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					Title:
Raising Bilingual Children: 10 Tips for Boosting the Minority Language

Word Count:
789

Summary:
Your toddler may think that he or she’s a complete superhero -- and when
it comes to language acquisition, it’s actually true! In particular,
compared to adult language learners. Lena Sandvik in Boston says “I’m
amazed that my 15 and 11 year olds have grown up to be completely
bilingual. My accent and those silly, grammatical errors still haven’t
disappeared, even after 15 years in the country.”


Keywords:
Bilingual children, bilingual child, bilingual families, bilingual
family, multilingual children, multilingual child, multilingual families,
multilingual family


Article Body:
<p>Your toddler may think that he or she’s a complete superhero -- and
when it comes to language acquisition, it’s actually true! In particular,
compared to adult language learners. Lena Sandvik in Boston says “I’m
amazed that my 15 and 11 year olds have grown up to be completely
bilingual. My accent and those silly, grammatical errors still haven’t
disappeared, even after 15 years in the country.” As easy as acquiring
multiple languages is for small children, the single most important
factor in language learning is the quantity of spoken language addressed
to the child. So, if you worry that you aren’t providing enough, here are
a few tricks to boost your superhero’s inherent powers.&nbsp;</p>
<ol>
  <li><b>Other kids: </b> Join (or start) a playgroup for the second
language. Children of all ages will learn from each other; there simply
are no better language teachers than other kids. An added bonus will be
that you will connect with other parents of bilingual
     children.</li>
  <li><b>Books:</b> Of course you know how vital those precious one-on-
one moments are, but remember that they can be infused with language
learning also. Books are the most effective tool for teaching language,
and so I advise all parents: “Start reading at birth and never stop!” A
good way to add to reading time (and make it really personal) is to
create a dialogue, encouraging your child's comments, responses, and
elaborations. Talk about what the characters are like and what they might
be doing next.&nbsp;</li>
  <li><b>The right stuff:</b> From books, add video, television and
games. There are a multitude of aides towards fluency. In particular,
games that use rhyming will make the most of language memory, but “I
Spy”, “Bingo” and “Memory” with picture cards will also playfully build
vocabulary.&nbsp;</li>
  <li><b>Sing and dance:</b> Children absolutely love music, but don't
rely solely on recorded music; your own singing, even if it is off-key,
will still serve to unite melody and words for your child more surely
than any professional recording ever could. Melody is also a fantastic
memory aid. Think about how much easier children learn their ABCs when
they sing them, compared to just reciting them. And, the combination of
music with movement and gestures will enliven it all -- as well as
provide a nice outlet for squirmy toddlers.</li>
  <li><b>Tap into their interests:</b> Whatever your child’s enthusiasms
may be -- whether a love of soccer, dance, or horses -- make an effort to
‘involve’ these passions in the minority language. ”My 3-year old son is
a really big “Bob de Bouwer” (Bob the Builder) fan,” says Martijn
Fredriks. “So now we always watch it in Dutch, and he’s even started
speaking in Dutch when he plays with the Bob the Builder
toys.”&nbsp;</li>
  <li><b>Be creative:</b> The trick is to give the child lots to talk
about, so draw out that conversation! Encourage them to make up their own
stories, play dress-up and pretend in the second language. Even painting,
working with sidewalk chalk, or molding clay usually creates more
vocabulary than art! Older children may enjoy calling or using a webcam
for calls overseas (one such free service is
    Skype).</li>
  <li><b>Outside the box:</b> Isabella Vellaccio, a mother in Washington
DC, who reached beyond the obvious says, “I wanted my son to hear Italian
from someone else than just me, and the playgroups were all during my
working hours.” Isabella decided to attend the church coffee after the
Italian mass on Sundays. “The older Italian parishioners were thrilled to
see him learn Italian.” Needless to say, with that much attention, and
Italian cookies, he loved it.”</li>
  <li><b>Baby sitter:</b> Find a college student who speaks the language,
or for something more consistent, try a nanny or an au-pair.</li>
  <li><b>Visits:</b> The ultimate language boost is to visit the country
where it is spoken. Total immersion for a couple of weeks has an amazing
effect. And visits from friends or family also provide a valuable
boost.</li>
  <li><b>Enthusiasm:</b> While the quantity of spoken language is the
most important factor in learning a language, the second most vital
ingredient is the amount of positive feedback the child hears. Early on,
when a child is struggling to get those first syllables out, resist the
urge to correct…it can actually inhibit language skills.&nbsp;</li>
</ol>
<p>There is a myriad of ways to ensure that foreign language time is
“quality time,” but like any other aspect of parenting: trust your
judgment, employ your imagination, and listen very, very well.

				
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