Children are like little, sweet sponges! They have been known to absorb and repeat everything they hear. This may not be so much fun for you after you’ve given the cable representative an earful of colorful criticisms, but it can be a fabulous benefit if you want to teach your child a second language. Many countries around the world offer another language in schools as part of the curriculum. Certain nations do so at a very young age. This may not be the case in your country. In some nations, language proficiency is not offered until high school.
As children age, it becomes more difficult to introduce and infuse another language into their lives. If you are a family which has a native language and you live in a country which is new to your family, you should never feel ashamed of continuing to teach your children in the language you first learned as a child. Also, never allow yourself to feel pressured into letting go of your language because you want to assimilate. The world is a global economy now and kids are going abroad very often in college, and even in high school. What can be perceived by others as a unwillingness to conform is just good common sense. Keeping with one’s roots and the potential to plug into another culture will be an amazing asset to a child once he or she is ready to enter the work force.
If you are not from a multi-lingual family, do not fret as there are a multitude of ways to get your child started on the road to being a citizen of the world! As an example, no matter where you live in the world, if you are of the Jewish faith and are preparing for a bat, bar, or b’nai mitzvah, you can start years earlier with Hebrew. If you have access to the education and the child is studying already, take the opportunity to integrate the language into daily life. If you are Jewish, you are a citizen of Israel, and your world of opportunity has just opened up if you can speak and/or read and write the language!
Check community centers, youth centers, and children’s programs at local colleges or universities for language classes. They are designed especially for children. The classes are made to get their attention and keep their attention. The class time is shorter so they won’t become bored and frustrated if they do not pick up on the language right away. Ask a god-parent, or friend, whom is multi-lingual if they would be willing to take some time to teach your child. If you have a trusted neighbor whom speaks more than one language, maybe you can plan a day of fun wherein only the other language will be spoken in front of the child. The direct method does work. Just talking to the child while doing an activity will be the first steps in leading them up the ladder to another language. If, for example, it is cooking or playing ball, they will soon learn how the words correlate to the action and what the new phrases mean.
If you are reading this and you are the parent of older children, do not feel defeated. If you have a child in middle school, try to find any of the above-listed programs for your child’s age group or utilize friends and neighbors as teachers. If you can afford so, hire an actual teacher! It may not come as easily to older children, but it will come. If you have a library card, check out a Rosetta Stone program or one similar. These programs have worked wonders for children and adults alike. If your son or daughter has made it to high school without having had the opportunity prior to this time to take another language, they may be offered one in high school in the country in which you reside. Most definitely take this opportunity. The majority of countries around the world require some “foreign” language to graduate and move on to college. This is a great chance to take a language and go as far as you can at the school level. If they offer more than two or three years, keep going to the highest level! It will enhance his or her experience as a student, make them more desirable as college and job applicants, and open their eyes and hearts to rest of the world.