All about children!

Posts tagged ‘vocabulary’

How do I raise a bilingual child?

I know many parents, who are bilingual, that are asking themselves that very same question. Some parents speak a different language than their partner and there are some people who are not bilingual but would like their children to be bilingual. The same question, however, the way each family addresses the bilingual education is very different. So, how do we raise bilingual children? Let’s review a few approaches. 

  • One parent-one language approach. Here each parent speak their native language to the child. That way the child has daily influence of both languages. This really help the child acquire both sets of words at the same time.
  • Time-based approach. Here, both parents have to be bilingual (if possible), and as a family choose when to speak each language. It could be by month (one month one language, then the second language and keep switching), or weekly or even daily (e.g. Spanish in the morning, English at night). This approach reinforces learning both languages with both parents.
  • Home language-community language approach. Here parents speak a different language than the dominant language in the community. For example, Spanish-speaking parents living in the United States. With this approach (very common in the United States, by the way), the child hears the first language (or Native Language) at home and will usually start learning the second language (community language) when he/she goes to school. In this situation the child might have a strong language background to support the second language learning.
  • Mixed language approach. Here both (or one at least) parents are bilingual and the child is exposed to both languages all or most of the time. This approach is slightly different from the one parent-one language approach because the child learns to speak both languages with both parents and does not have to choose a language for a specific parent. 

Things to consider when choosing your approach: When choosing a style of bilingual acquisition, take into consideration that growing up, the child will use more the language that is NEEDED the most. If the home-language is different from the community-language, as they grow, they won’t use the home-language as much, because they realize that they NEED the community-language to “survive”. However, if the home-language is reinforced by all (or most) members of the family as much as they can, the home-language will become “important” as well to “survive” (at least at home!)

Also, consider exposing the child as soon as possible (in the womb, remember?). Early exposure of both languages, will help the child acquire language similar to monolingual children.

I think I will choose the first and second approach for my kids. What do you do? Any other suggestions?

photo: iStock

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Music Benefits…

…language skills!!

I love this topic! I’m combining two loves: language and music! The best part is that one helps the other, which makes my job a lot easier and more fun!

Have you ever wondered why children enjoy singing the same song over and over and over again? Here’s why. Children are learning so manythings at the same time, that it can get frustrating, so when they learn to do something well, they like to practice and maybe show off a little! They are proud of their accomplishment! Which is perfect when they are developing because they learn to perfect their skills!

Here are some of the areas of language that children develop while singing: vocabulary, comprehension, listening, expression

Vocabulary: Children’s songs are highly thematic. They talk about a situation (Itsy Bitsy Spider) or about animals (Old MacDonald) or about our body parts (Head, shoulders, knees and toes). While singing these songs they are learning tons of vocabulary words. The more words they know, the longer and better sentences they make, and the better they can communicate their thoughts!

Comprehension: While singing songs, children start learning if the words are talking about an animal or a toy or a color. We might use a toy horse when singing Old MacDonald and they are now learning that the word horse goes with that toy they really like. Or we touch our body parts when singing Head, shoulders, knees and toes. That’s comprehension!

Listening: When children are learning new songs they have to pay attention to the words so they can imitate them. They have to be attentive to the intonation and pronunciation. And all that is required is to listen!

Expression: After they listen, they start imitating, practicing those words. When children know the songs completely, they transfer that knowledge to every day situations. Maybe after they learn to sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider, now they can talk about spiders if they see one! They might see one climbing up something and talk about how they are going up the water spout!

So when your children sing that song 20 times a day, just think that they are learning new words, learning pronunciation, using the correct intonation of the word and also practicing how to correctly articulate the sounds! Did you have any clue they are learning ALL these skills when they sing one song? (20 times a day)

Another benefit of singing is that children are able to memorize the words faster because the can chunk or divide in small parts the sentences and even the words. Some songs divide one word in syllbles and that helps children learn the word much better. Plus, repetition is the key to learn something new (hence the 20 times a day!). And how much more fun it is to sing all day! Wouldn’t you prefer to learn things by singing, than sitting in a boring office trying to memorize next week’s presentation?

Ahhhhh I love my job!

Are there any skills you’d love to practice 20 times a day?