Exploring the Benefits of Raising Multilingual Kids

A young girl with several national flags of different countries

Let’s explore a journey that has the power to transform your child’s world—learning not one, but multiple different languages. By introducing your child to new languages, you’re not just expanding their vocabulary; you’re opening their minds to a vast expanse of diverse cultures, ideas, and perspectives. It’s about equipping them with the tools to thrive in a global, multilingual society, enhancing their cognitive abilities, and fostering empathy towards others. And the best part? You don’t need to be multilingual yourself to be a tremendous support for your child on this exciting path, and experience the benefits of raising multilingual kids.

Early Language Learning – The Optimal Window to Acquire the Benefits of Raising Multilingual Kids

Did you know that there is a critical period where acquiring native-like pronunciation is easier? It is from birth to seven years old. 

This is a period in early childhood when the brain is exceptionally receptive to language acquisition. It’s a time when the neural pathways related to language are more flexible and open to new sounds, structures, and vocabularies.

During this window, children have a remarkable ability to absorb multiple languages with ease and near-native proficiency. Unlike adults, young children can pick up nuances in pronunciation and grammar without explicit instruction, thanks to their brain’s natural plasticity. This is why early childhood is considered the prime time to introduce a new language.

By starting to learn a language early, your child taps into a powerful, natural capacity they have—an ability that diminishes as they grow older. It’s an opportunity to give them a lifelong gift, one that enriches not just their minds but their hearts, opening doors to new cultures, new ways of thinking, and a broader understanding of the world. The benefits of raising multilingual kids are vast.

Bilingual vs Multilingual

The terms “bilingual” and “multilingual” both refer to the ability to communicate in more than one language, but there’s a subtle difference between the two.

  • Bilingual refers to someone who has proficiency in two languages. It means the person can speak, read, write, and understand two languages at a level that allows them to communicate effectively in both.
  • Multilingual, on the other hand, extends beyond that, referring to someone who is proficient in more than two languages. A multilingual person can communicate effectively in three, four, or even more languages.

In essence, all multilingual people are bilingual, but not all bilingual people are multilingual. The ability to switch between multiple languages is a valuable skill, offering cognitive, social, and professional benefits, regardless of whether someone is bilingual or multilingual.

How Your Child Can Benefit from Speaking Multiple Languages

When your child learns a new language, it opens up a universe of benefits that touch every aspect of their development and future. Let’s dive into the benefits of raising multilingual kids and the opportunities they unlock for your child.

Cognitive Development

Firstly, learning a new language significantly boosts cognitive abilities. Children who are bilingual or multilingual tend to have better problem-solving skills, enhanced memory, and greater mental flexibility. 

This cognitive advantage translates into higher academic achievement across various subjects, not just language arts.

Academic Performance

Children who learn additional languages often excel academically. They display advanced reading and writing skills, even in their native language. 

This enhanced literacy can help them perform better at school, including in subjects like maths and science. The critical thinking and analytical skills honed through language learning enable them to grasp complex concepts more readily.

Social and Emotional Benefits

The journey of learning a new language is also a voyage into new cultures. This exposure broadens children’s perspectives, fostering empathy and an appreciation for diversity. It equips them with the social skills to communicate and connect with people from different backgrounds, enhancing their emotional intelligence. 

These skills are invaluable in our increasingly globalised world, where understanding and respecting cultural differences are key to successful interpersonal relationships.

Future Career Opportunities

In terms of career prospects, bilingual or multilingual individuals stand out in the job market. They have access to a wider range of opportunities in sectors such as international business, diplomacy, education, and beyond. 

Fluency in multiple languages is a highly sought-after skill that can lead to higher earning potential and a significant competitive advantage in careers that require international communication and cultural sensitivity. It’s about equipping your child with the skills for the jobs of tomorrow—many of which we can only imagine today.

Personal Growth and Fulfilment

Beyond the tangible benefits, learning a new language is a deeply enriching personal experience. It can enhance your child’s sense of identity, open up opportunities for travel and exploration, and foster a lifelong love of learning. The joy of being able to communicate in another language, to understand and be understood, is profoundly satisfying and builds confidence in their abilities.

