The language that you speak is part of your family's identity.
Being bilingual or multilingual helps your child connect to your wider family, community and culture. As well as that it has many educational benefits.
More children in the world grow up bilingual than monolingual. Having more than one language is something to be celebrated, promoted and supported.
Following these 5 top tips will help you give the gift of your language to your child.
Learning to speak in more than one language comes naturally to babies. Even before your baby is born all the patterns and rhythms of the languages surrounding them are being stored so that from birth they are ready to start linking the languages heard and spoken by their carers ~ so talking to them in your most fluent language from the earliest age onwards is helping them to develop a good understanding and use of their home languages.
Children learn best from good language models so speak to your child in your most fluent language every day! Developing any language takes time and practice for children so use your language when you talk at mealtimes, bath time, about their day at nursery and other daily routines.
Learning is always easier when it is enjoyable so talking in your language while you are playing is a great way to help your little one remember key words. Why not also encourage brothers and sisters, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and family to talk and play in your language with your child. Remember if family live far away, you can still do this via the telephone or Skype.
Tell stories and sing songs and nursery rhymes that you remember from your own childhood or ones that you make up. Your local library has dual language books that can be borrowed and you can also talk about the pictures in all books in your language.
Encourage your child to be proud of your Home Language. It is part of their culture and an important link to their family. Praise your child when they use your language and be proud that you are able to give them this wonderful gift!
The language you speak with your children is the first language they will learn. It is their first connection to you, to the rest of their family, and to their culture and community. It is the language they first use to learn about the world around them. It is the language that helps them get “set for life” – and you are a central part of that process!
To share the significance of talking your home language with your child we have created a leaflet to explain it further and this has been translated into 20 of the most common languages in Essex. To download your copy click on the link in the sidebar.