Canada and Saskatchewan are becoming more and more culturally diverse. Exposing your child to different languages and cultures, starting at a very early age, is one of the greatest gifts that you can give them. From here, children will gain an ability to understand and communicate with people from different cultures and countries. Once they have a strong first language, children can learn other languages easily. Young children can learn several languages at one time!
Here are some ways to help your child learn language:
- Children need to hear the language – Different languages have different sounds. Children need to be able to hear these sounds. This way, they hear the sounds and rhythms of the language.
- Children copy what they see and hear – If children see and hear you speaking the language, they will do the same.
- Children learn through play – They use language to talk to dolls, puppets, other toys, their pets and each other. They play and learn at the same time.
- Children make mistakes – This is a natural part of learning. It may be hard for children to make certain sounds because their mouth, tongue, throat and lungs are still developing.
- Children learn by repetition – Children often want you to read or tell the same story over and over again. They like the opportunity to try and tell the story themselves. Let your child read the book to you or tell you their own story.
- Children love songs and rhymes – Because rhymes and songs use a different part of the brain than talking, children often learn the words to songs faster than the speech we use for everyday speech.
- Children sometimes mix up languages – It doesn’t take them long to sort things out and put the pieces together. It just takes time, practice and listening.
Exposing different languages to your children can be a learning experience for both you and them. There are many dual language books available at your local library. Try borrowing one and reading it together with your child. Even if you can’t speak the language, it will be fun to try and learn. Also, you can learn a language together. There are also many audio books that can be borrowed from the library to help you with that. Contact your local library for a list of these resources.