I am trying to raise bilingual kids, two of them, actually. I know I’m crazy; how am I going teach rambunctious boys a language that is even foreign to me sometimes? I am semi-fluent in Chinese and I grew up in a bilingual home, but as a kid I was apprehensive about speaking to my parents in Chinese because I didn’t want to stand out to my friends or people when we were out.
I told myself that my firstborn would be totally bilingual and know two languages and be able to communicate with my family in Chinese…and that definitely didn’t happen. Now with my second, I am going easier on myself and implementing a new action plan. Hopefully they are both able to embrace their culture and heritage by learning a language that is important to our heritage.
Teaching Kids a Second Language Action Plan
Make it fun- Learning a new language should be a fun and eye-opening experience for everyone. Don’t try to use one way to learn a new language. Expose your children to books, games, songs, and apps in the new language. I love the Duolingo app, and my kids love how easy and fun the app is…I have even started to re-learn as well. Learning should always be fun for kids, and learning a new language shouldn’t be any different.
Get connected- Social media will be your friend in this experience, find a group online that is learning the same language and connect. Finding a group in the same boat as you will definitely ease the stress and make learning a new language fun and less isolating.
Let your kids lead- Don’t be too rigid when learning a new language! Sitting everyday for a set amount of time might not be ideal for some kids when learning a new language. Let your kids lead; try to make learning a new language a fun experience and not a chore. Skipping a day or two won’t hurt the overall goal and won’t make your kids resist this new adventure.
Group effort- I know with my experience with my kids, I needed help from family when teaching my kids a new language. I know not everyone has that opportunity, but if possible, make learning a family affair. Get friends and family involved with learning a new language. Having everyone invested will make it more bearable and fun for kids.
Learning should always be fun, and learning a new language will open so many doors for your kids and hopefully give them more career and life opportunities for the future.