Online videos of four-year-olds speaking multiple languages effortlessly are a joy to watch. Almost every parent wants their kid to be fluent in different tongues for many good reasons. First, it’s a great learning journey. Second, it gives the kids an edge in school and much later on, in their careers. Finally, it makes them appreciative of different cultures.
A lot of Filipino parents are intentional in raising multilingual kids. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. One of the hurdles that you might encounter are the misconceptions about introducing your kid to different languages. Don’t let these myths discourage you from nurturing a polyglot in your home:
Kids will learn more words as they grow up.
Some parents assume that when kids are much older, they would have developed advanced mental faculties, which could help them better absorb a foreign language. Of course, there’s also the fact that they already know the value of discipline and commitment.
The truth is, it’s much harder to acquire a language when you’re older. Science confirms this. You probably know this. Be honest, how much have you learned in your Spanish class in college? On the flip side, it’s easier for kids to learn languages because their brains are like a sponge for new information. So the earlier you teach your children, the better. If you can send them to an international primary school that will allow them to meet and befriend people of different nationalities, you can improve their process of language acquisition. The bottom line is, start them young.
Language lessons in school are enough.
Not exactly. It’s good that your child is learning at school. But remember that continuous exposure is crucial to making languages stick. So you can’t just rely on their classmates or teachers. You have to bring French, Spanish, and Mandarin right into your own home so that your child will get used to them.
There are various ways to do this. For one, you can read stories in different tongues. You can also let them watch informative cartoon shows, like Dora the Explorer. Then, have a chat in Spanish over dinner. There’s also the option of using mobile apps. Kids are into tech devices nowadays, so why not make their screentime a language-learning session? The principle is to include languages in different aspects of home life. Make it a part of their everyday routine.
Kids will be confused when you teach them many languages.
This isn’t always true. Kids can distinguish between two languages. What happens is that they mix words in a sentence at their convenience. For instance, they might start their sentence in English and then switch to Spanish when they can’t find the right English words. This is simply a case of code-switching, not getting confused. It’s an interesting phenomenon if you think about it. Your child can adapt quickly to a “wordless situation” and express themselves better.
It’s very satisfying to have a child who speaks fluently in different languages. With that in mind, don’t let these myths stop your teaching efforts. Instead, you should nurture the linguistic skills of your kids and give them a brighter future.