Menu Close

Bilingual Kids: Teaching Your Child a Second Language & The Benefits of Bilingual Brain

Traveling through the chasms in New Zealand.

{This is a guest post on raising bilingual kids by Ray Blakney, founder of LiveLingua.com who also happens to own a chocolate factory in the Philippines…YUM! Raising bilingual kids was one of my goals in parenting…unfortunately, most of my kids have not learned a second language until junior high or high school, though Judah ended up earning a minor in Spanish! This article is full of great tips on raising bilingual kids. I hope you enjoy it. This post also contains Amazon affiliate links.}

Read about the amazing and long-lasting benefits of raising bilingual kids.

Raising Bilingual Kids

Another PNW homeschooling adventure with friends.
Young children are learning and making new connections in their brain constantly.

It’s a widely known fact that a young child’s brain possesses extraordinary power when it comes to learning. Many studies have shown, although, every parent knows from their own experience how the brain of a 5-year-old can grasp almost every information presented and use it properly. Being aware of the great learning power of their children, parents that are engaged in their children’s educational process, are trying their best to help them grasp as many skills and learn as much important stuff possible while their incredible focus and long-term-memory creation capacity are in full power. 

Educationalists and neuroscientists state that a child’s brain development is quite remarkable between the ages of two and five and what has been grasped during this time is critical to their overall capacity for learning. Therefore, many parents choose to teach or help their child learn and become fluent in foreign languages, mainly because language learning skills are proven to help brain development in the most positive way possible. Although there are some huge benefits to learning foreign languages at a young age regarding overall life experience, the effects that they have on brain development are actually impressive. 

Dissecting a lamb heart for our Halloween Science party.

A language entails many elements to make a comprehensible functioning. The complex procedure includes learning and remembering words, acquiring the sounds and the writing system, pronunciation, together with the grammar. Finding the ways to put all these pieces together in expression and comprehension, activates almost all parts of the child’s brain developing white matter pathways. Ultimately, this results in the “building of the brain” which brings a lot of remarkable benefits for a child’s ability and capability to learn and gain any kind of skills in life. 

Reading at the table. My kids are book lovers, there is no doubt.

So, When and How to Start? 

Despite what was explained previously, stating that a child should start learning a foreign language at a very young age, the proper answer to “when?” is “today!” Yes, regardless, of age, learning foreign languages at any stage of life or in childhood, in general, will provide some of the known benefits. 

Children that grow in bilingual families enjoy the advantage of growing as bilingual kids, moreover, having two languages as their mother tongues. To achieve this, each parent communicates with the child in a particular language. It’s pretty amazing how a child that hears both languages from day one can develop proper pronunciation and seamlessly shift between the two languages. 

Although it seems easier for bilingual parents or families, in today’s digital era a parent can easily teach a child a foreign language and help them become fluent. There are two main approaches: teaching your child a foreign language yourself or allowing them to become fluent in a foreign language by providing them with great learning sources. 

There are sources effective for homeschooling parents that are fluent in a particular language or are interested in involving themselves in the learning process as much as the child. As language is all about communication this approach should be more efficient than any other. Either way, there are a lot of sources available that can provide good language education for the child.

Recovering from a a staph infection picked up after surgery on his g-tube site.

Language learning platforms are some of the best modern tools for learning. From downloadable pdf materials, videos and quizzes to games and engaging concepts all these varieties should be sufficient for a good start. However, the best approach is one-on-one tutoring as offered on language learning platforms such as https://www.livelingua.com/

One-on-one tutoring is an excellent approach to teaching mainly because of the custom-tailored learning process. In homeschooling, this is the main reason why children find learning to be easy and enjoyable. The one-on-one approach means the tutor or the parent can get familiar with the way the particular child learns, remembers or can be maximally engaged in the process. Moreover, each child is different and has a different pace of learning. Monitoring and proper guidance are the essential components of success in education.

