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Language and it’s endless benefits!

February 7, 2013

images (11)Exposing and teaching your child to at least one other language from the beginning can be beneficial in many ways for long term success.  You’ll give your child a step up in life and learning.  A baby essentially has a clean slate when their born so their constantly using all five senses to learn and take in all the world has to offer.  Learning from cause and effect, touching and feeling, tasting and smelling, singing and dancing, etc. all help create connections in the brain that are all a part of the building blocks for a lifetime of success.  The more the merrier!

When a young child is exposed to another language, it challenges the brain to selectively pay attention to and produce one set of words while suppressing the other which requires impulse control.  Even when in the womb a baby is beginning to distinguish different patterns in speech that it hears!

One thing we have done since D was a wee one was read to him lots.  We made sure that reading books to him was always a part of his daily activities.  When he was about seven months, we began a bedtime routine and made sure it included reading to him.  Since then he’s never once gone to bed without being read to first.  Reading to your child helps expand their vocabulary and imagination and beyond.  Even though they might not even be able to talk themselves yet, their constantly processing the various patterns and noises words make and slowly putting it all together.

Studies have proven that the more you read to your child, the quicker and better they will be at talking, reading, and writing.  imagesHowever, it’s not just reading to them that helps but also just talking lots to them throughout the day helps too.  You can even simply describe what the pictures are in a book instead of reading the words – called a “book walk”.  At the end of the day it’s hearing the words and describing what things are and seeing what’s being described when reading that teaches children language and much more.  Just talking about what you’re doing throughout the day, being conversational, even if they don’t talk yet, is huge.  If you do that then your child will hear well over 30,000 words per day!

Nursery rhymes are also great for many reasons too.  There’s lots of rhythm, rhyming, and repetition, which are all crucial to learning languages.  Also, when rhymes are put with music there is a higher level of comprehension and a broader understanding of language.  Nursery rhymes also help sharpen spatial reasoning which can lead to greater academic success in math and science and other areas throughout life.

images (12)When I was in grade school, we were introduced to both Spanish and French in kindergarten and then starting in first grade we chose one and started learning that language exclusively.  Our teachers would show us these videos called “Muzzy” and we would always get excited when we got to watch Muzzy.  It’s such a great educational video series that their still around and used twenty plus years later!  I also loved when we would learn and sing Spanish songs that had actions and dance to them.  I can even recall a few songs we learned to this day too!

D was first introduced to another language – Spanish – from his first daycare provider.  She watched him and her two boys, which were right around his age at the time (1.5-2.5), for about six months and he picked up a lot of Spanish words during that time.  At first I thought he would just get confused but in the end he didn’t at all!  She would tell us how he speaks Spanish with the boys but he wouldn’t at home with us much.  However, I’ll never forget after the second week or so going to her daycare he came home and starting calling water, “agua” (Spanish for water), and still calls it that (even though he knows it’s water and can say water he prefers calling it by the Spanish term).  But he was the perfect age where he was just starting to talk more and was almost 18 months at the time.  So I believe that this early exposure to another language had a significant impact on his current talking skills, which are pretty advanced for his age (23 months)!

Language is so intricate and distinct throughout the world.  It has evolved over time and continues to evolve, so we must take advantage of all the benefits language offers and teach our children from the start more than just our primary language.  Find a friend who knows another language and have them speak and read that language to your child every so often when their very young and as they grow.  Read to them lots and talk to them about what you’re doing throughout the day.  You’ll be giving them a head start for a lifetime!  🙂

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2013 6:11 PM

    Wow! What a motivating article. I’ve always thought that I’d like to introduce a second language right from the start. My son is 10 months old, so I think right about now would be a good time to start introducing a language. However, my hubby and I do not speak another language. Do you know of any resources where we can all learn Spanish together as a family? I will definitley check out the Muzzy videos that you mentioned! Thanks for any advice!

    • February 18, 2013 9:06 AM

      Thanks, glad you found it motivating and helpful! I appreciate you commenting and reading my blog too.
      That’s a great question of how the whole family can learn another language together. Nothing comes to mind immediately except Rosetta stone but I always refer to my local library first to find local resources, etc. so I would try there. Another idea is by surrounding yourself with the language by exploring the culture through visiting places where that language is their primary form of communicating. Also a perfect family vacation too 🙂

      • March 15, 2013 7:27 AM

        Wanted to follow up from my previous reply to your comment melstefo – I was registering for some fun learning classes in my local area and saw some language learning classes for parent and child. So I would check out in your town’s community activities/classes and I’m sure you’ll find some baby/parent language classes 🙂

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