Beyond Googoo Gaga: Teaching Your Baby Another Language
There’s so much anticipation for your baby’s first word. You strain your ear on every vocalization, hoping for a recognizable “mama” or “dada.” Nevermind those sounds are just babbling, and don’t really correspond to words. It’s still super adorable. All too soon, those sounds really will be words, and before you know it, you’ll be wishing for the days when it was a little quieter around the house.
Your child’s newfound gift of speech presents you with an opportunity to provide him or her with a major advantage later in life. The best time to teach your child a second language is when it’s learning its first! Even if you’re not bilingual yourself, there are steps you can take to give your child a leg up on learning another language.
- If you are multilingual, speak to your baby in all of your languages. He or she will come to understand what you mean in every language as naturally as they would in a single language. Baby Ota founder Ivana’s children speak three languages.
- Expose your baby to native speakers. Whether it’s family, friends, neighbors or caretakers, early exposure to native or fluent-level speakers of another language helps your child develop a natural accent and more intuitive understanding of grammar.
- Introduce new sounds regularly. Music, TV and even talk radio are great ways to expose your baby to sounds they may not find in your native language, for instance – rolled “Rs” or tonal shifts.
- Learn Together. You may have a clumsy understanding of foreign language, but your baby won’t know that. You and the baby can learn simple vocabulary words at the same time.
- Don’t forget sign language. Baby Sign Language is a simplified sign language that children as young as 6 months can begin to understand. Baby Sign Language communicates simple concepts like hunger and thirst, and can go a long way to helping your baby communicate its needs. Research has shown that babies that learn to sign learn to speak earlier than babies that don’t.
Less than 20% of Americans are multilingual, but as demographic trends change across the US, that number will start to rise. The ability to speak multiple languages can really pay off once your child stops crawling and starts filling out job applications. Research also suggests that learning another language increases a child’s cognitive ability, giving them another boost. Beyond those advantages, learning another language is fun! It allows children to dive deeper into new cultures and discover more about the world and themselves. What are you waiting for? Pojďme! Vamos! Allons-y!