When it comes to language, communication is crucial. Therefore including more people in the process is always a plus. A parent can also use good tutoring, improve foreign language skills, and teach and speak with the child alongside professional tutoring. 

Brothers at Hidden Valley Camp in Granite Falls, WA.


Bilingual Kids: The Benefits of Learning Languages

Generally, language learning is to the brain what exercise is for the body. If you happen to have your girl practicing ballet she will grow up carrying some good posture and overall good body predispositions gained at practice. It’s the same with language learning. The brain that was challenged to grasp different languages and completely different pronunciation has built some additional neuro-pathways at an early age that are very beneficial primarily for the child’s cognitive skills and further brain development. Let’s look at these benefits!

Enhanced Cognitive Abilities

Teachable moments. Are they golden opportunities or overrated?

With learning and practicing different languages, different areas in our complex brain are activated. This results in the building of gray and withe matter and the number of neural pathways that result in better brain performance. When a child learns a new language it builds a stronger brain resulting in improved cognitive abilities and accordingly:

  • improved memory
  • ability to multitask
  • fast learning
  • excellent problem-solving skills. 

All parts of development mentioned above result in higher interest in learning, thereby, excellent academic performance. Moreover, when a child finds learning and understanding easy it enjoys great satisfaction and moves forward faster. All together positively affects a child’s self-confidence which is very important in the early stage of life and can predetermine the level of self-confidence in the future.

Prolonged Brain Development for Bilingual Kids

LEGO is an excellent way for kids to learn problem solving skills.

The brain develops up until a certain point in life from which all the connections that were built previously, start to fade. The acquisition of a foreign language molds the brain and this is a complex process known as mental gymnastics. Moreover, this particular exercise affects brain regions responsible for executive functions and forming new neural connections, thus prolonging the development process further. This being said here is another conclusion:

Postponing Brain’s Natural Deterioration  

Aging is inevitable and with aging, the brain starts to lose cells and neurons and the previously built neuropathways. However, people that have started off as bilinguals and enhanced the brain capabilities further during adulthood enjoy a full-functioning brain longer than monolinguals, before it starts atrophying. Moreover, studies have shown that bilingual and multilingual people have lesser chances of developing Alzheimer’s or dementia in later years. 

Large Family Tips: How to Have an Awesome Summer

Conclusion: 

Regardless of the nature and quality of the learning environment, children are more able to learn and acquire foreign languages than adults, mainly because of the socio-psychological and neurological reasons. This is why it’s important for a parent to try and make the most of the sensitive childhood years and offer a child a chance for a better, healthier, and happier future!

Other Resources for Raising Bilingual Kids

Tortillitas Para Mama’ and Other Nursery Rhymes

Pirmeras 100 Palabras (First 100 Words)

El Perro con Sombrero: A Bilinugal Doggy Tail

2 Comments

  1. Laurie Morrison

    For 14 years I spoke French and my husband spoke English to our four children. The youngest was about 2½ when I stopped speaking French all the time, while the oldest was 14. The 2nd child, 11 years old when I stopped speaking French, has multiple language-based labels including mutism,, severe language-based learning disabilitites, and IQ <70. After that we lived an English speaking life in English Canada for 21 years until my eldest married a French woman in Québec. While we were there, I was astounded that the 2nd child,32 years old understood all the conversations in both languages and used French to communicate in stores, restaurants and conversations with our son's in-laws. About a year ago, Toastmasters International had an article in their monthly magazine about the benefits of learning and using more than one language. The article confirms what you've said Rene in your post. Kudos to Judah! It is much harder to be bilingual in a unilingual home. Thanks for writing!

  2. suzanwarnes4703

    My efforts to learn another language were fruitless. My middle child was determined to learn French from a very early age and fortunately she began to learn very early. She is now a French teacher. I am so proud of her efforts.

    I believe that children benefit from learning another language and it certainly helps if they have an active interest in learning what is presented to them.

Please share your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: