Building a multilingual learning environment for your child

Whether you have a multicultural family or not, if you can speak a foreign language, you should teach it to your kid from an early age. Incorporating a foreign language into your child’s daily routine has countless cognitive and social benefits. In fact, multilingual children generally have more developed language-learning capacities, sharper memories, a richer vocabulary,  and greater problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. They also tend to be more open minded, have more perspective, they appreciate other people and cultures and are less likely to be intolerant, racist or xenophobic.

I have a multicultural family. When my daughter was born, I wanted to make sure that she would be able to communicate with all the people in her family. Building a multilingual learning environment for her was very important to me, so I used a combination of things to ensure there would be no language and social barriers between her and the people in her life.

  • Speak a foreign language at home: 

If you can speak a foreign language, you should speak it with your child daily. My daughter and I currently live in Germany and everyone in our town speaks German to her: her friends, her kindergarten teacher, her dad, my friends… etc. I knew I did not have to worry about teaching her German since she would learn it from other people anyway. I always spoke French to her from the time she was in my belly. She hears me speak German and English to other people, but she knows our language is French. She also knows that when she wants to ask me something, I will only answer if she says it in French. I have recently introduced English to her because I can see how comfortable she has become with German and French and I just love the way she switches languages all the time.

  • Books and videos: 

Kids TV programs are available in so many different languages. You can have your kids watch their favorite videos in the foreign language you want them to learn. My daughter’s favorite TV programs are all available in French, English, and German. Sometimes we watch them in French, English or German.

Some of her favorite books are from “bilibrini – die kleinen Zweisprachigen”. They have amazing books for bilingual children. I read her the books in French or English, and her dad does it in German.

My World Is So Colorful 

My World Is So Colorful

Here We Are – From Head to Toe 

Here We Are - From Head to Toe

What Shall We Wear Today? 

What Shall We Wear Today?

On the Farm

On the Farm

1, 2, 3 in Kindergarten

1, 2, 3 in Kindergarten .jpg

Another book she Loves is “Tous différents!” by Laure du Faÿ.  This book is made of five puzzles representing faces of very different children: light or dark skin, with straight or curly hair, eyes of different shape and color. Children can assemble the puzzles as instructed in the book or mix them according to their imagination. This book is for children from 3 to 5 years old.

Tous différents!

Tous différents!

  • Travel the world:  

Another thing you can do to build a multilingual learning environment for your child is to spend holidays with them in countries with foreign languages and foreign cultures. I have taken my daughter to 3 different continents so far, and I will keep traveling the world with her whenever I can.

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2 Replies to “Building a multilingual learning environment for your child”

  1. Hi Tonya, I wasn’t able to find an English version of “Tous différents!”. However, another book I love and recommend is “It’s Okay to be Different” by Todd Parr.

    Like

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