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Encouraging Your Kids to Learn a Second Language

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Parents that wish they were bilingual growing up or want to nurture their child's second language acquisition have more tools available today than they did thirty years ago. There are resources at every corner that can help you push your child's language learning.

Teaching toddlers and infants a second language is difficult unless they live in a bilingual home, but you have many avenues to help younger children excel.

1. Learn with Your Child

Parents who want to help their children the most can also learn along with their kids. You can choose to:

  • Read the same material as your child.

  • Start having conversations in the language.

  • Buy a phrase book and talk to your child.

  • Read children's books in the language.

  • Buy books with bilingual pages that have the English / Spanish (or whatever language your child is learning), side-by-side.

If you learn with your child, you'll find it much easier to help him or her excel.

2. Label It

There's no shame in labeling the objects in your home in a different language. The idea is to encourage your child to build her vocabulary, and this can be done in any language. I recommend buying a dictionary in the language or choose to use a resource, such as

The concept is simple:

  • Label everything

You'll make labels, or use sticky notes, to label everything, including:

  • Doors

  • Walls

  • Posters

  • Televisions

  • Phones

  • Utensils

The goal is to use this as a vocabulary builder, and a little work will go a long way in ensuring that your child excels in her language learning. You can start removing these little reminders over time, but when you first begin the language-learning journey, these small reminders will be very helpful.

3. Watch Television in the Target Language

Reading is only one part of language acquisition. Your child will need to be able to write and listen in the target language. A lot of language learners have difficulty learning how to comprehend a spoken language.

Different pronunciation and speaking speeds cause difficulty in the acquisition process.

Spanish is an easy language to learn for U.S. citizens because there are ample Spanish channels on television as well as Spanish movies on streaming services. Every language will have its own availability of movies in the target language.

There are a few options that you can pursue. A VPN for Kodi may unlock a lot of channels and television shows in your target language.

Additional options are:

  • Netflix - stream content in the target language

  • Kanopy – a free app that requires your library's participation

You want to surround your child with the materials and tools that she needs to learn a language. When you are encouraging and surrounding your children with the materials they need, it's much easier to acquire a new language.

A positive learning environment is essential to acquisition.

Repetition and encouragement can mean the difference between a language "sticking" and forgetting all of the material in the future. Your kids will appreciate your dedication in helping them learn a language.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.