How to Enable Your Child to be Multilingual
Updated: Oct 4, 2021
In the beginning of life, we had only imagination -- we understood the world purely through images. Our brain then starts taking in external information and begins connecting the abstract visuals into meaningful patterns and logic, and that is how language forms.
Did you know there is no literal rhetoric for the concept of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ in languages such as Chinese? So maybe English natives tend to be more black and white absolutists. Or that the sky was ‘White’ instead of ‘Blue’ in the past, because ‘Blue’ had not been defined?
The language we think in affects how we think, and knowing more languages and definitions helps us think smarter, and also interact better with a wider range of demographic groups. The benefit of knowing more languages is apparent in our world today, especially in a multicultural society such as Singapore. It is little surprise that most children in Singapore are bilingual, bilingualism comes naturally due to our diversity.
But what about multilingualism? Languages are structurally different, but many of them branch out from the same linguistic family. The more languages you know, the easier it is to pick up new ones. There is no better time than our early years for the brain to become versatile with comprehending various languages. But just how exactly do you go about it?
If you're interested, our staff at Genesis Childcare 1989, our childcare centre in Tampines has put together some quick tips!
START IMMEDIATELY, EXPAND LATER
At our infant care in Tampines, Nurture Infant House, we understand that it is best to start exposing a baby to different languages right off the bat (not too many of course). Don't worry about confusing your child, babies are smarter sponges than you'd think! Your baby is already confused anyway trying to make sense of everything *smiles*.
The first few years are the window where the neurons in their curious little brains are quickly soaking in connections that will build the foundation in the long run. Making it a little more challenging will only make your child smarter!
BE CONSISTENT, NOT INSISTENT!
That said, the children need to be constantly exposed to and interact with the language like they would naturally. Don’t force it just because! Do it because there’s an environmental factor present that allows it even without your continual effort.
There is no point in being too ambitious and throwing in Latin or Esperanto that you don’t even know yourself, and hoping to raise a polyglot!
USE BABY TALK? DON’T USE BABY TALK?
Both! Not “goo-goo” and “gaa-gaa” and “poo-poo”, but speaking to a baby in full formal sentences is not going to help much either. Simplify the language structure and slowly build it up, and make the correct sense for them to build upon!
ONE PARENT, ONE LANGUAGE
The most popular method is one where each parent sticks to one language. This helps the child’s brain compartmentalize and identify the are differences by associating each one with different sources and scenarios. It is important to be consistent!
This helps even more tremendously if both parents speak different languages other than the main language (English for example). Don’t worry about the main language used in your area, your child is bound to pick it up eventually.
Also, having a multilingual environment is a powerful catalyst so be sure to enrol them in places like our playgroups and preschools in Tampines that have a diverse racial and cultural crowd!
DON’T CORRECT! CONNECT!
Always let your child develop through positive reinforcement! If your child points at a cat and says “ca”, don’t say no! Fit it in and say “yes! It’s a cat!” Let your child feel confidence and affirmation, to figure out the connection rather than being corrected.
This becomes more tricky with more languages, but always try to apply the same charity when your child is making mistakes and mixing up the languages, it is only natural!
Lastly, the best discipline for getting languages down is having your child love reading and teaching them writing. It is wise to not just have social interaction as an outlet for language acquisition, but also to allow the opportunity to learn through availability of not just books but also music, toys and games.
Nurture Infant House (Tampines)
At Nurture Infant House, our passion is to love and care for each infant and to provide a safe and interactive environment for infants to learn and grow in body and in mind independently.
If you are looking for infant care in Tampines or in East, do visit Nurture Infant House.
We have over 30 years of experience in nurturing thousands of infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers.
If you are looking for a preschool for toddlers and older children in Tampines or in East, do visit Genesis Childcare 1989.
Feel free to book an appointment through WhatsApp.
You can visit us at the following venues:
Nurture Infant House (Tampines) (2 to 18 months Infants) Blk 433 Tampines Street 43 #01-61 Singapore 520433
Genesis Childcare 1989 (Tampines)
Blk 433 Tampines Street 43 #01-63/65 Singapore 520433