Back when most parents in the United States were in school, they took “Foreign Languages.” Most students stuck with them for three or four years, but few became fluent. Most got stuck in the thorns of conjugations and grammar confusion.
Not so today. Multilingualism is an increasingly necessary skill set in our globalized world. And it starts early. Second language proficiency is a life-long learning experience that begins on average during the ages of six and nine years old around the world .
Contrary to common misconceptions, research shows that a child’s brain can discern and negotiate up to three different languages from birth to the age of three. Research says that at that age the child’s brain shifts into a mode that imprints one of those as the first-language and the other as the second. So, the earlier you begin language exposure at home, the stronger your child’s disposition to become bilingual will be.
So, how can parents support world language acquisition at home? Some refer to their own limited exposure to foreign languages during their school years while other parents might draw upon their heritage language speaker experience to approach language learning. Regardless of your exposure to language or experience teaching your child a world language, it is something you can do and feel empowered to endeavor.
Although it can seem as a challenging task for many parents, I offer a series of practical approaches that should make the process genuine, attainable, and fun for the whole family.