The best way to teach your child a second, third or even fourth language is to use it in your everyday activities and play

Knowing how to speak more than one language is a wonderful gift – particularly when living in such a diverse country as South Africa! But how should you go about doing this?

Well here are some tips on raising a bilingual child from Clamber Club Expert and Speech and Language Therapist, Savannah Senior:

1. Start early

Children can pick up and absorb languages astonishingly fast. Before the ages of three or four is the best time to teach your child a new language. The earlier, the better! Research shows that if we are not exposed to certain sounds early on, it becomes much harder to hear and pronounce them correctly.

2. Don’t mix languages i.e. use only one language at a time

Languages all have their own special characteristics – their own grammar, sounds, pronunciation and structure. When we mix languages, we mix all these characteristics and it will make it more difficult for your child to distinguish between them and learn them.

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You don’t need to use classroom-style teaching to learn a new language

3. Natural environments are best

You don’t need to use classroom-style teaching to learn a new language. The best way to teach your child a second, third or even fourth language is to use it in your everyday activities and play. Research has shown that children pick up languages faster in this way.

4. Fluency is key

Your child will only really master a language when they are exposed to someone who speaks fluently, on a regular basis.

5. Sometimes they will mess up!

It is expected to sometimes confuse vocabulary or word order when learning multiple languages. Remember to not make this into a deal and to remind them it is okay to make mistakes. You can also repeat the phrase or sentence back to your child so they learn the correct vocabulary and word order.

So, let’s get chatting!

Bye-bye! Totsiens! Uhambe kahle! Sala hantle! Famba kahle! Au revoir! Auf wiedersehen! Tchau tchau! Ciao ciao!…