Being able to speak in more than one language can be beneficial to anyone, but giving this gift to your child while they're young can help them for a lifetime. Here's how to make the process a success for the whole family.
Introduce Written Material In The Foreign Language
Books are so fun for little kids and they readily eat up the words and pictures, turning the pages along even if they don't have any idea what's on them. If you present your child with a book in the new language, their likely to look at the text with the same wonder, curiosity and desire to learn that they look at everything else with. Going from English to Spanish or Russian will seem normal to them, building the areas of the brain that form the neural network of support for a lifetime of knowledge.
Use The Second Language In Specific Situations
Because you don't want another language to take over your child's vocabulary and understanding completely, only use the second language in some situations. For example, at the dinner table, speak the new language as much as possible, but limit the foreign conversation to that setting only. You could also assign another family member, such as another child who is already a student of the chosen tongue, to converse with your toddler for a half hour daily. So long as the development of English isn't interfered with, there's really no limit to how and when your little one can absorb the new language.
Enroll Your Child In A Bilingual Program
If you have the opportunity to enroll your child in a bilingual daycare like Performance Montessori, take full advantage of it. Even if you weren't interested in raising a bilingual child, that other language will be absorbed and remembered, opening future doors for your child in academics and culture. When kids get together to play, they do so in their own little language, but turning that into two languages really exercises their brains and helps their skills evolve at an even faster, more proficient pace.
There may be untold benefits to your child being able to speak a second language, from international jobs to high-paying translation positions in major corporations, not to mention their ability to make new friends and help others. It's not that hard, even if nobody in your household yet speaks the new language. Take advantage of your young child's sponge-like brain and make the process fun and rewarding for the whole family, including you.