Why is it recommended to expose kids to different languages?
As parents, we all want the best for our children's development. Should learning more than one language be an essential part of growing up? At Cali's Books, we created the best educational books to help your kids to learn languages with music.
Do you speak more than one language or wish you did? The benefits of raising multilingual kids extend far beyond talking to Abuela, Opa, or Sobo. Let's dive into the science and joy behind learning multiple languages with music and introduce you to the very best Cali's Books has to offer to your toddler.
As a multilingual person with French and Caribbean roots, it's always been important to have my kids share my culture. Language is a massive part of my experience of culture. Thankfully, at Cali's Books, we've made it fun and easy to learn languages with music. This article will teach you all about the importance of supporting bilingual and multilingual kids. If you want a head start on raising a little polyglot, why not check out the 7 Languages Collection? The alternative, Multicultural Collection, teaches languages and cultural aspects with song, dance, and the usual Cali's Books dose of joy.
Read on to discover the benefits of raising multilingual children, what foreign languages are best for kids, what age they should start learning, how you can teach your kids how to learn a new language and what won’t help your child learn a new language!
Why Your Children Should Speak Languages Other Than Their Native Tongue
Children are incredibly effective at learning new languages. They do this by listening, adopting what they hear and adjusting to feedback. What feedback are they adjusting to? Them being kids! They talk, play and live life, all while learning a foreign language. It is this process of living life like normal, and the fact that their brains are so primed for growth, that helps them learn so quickly and fully. There are many additional benefits that come with learning a foreign language:
Enhanced problem solving
Speaking a foreign language increases a child’s ability to solve problems. How is this possible? Kids who speak multiple languages can understand the differences between those languages and switch between them, helping them view and solve problems differently than others.
Enhanced creative thinking
Children are inherently creative and knowing how to speak both your native language and a foreign language increases that creative potential. Two languages mean twice the potential for expression. It also helps kids look at a situation from new perspectives, enabling them to release all that creativity within.
Improved verbal and spatial abilities
It only makes sense that learning new language skills makes other areas of your life more efficient and effective! For kids that speak multiple languages, verbal skills, vocabulary and spatial abilities all ranked higher than kids who spoke only one language.
Remembering two sets of grammatical rules (even though they likely don’t consciously think about it), two sets of alphabetic sounds and different sets of words sets kids up for amazing memory. Kids that speak two or more languages consistently show higher memory capacity than those who do not.
Some words and concepts don’t translate fully to another language. Kids who learn a new language (perhaps your native tongue), can embrace the differences in culture more fully than if they didn’t know that language. The celebrations, the cultural traditions and the songs can all be more deeply appreciated when the language is understood.
What Foreign Languages Are Best for Kids?
Before kids get involved in the language learning process, you have to choose which language is the best for them. Which is best? This depends! Are you doing a lot of travel to a certain place? Do they have a heritage that you want them to understand in your native tongue? Or do you want them simply to learn languages that will help them later in life? Regardless of your reasons, here are a few great languages to consider learning and some stats to know.
Currently, in Europe, kids are mostly learning English (97.3%), French (33.8%), and German (23.1%), which are followed by Spanish (13.6%), Russian (2.7%), and Italian (1.1%).
In the US, 70% of elementary school students learn Spanish. 15% learn French, and less than 5% learn German.
Voila! French is a beautiful, rich and exciting language to learn, no matter your age. It is one of the official languages in Canada, it is the 3rd most understood language in the EU and is the official language of 29 countries.
Spanish is another amazing language to embrace, especially for little kids! It is extremely popular in the United States (up to 70% of the elementary school kids in the US are learning Spanish) and is the 4th most used language around the globe.
When it comes to popular languages, German is near the top of the list. It is the most commonly spoken language in the EU, even more than English. It is also an official language in 5 countries, giving anyone who can speak German an advantage over those who don’t.
What Age Should My Child Learn a Foreign Language?
When it comes to kids, the question we always ask ourselves as parents is, “When is it the right time?” Learning foreign languages may seem like a daunting task (which it is) but it is not nearly as much of a hurdle for a young child as it is for an adult. So, when is the right time to develop and grow your kids foreign language skills?
