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Teaching A Young Child How To Speak A Foreign Language

Learn How To Speak Mandarin LanguageIn the United States, most children grow up learning English as their first - and sometimes only - language. There are other children who either learn a second language due to bilingual parents or they learn another language in high school or college. Recent studies have shown that children best learn languages at a young age. On top of that, parents have now started to more commonly teach their child two languages when they are young, even if they themselves aren't bilingual. Knowing two languages from a young age can have plenty of benefits for children as they grow up and become adults. So then, how does a parent go about teaching their child a second language?

What kind of parent can teach their child multiple languages?

Well, the answer isn't just a bilingual parent. Any parent that is dedicated to their child's success can teach him or her a second language. Bilingualism might be thought of as a requirement for teaching a foreign language, but this is not the case at all. So then, all a parent truly needs is a willingness to do everything it takes and the patience to let it all soak in with their child. In reality, most parents could teach their child a second language, assuming that it isn't Mandarin or something difficult (if the parent doesn't speak that language). Nobody should disqualify themselves as a potential language teacher for their son or daughter because it isn't an impossible task.

What does a parent need to teach their child?

There are plenty of materials that a parent will need to teach their child a foreign language. Therefore, he or she might have to fish around for some teaching materials, especially if the target language is an uncommon one. Materials designed for high school or college students should be avoided at all costs because young children will drown in confusion. Fortunately, there are learning aids for most languages out there, especially ones that one might hear in Latin America or Europe. Learning materials aren't too difficult to obtain, but these materials must be geared toward children. Children learn in different ways than older children and adults, so they require a very different approach to things. Anyways, a parent themselves needs to be interested in teaching their son or daughter. On top of that, the parent will need to have both patience and a nurturing demeanor. A child isn't going to learn a thing if their mother or father is overbearing or impatient. In the end, a parent with a great attitude and the proper materials will be able to teach their child anything.

How long will it take a child to learn a new language?

Surprisingly, a child should be able to grasp the basics of any language by the time they turn five years-old. They probably won't start going into the more advanced stuff until after that point in time. Children develop at different rates, however, so a parent should give their child as much time as he or she needs to learn a second language along with English. On the other hand, a parent should take note if their child doesn't develop proper language skills before they turn five or six years-old because this could hint at a language disability. Anyways, a child should have English and a second language down pretty well by the time they hit their teens. It all depends upon how effective a parent is at teaching and how quickly a child develops. Either way, it doesn't take as long as many people would think to teach a child English and another language. Children just pick things up very quickly.

What is the best route to take when teaching a child a foreign language?

Parents shouldn't take a strictly academic route to teaching their child a second language. In reality, really young children don't learn best under a classroom-like setting. For a child, learning another language should be a conversation-like lesson. A parent should teach their child in a very simple manner, avoiding some of the following things:

* Strict grammar rules * Tons of memorization * Teaching from any textbook

On the other hand, the following things should be focused on:

* Accent of the language * Basic grammar and sentence structure * Constant "quizzing" * Conversational teaching.

A child is going to learn best when they can talk to their parent in the language they are learning. For instance, a parent could start a conversation with their son or daughter in the second language. Also, a quiz-like approach can be taken where the teacher asks the student to explain what a particular thing does in whatever language. Young children work best when they can talk something through rather than having to read through a book or write information down on paper. Without a doubt, conversational, hands-on teaching works best for young children. Creating language games is a great idea so that a child can have fun while learning their second language. In fact, there are tons of things that parents can do to make learning a second language easier for their child. Challenging a child is the key because a child that feels challenged is more likely to excel.

What about a third language for a child?

Some parents might ask this question, but there isn't really a clear answer. Feasibly, a child could learn three languages when they are young, yet this could be problematic. After a child has grasped English, he or she might jumble and mix together the two other languages a parent tries to teach them. It is recommended that a parent teach their child English and a second foreign language before they turn ten years old. Parents should allow all of the parts to those languages to soak in so that their child fully understands both languages. From there, a child would be better equipped to learn a third language. Three languages at a young age might be overloading a child, so parents should try to avoid the urge to teach their son or daughter a ton of languages. Most children won't be able to do it all at once.

Should a parent teach their young child a foreign language?

The simple answer is yes. Sure, not all children will be adept at learning two languages while they are really young, but many will take to it easily. A child who knows two languages from a young age will be able to learn further languages even easier in the future. On top of that, the child will be better prepared for the globally connected world of today and tomorrow. Parents that are willing to do what it takes should definitely teach their child a second language. Their are plenty of benefits associated with doing so, so why shouldn't a parent make this move?

Young children can learn quickly and efficiently.

Well, a child can do all of these things. A parent needs to be a smart and nurturing teacher for their child when he or she is young so that learning comes to the youngster without a hassle. In the end, teaching a child a foreign language might make them speak both languages for the rest of their lives or the child could simply forget the second language by choice. Either way, the benefits of knowing two languages at a young age can't be overstated. Learning multiple languages comes easiest to a young child, and older individuals will find it much more difficult to pick up another language. Therefore, parents should teach their child a second language if they so desire to.

More Information

Common Questions Involving Children and Bilingualism

Bilingual Lessons and Tips

By Errick D. Williams -

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