babies are uniquely able to learn multiple languages at once with great ease – without confusion or delays to the learning of their native language. 

In fact, not only can speaking a second or multiple languages with your child mean they are able to converse with greater fluency in these languages in later life, studies have shown that it may also lead to a higher IQ, better performance in standardised testing at school age, greater levels of concentration, enhanced problem solving and greater critical thinking skills. Learning a second or multiple languages may even contribute to slowing brain ageing in later life 

I know what you’re thinking – “Yes, that’s great in theory but I’m not bilingual!”. Fear not, introducing a second language may seem like a huge task, but even if you only remember a few words of GCSE French it can be a lot easier than you think! Here are some everyday tips to help even a novice linguist work a second or multiple languages into your daily routine. 


Games 

Games are a fantastic way for young children to learn a vast number of skills, and language is no exception. I love to use games in my classes as I find learning through play to be one of the best tools in successful language acquisition.

Why not try a game of multi-lingual peek-a-boo using very basic greetings of your chosen language or languages? If you’re needing a bit of revision or to learn the basics from scratch a quick Google search will help you to find the words you need, including audio snippets for pronunciation. Role playing games are also a great way to learn – why not play ‘What animal am I?‘ guessing and answering in both English and your chosen language.  

Songs 

Babies and young children love nursery rhymes. I’m sure you’ve sung them at home with your little one or at one of the many community baby groups in your local area, usually accompanied with lots of jumping about, dancing and actions.

Singing is also a fantastic way to learn a second language, particularly if the song is already familiar to your child. Youtube is a great (and best of all, free) resource for learning nursery rhymes in a second or multiple languages, so search for one of your favourites in your chosen language and sing to your little one. I promise, it won’t be long until they are singing it along with you! 

Television 

Watching television in a second or multiple languages is an easy, fun way for both you and your little one to learn – but don’t panic – you don’t need to spend hundreds a month on a foreign satellite linkup to do this. Netflix has a fantastic range of childrens programs and films with the audio in multiple languages.

Go to ‘Browse’ on your Netflix profile, find ‘Audio and Subtitles‘ and choose the language you want to try. My children love watching ‘Pocoyo‘ in Spanish and French, and some family favourite films such as Shrek and Madagascar.  You can even add English subtitles for yourself or older children to help your understanding. 

Books 

Reading is always a lovely thing to do with your little one, and it’s never too early to start! With so many types of books to choose from it’s easy to incorporate a second or mulitiple languages. Picture and interactive books (sounds and textures) are brilliant tools for this, I’ve used these since birth with my children and always recommend them as a great resource. Why not start with a ‘Farm Animal’ picture and sounds book (Usborne do some lovely examples!) say the animal names aloud in English and then your chosen language (using Google for revision if needs be). 

You can also find a multitude of ‘Baby’s First Spanish / French /Italian (and so on) books with useful words to start them off.  Amazon is also a fantastic place to find dual language books including Fairy stories – my son and I are currently reading ‘Los Tres Cerditos The Three Little Pigs’ and my students loved ‘Boucle d’or et les trois ours’ (Goldilocks and the Three Bears) in our last French lesson.  

Take a class 

A fantastic and even more fun way to introduce a second language to your week is to take a class. You’d be surprised how many options a quick search will bring up in your local area. From Mum and Baby / Toddler, Preschooler, KS1 / 2 all the way up to adult courses, there are some brilliant, fun classes in the Cheltenham and Gloucestershire area with a focus on learning through play and song. Netmums is a fantastic resource for finding which languages are available for your child.

A Guest Blog from Hannah Shannon
About Hannah

Hannah Shannon is the founder of Petit Mundo in Cheltenham. Petit Mundo specialises in Spanish and French classes for Mums and Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers and KS1 & 2. For information or to book a class please visit the Petit Mundo Website, Facebook or Email: info@petitmundo.co.uk 

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