Learning multiple languages

Tips for Raising a Multilingual Child–Even with a Busy Schedule!

The good news is that there are several effective ways to integrate language learning into a  busy schedule without it feeling like an added burden. Here are some tips that can help:

Integrating Language into Everyday Life

Incorporate Language into Daily Routines: You can introduce the new language during regular activities. For example, while having breakfast, you could teach them words for different foods, or during bath time, name body parts. It’s about finding those small moments throughout the day for language exposure.

Use Technology Wisely: There are numerous apps and online resources designed for children to learn languages in a fun and interactive way. Even just 10-15 minutes a day can make a significant difference. Look for ones with games, songs, and stories in the target language.

Language Through Play: Children learn best through play. You could play music, sing songs, or watch cartoons in the new language. These activities don’t require active teaching but naturally immerse your child in the language.

Label Your Home: Putting labels on everyday objects around your house can be a great way to learn new vocabulary without extra effort. Seeing these words daily helps reinforce their memory.

Making Language Learning Fun and Social

Read Together: Spend some time reading books in the target language. If they’re very young, picture books are great. This not only helps with language learning but also is a wonderful way for you to bond.

Language Learning Buddy: If possible, team up with another parent who wants their child to learn the same language. You can arrange playdates where the children get to practise the language together, making it a social and fun experience.

Cultural Exposure: Engage with the culture related to the language. This could be cooking a meal from that country or celebrating one of their holidays. It makes the language learning process more meaningful and exciting.

Be Patient and Positive: Celebrate small victories and progress. Language learning is a journey, and every new word or phrase they learn is a step forward. Your enthusiasm and support are key to keeping them motivated.

Remember, the goal is to make language learning a natural and enjoyable part of your child’s life. It doesn’t have to be about carving out large chunks of time but rather integrating it seamlessly into what you’re already doing.

Make learning languages in your home easy with daily exposure and practice

How a Non-Native Speaking Parent Can Help Their Child learn a New Language

You don’t need to be a native speaker or even fluent in a language to support your child’s learning journey effectively. Here are some specific tips tailored for non-native speakers:

Accessible Resources and Tools

Resources Designed for Children: Look for language learning materials specifically designed for young learners, such as apps, games, interactive websites, and children’s TV shows or YouTube channels in the target language. These resources are crafted to make learning engaging and accessible, even for parents who aren’t fluent.

Bilingual Books and Stories: Invest in bilingual books where the story is presented in both your native language and the target language. Reading these stories together allows you to understand the content and discuss it with your child in both languages, enhancing comprehension and vocabulary.

Language Learning Apps for Parents: Consider using language learning apps yourself, dedicating a few minutes each day to learn the basics. This not only helps you assist your child better but also demonstrates your commitment to learning, which can be a huge motivational boost for them.

Immersive and Supportive Environment

Music and Songs: Songs are a fantastic way to absorb a new language, thanks to their repetitive and catchy nature. Play music in the target language at home or in the car, and sing along with your child. It’s fun, and you’ll both pick up new words and phrases without even realising it.

Use Technology: Smart speakers and voice-activated devices can be set to the target language. Encourage your child to use simple voice commands, helping them practise speaking and listening skills.

Remember, your role as a supportive and enthusiastic parent is key to your child’s success in learning a new language. Showing interest, celebrating progress, and creating a positive language learning environment at home are just as important as direct teaching. With just a little bit of consistent effort you will be reaping the rewards and benefits of raising multilingual kids soon enough!

Language Learning with Shichida Australia

In honour of Professor Makato Shichida, the founder of the Shichida method, each class from baby to primary starts with the ‘Hello song’ and ends with the ‘Goodbye song’ – both sung in Japanese. Introducing language in a fun and interactive way sets the tone and creates a positive and welcoming atmosphere which helps our students feel comfortable and engaged. 

Throughout the classes there is a strong emphasis on the appreciation of different cultures and places around the world. At Primary level our students learn basic phrases in several languages, including Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, French, Italian, Spanish and German.

Embrace our whole brain teaching method and book your trial class today. 

Book a Trial Class

Join us for an engaging and interactive trial class, and see why so many people choose the Shichida method of education for their children.

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