For children, it can be as soon as possible. As crazy as it may seem, between 0-3, a child’s mind is ripe for learning a foreign language, more so than at any other time in their life. If they learn languages early enough, children will become bilingual and sound like native speakers in both languages. This is because they can learn the sounds of both the native and language and target language as that part of their brain is developing.
However, if your child is older than 3, no need to worry! There are many fun activities and interactive games that can help children learn new languages. As your child grows older, beyond the age of 6, you will need to use more active forms of learning to achieve the same type of results.
How Do I Teach My Child Another Language?
As a mother or father who has decided to teach your child a foreign language, this may seem to be the most daunting parental challenge of all time. Don’t worry! There is lots of help and there is no need to panic or feel like you need to be fluent to help your kids learn a new language.
You can lean on the help of all of the amazing books, apps and other tools available for parents who embark on the foreign language train. New vocabulary aids, fun activities and more can help your home become the school for language skills for your kids.
Duolingo turns learning a new language into a game-type process that is entertaining and educational at the same time! Perfect for understanding the basics and simple vocabulary.
More advanced than Duolingo, Babbel has a steeper learning curve but eventually leads to a broader understanding of the vocabulary and how it is properly used.
Language Learning Programs
More advanced students and older kids may want to graduate to a language learning program. Both Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur offer great programs that can help you go from “second language to second nature”.
Cali’s Books has wonderful sound books that are a great tool to use in your child’s learning process. Multicultural sound books and specific languages like Spanish and French, among others, are designed to keep kids entertained while teaching them basic words and sounds.
Brain Pop Jr. is a fun and colorful set of videos that can help your child learn. They are designed for schools so they aren’t completely language focused but they are simple and engaging. This means your kids will focus and try to understand what is happening, which leads them to connect the dots between the words and the images on the screen.
One great way to teach kids how to learn a foreign language is to play a game that is familiar to them in that language. How about “Hide and Seek” or “Go Fish”? “Simon Says”, “Scavenger Hunt” and many other games also make for great fun and a powerful learning experience.
The classic! Flashcards are still a great way to help kids learn. Quizlet Plus is a fantastic starter tool for those learning a foreign language (for both parents and kids)!
Can My Child Learn Language from TV?
One of the ideas that have been sold to parents, or repeated by friends and family, is that your child can learn a foreign language from the TV. “Especially if it is an educational show, right?” Wrong!
Language learning, particularly for young kids before the age of 2, is done through activities with adults and other people that speak the target language. Kids absorb vocabulary and other language skills through fun activities with loved ones. Interactive games, sound books and other in-person, face-to-face activities are what get the mental gears moving.
Study after study, year after year has proven that even the programs that are labeled “educational” and “instructional”, should only be used as aids when teaching young children new words in foreign languages. True learning is best accomplished by spending time with native speakers of that foreign language.
We are proud of our educational, entertaining books here at Cali's Books, and we have the perfect collection of nursery rhymes to support your child's learning!
The best time to learn a foreign language is when your kids are young. It improves their cognitive development, they can learn any language they want and there are lots of tools, apps and help for parents wanting to take that learning journey. Since we know that watching a TV show isn’t enough to help kids learn a new language, it takes real interaction, fun activities and interactive games to help kids grasp that target language. That is why the right tools can make a big difference, tools like Cali’s Books.
You may wonder how you can teach new languages now that you know how exposing your kid to new languages and cultures can be beneficial to them. "But, Cali, I don't speak another language, and I'm not a teacher!" Don't worry; with our musical books as educational tools, you can enjoy learning alongside them. Each colorful page has engaging illustrations, delightful multilingual music to sing along to, and lyrics that enhance language skills. No teaching degree or language skills are required from mom and dad.
Your kids will listen and talk their way to understanding a new language. Cali’s Books are designed to help you and your kids on that journey. Enjoy!
Hi! I'm Cali, Founder of Cali's Books
“I’ve loved books since childhood and wanted to transmit this enthusiasm to my children”
I'm a mom of two young children who trained as an engineer and worked in investment banking and at Disney. A French of Caribbean origin (Martinique to be precise!), I grew up in Paris. Los Angeles is now the place I call home!
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