From your baby’s first word to the first time they string together their first sentence, the early stages of language development can be very exciting for us parents to witness! As your little one is growing older each day, learning and absorbing all that they see in the world around them, they will be experiencing the most crucial point of their language development from ages 1 to 4.
If you want to incorporate a new language during this most impressionable age, the best time to teach your child a new language is now! It will be much easier for your child to acquire a foreign language now, rather than waiting until they’re older. If your child is able to become fluent in more than one language, they will carry the long term benefits with them for the rest of their lives in the workplace, school and in social settings. According to an article by Parents.com, bilinguals tend to be more creative thinkers than those who speak one language. In addition, an even more obvious result of teaching your child a new language, is that you will get the opportunity to expand their knowledge of culture!
Bilingual does not always mean your children have to speak a secondary language; sign language is also a great option for a secondary language. There are many benefits to teaching your child sign language, one being that it allows them to practice his or her motor skills! In addition to working on motor skills, a benefit of sign language is the reduction of anger or frustration that your child may express. By teaching them to use their hands as a way to communicate they are upset, instead of hitting or scratching, you're redirecting them to a much more positive outlet!
O.K. I know what you might be thinking… teaching my child another language on top of their primary language sounds like a lot of work, a lot of time, and the idea may seem out of reach. However, you can take “baby steps” (pun intended!) each day to ensure your child is gaining the knowledge they need to learn a new language. Start with the basics (Hello, Goodbye, Thank You) and little by little, add more vocabulary for your child, slowly over time they will have built up their word bank, and may start to form sentences with them! Supplement by incorporating music or television, toys and books, that are in another language as well.
The important thing to remember is that this whole process will not happen overnight, there is bound to be obstacles, so be patient with baby and yourself, mama!