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How to teach children a foreign language

You may remember I wrote about teaching my kids to speak a foreign language. I also posted a video of my then two-year-old singing in three languages. I did not do that to boast about her abilities to speak more than one language, but rather to show that it is possible for a toddler to be bilingual and trilingual.

I put together some tips to teach your child a second language:

1. It is never too late or too early to start. The earlier you start teaching a language, the better, of course. Even a one year old child can learn another language.

2. Commit to learning a language with your kids. You may need Spanish to find your way to the beach in Mexico. You may need French to bargain at a flea market in Paris. You may need German to read an amazing blog or make a Coconut Mango Cake. Plus, learning a foreign language is one of the best ways to prevent  Alzheimer’s disease.

Even if you do not speak a foreign language (fluently or at all), you can easily learn grammar and pronunciation on your own. Building vocabulary will take more time, but you can do that together with your kids.

3. Pick a language you would like to learn with your kids. Since you will be helping your child to master the language, choose a language you know or would like to learn. Maybe you studied Spanish in school or always wanted to speak French. Pick an easier language first (I would choose Spanish over Chinese). You can always start the second foreign language later. Alternatively, you can start two languages at once. We often study French and German together: “Hospital is l’hôpital in French and Krankenhaus in German”.

I, for example, would never attempt to teach my kids Chinese. I was living in Germany; fluent in 3 languages and tried to learn Chinese thinking it would be just as easy. I must have spent months trying to learn it.  It was immensely difficult. One word can mean totally different things depending on the tone of your voice.  For example, if you use high tones at the end of a word, it means one thing, if you use a high tone at the beginning, of a word,  it would mean something different. At this point I know absolutely zero Chinese and would not be able to help kids out with it.

You may ask why my preschooler is learning Chinese. This is only because it is a free class in her daycare center. Although she does not speak Chinese fluently, even once a week classes are beneficial since they introduce her to another foreign language.

4. Start small. Learn several phrases and use them in the every day setting. Start with “Thank you” and “Hello”. You can advance to “Who would like an apple?” a week later. On average, add one word every two days. Present learning a new language to your kids as a new game.

5. Do not invest much in learning materials from the start. Visit “foreign languages’ section in your library. Get at least one book or a DVD from that section, every time you borrow a book. When you find the type of books/DVDs you like, buy one at a time. We fell in love with Usborne language books  after we borrowed them form a library and we use them a lot. We use a lot of iPad apps to learn languages too. I am working on another post with a review of the best Language learning iPad apps.

6. Talk to Native speakers. If you are looking for a Nanny, a Maid, consider inviting someone whose native language is not English. An au-pair is certainly worth looking into.

7. Learn language as you learn to cook recipes from different cuisines. Handstand Kids Company makes cookbook kits where utensils and ingredients are listed in two languages (English and Chinese, English and Spanish, English and Italian).

The Giveaway:

One lucky reader will win one Handstand Kids Mexican Cookbook Kit:

Handstand Kids Mexican Cookbook Kit is packaged in a resealable tortilla bag with a child-sized oven mitt, the Mexican Cookbook kit introduces kid chefs ages 3 to 12 to delicious and healthy Mexican recipes. Recipes like Farmer’s Market Chips & Salsa, There’s a Meatball in My Soup, and Cheese sandwiches into Quesadillas take your little chef around the world through your own kitchen. All the utensils and ingredients are translated into Spanish so you can speak the language of Mexico as you cook! The recipes are leveled from 1 to 4 avocados so you will know the age appropriate level for your little chef.

This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only. No P.O boxes

To participate in the giveaway, you could do any or all of the following:

  1. Leave any topic related comment (e.g., what foreign language is your child learning or will be learning, when did you start or plan to start teaching your child a second language, what are your tips to teach a child a foreign language?) (1 entry)
  2. Follow @Handstandkids on Twitter. Leave a comment with your Twitter name. (1 entry)
  3. Like Handstand Kids Cookbook Company on Facebook . Leave a comment here with your Facebook name. (1 entry)
  4. Tweet about this giveaway. Teach kids #Spanish with @Handstandkids #cookbook; enter #Giveaway @MyBusyChildren http://bit.ly/o13PK4   Leave a comment here with your Twitter name. (1 entry per day)
  5. Submit this giveaway to any sweepstakes site or giveaway Linky. Leave one comment with a link each time you submit. (1 entry per submission/link)
  6. Like me on Facebook. Leave a comment here with your Facebook name. (1 entry)
  7. Join me on Google Friend Connect (left sidebar). Leave a comment here (1 entry)
  8. Follow me on Networked Blogs. Requires Facebook account. Leave a comment here that you follow (1 entry)
  9. Follow me on Twitter. Leave a comment with your Twitter name (1 entry)
  10. Subscribe to My Busy Children by email here or via Feedburner. Or subscribe to the RSS feed. Leave a comment indicating how you subscribed (1 entry)

This Giveaway ends on July 29, 11:59pm EST, 2011. The winner will be chosen randomly. I will email the winner, who will have 72 hours to contact me or a new winner will be chosen.

This giveaway is closed.

The winner is #18 clarissa; clarissa  says: google friend follower

Review/giveaway disclaimer: I received no monetary compensation for this review/giveaway. I received Handstand Kids products for review. This post contains affiliate links   

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9 Responses to How to teach children a foreign language

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