Hi everyone! I have something a little different today. Tips on teaching children a second language from children's author Tim Johnson. You can find Tim at his website, and his books on Amazon. Enjoy!
Remember when your child said their first word? Maybe you're still waiting for it. This is a great time in their lives because they are putting sounds together based on what they hear around them and starting to structure their own little vocal chords accordingly.
If you're considering raising your child to speak a second language, you should consider doing it sooner rather than later. Children who grow up hearing a second language around them are far more likely to speak with a native accent when they get older. Adult learners may have the ability to learn several languages, but without the developmental stages of hearing these languages and constructing appropriate vocal patterns, you may never speak like a true native.
The first step to getting your children comfortable with a second language is simply, exposure. This is seemingly a simple concept, but should not be underestimated. They are spending so much time listening to the sounds around them, even if they are seemingly busy doing a vast magnitude of other things, and contemplating how they might make those sounds when the time comes.
Here are a few things to try to build their exposure to a second language:
Listen to music. Even though sometimes lyrics are difficult to understand, the intonation and accent are often apparent. Even better, the cadence and prose with which song lyrics are delivered offer the opportunity for more structured, left-brained, associations to arise.
Read books. Children’s books are a wonderfully engaging way to encourage exposure to a second language. Even if children don’t quite understand all of the words in the story, they are easily engaged in the illustrations, and over time they will build correlations between illustrations and the words. It is also easy and engaging to point to parts of the illustration and use the appropriate vocabulary.
I am the author of several dual-language books which are written in two languages, with side-by-side translations that are actually designed to teach foreign language or English as a second language. The translations also include highlighted words in both languages so that simple correlations in vocabulary can be made when reading. Many of the illustrations are labelled in both languages so that children can, in addition to hearing the words when you point to the pictures, can actually SEE the words and letters of the second language and immediately relate them to the picture.
Tim Johnson discovered the power of bilingual books while visiting Japan as a teenager. In 2011 he started writing the Adventures of Bosley Bear series with the hope of reading these books to his own future children and exposing them to new words and sounds.
Now Bosley Bear is recognized around the world and Tim is committed to continuing the series and educating children about foreign language and culture for years to come. Tim works as a mechanical engineer, and author, and lives on the seacoast of Maine with his wonderful wife and two incredible twin boys.