Updated: Nov 24, 2020
No matter how many languages you speak as a parent, the truth is, there are always going to be challenges to raising a bilingual child.
Kids are smart—smarter than we often give them credit for—but learning a new language—let alone two—at any age is difficult. It takes a lot of encouragement, positive reinforcement, patience, and determination—on everyone’s part. There are plenty of ways you can encourage and nurture your child’s bilingual abilities from a very young age—whether you’re monolingual or bilingual. It’s true that bilingualism doesn’t come as naturally for all children as some people would like you to think—yes, kids’ brains are highly capable of learning, but they’re still children. Raising a bilingual child is an ever-evolving process that requires lots of effort, some strategy, and of course, consistency, no matter what form that takes. We’ve included some of the top tips you need to know for raising your bilingual child—whether you’re a monolingual or bilingual parent yourself. Check them out!
Encourage Them! We’re starting this out with a non-specific tip, but one that we believe to be an important one for raising a bilingual child. No matter if you’re monolingual or bilingual, the biggest piece of your child’s progress is going to be positive reinforcement and encouragement. The truth of the matter is, learning to be bilingual is difficult—no matter what age you are, and of course, being a child comes with its own set of challenges. Being an encouraging, positive force in your child’s life, especially throughout their bilingual journey, is going to be hugely important for their progress, their morale, and their upbringing.
Immerse Them in Their Second Language The best way to help a child become fluently bilingual is by entirely immersing them in both of their languages. Making dedicated efforts to making your house more Spanish and English (or whichever two languages you want your child to learn) friendly is going to make a huge difference. Change the audio on the TV to the second language you want them to learn, read to them in both languages, hold conversations in the language you’re trying to teach them, watch YouTube videos together, listen to music, buy them fun bilingual toys and more. There are so many fun ways to help your child really dive into learning to be bilingual—and they don’t have to be boring. Take something your child loves—like their favorite TV show—and switch the audio. Or, find They can learn by immersion (and have a great time doing it).
Speak to them in Both Languages If you’re also bilingual, this is a great tip! Make sure you’re committing time and effort toward speaking to your child in both languages. Challenge them with talk-times that are one-language-specific or try to switch it up and see if you can mix the two languages and help them practice switching back and forth. This will likely take time, and it will be challenging for both of you, but immersing your child in this kind of language pattern can really encourage and foster bilingual growth.
Ask Your Family & Friends to Help, Too Speaking both languages in your own home can make a huge difference, but if you can get your family and friends to help, too, that’s even better! If you have family that speaks your native language (or the language you’re trying to teach your child) encourage them to speak to your kid in that language! This might be challenging at times, but it can be exceptionally helpful for your child’s journey to becoming bilingual.
Sing to Your Child in One or Both Languages No matter how young your child is, music can be an incredibly powerful tool for your child. Think back to some of your favorite lullabies in your mother tongue (or in the second language) and sing them to your child. This is not only a great tool because of the rhythm, melodies, and rhymes, but it’s also culturally relevant, teaching your child more than just the language. Music is beautiful because it can educate and connect, no matter how many generations are between its inception and its delivery. Learning a language is no different.
Buy them a Fun Bilingual Toy What do kids love the most? Toys! If you can find a toy that’s both great for learning a language and for keeping your kiddo entertained, that’s the ultimate win! Wordy Toys is all about making toys your child will love that are also super helpful for bilingual children—check them out here!
Read to Your Child in One or Both Languages This is a really helpful tip for parents who are raising bilingual children. If you’re bilingual, read to your kiddo in both languages as often as you can. If you’re monolingual, read to your child in your mother tongue and consider learning how to read another language to your child (or, invest in great audiobooks). No matter what you’re reading to your child, your languages will help them become familiar with the sounds of the words, making it easier for them to employ them in their own vocabularies when they begin talking.
Start Teaching Your Child as Soon As Possible While there’s definitely no cut-off age for children when it comes down to learning to be bilingual (anyone of any age can learn to speak new languages), it does help to immerse your child in this process as a young age so they can grow up with it. You can even start with your newborn babies. Sure, newborns don’t understand the meaning of words, but if you begin speaking, singing, and reading to them, they’ll have that early exposure to sounds and words that could help them develop their bilingual abilities faster when they begin speaking. Of course, as your child gets older, your strategies for language immersion will evolve, but beginning from a very young age, in small steps, can work wonders.
Narrate What’s Happening This might sound silly, but this can be incredibly helpful—especially if your child is young. Narrate everything you do to your child in your native language. At first, it might seem strange to talk to someone who can’t talk back to you! But, if you get used to talking, singing, and reading to your baby in your native language—or both languages you want them to learn—you’ll become accustomed to immersing them into a bilingual environment. Your baby will also likely recognize those words and vocal patterns eventually, making it easier for them to take these on when they begin talking. Are you ready to help your child with their bilingual journey? We thought you might! Like we said, this can be a super fun experience—especially when there are awesome toys involved! Wordy Toys makes it their mission to provide kids and parents with awesome bilingual toys that teach bilingual children what they need to know all while being a blast to play with! Check them out here! Happy Parenting! -The Wordy Team "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel. We just want to write wheel on the wheel."