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Teaching a Second Language While the Toddler is Still Developing the Primary Language

May 16, 2013:

Most developed countries comprise of people from different cultures. For example, in United States one can see people of different races living in one neighborhood. New York City has people from all around the world. With such a diverse culture in the city, there is no doubt that many households speak a different language at home. That is, their native language is different from English.

In such households and other multi-cultural environments we see that children are able to understand more than one language at a given time. A child in pre-school will understand what the teacher has to say in English because his father talks to him in English at home. However, as soon as the mother comes to pick him up he greets her in German.

Not long ago it was thought that children should not be burdened with many different learning skills as they are small and will not be able to comprehend the complexity of the mind. This concept has changed over the years. Psychologists have proved that children are able to learn faster and are much better at learning than average adults. The reason behind this is very simple. A child is not just developing physically as he or she grows older. The child develops mentally also.

In the first few years of life, the part of the brain that handles speech is still being developed, so the child does not have much difficulty in learning the language. The language continues to improve as the child grows.
Some parents believe that teaching two languages at the same time will lead to speech delays. This however is not the case. Parents who do not speak English at home do not have to worry about the child’s ability to develop English Language in the early school years. Children tend to develop the second language without much effort. It is however important to remember they are children and cannot learn the entire language in one month.

It takes time and patience to develop the second language if the child has not been exposed to it since birth or during the first year. Children with parents from two different cultures are at an advantage when it comes to developing a second language at an early age.

Over the years as the child learns to read and write parents can introduce the child to books and reading material for the second language. This way the child will not only be able to speak the second language but will also have the ability to read and write the language.

This ability to comprehend two different languages will expand the opportunities that are available for the child to grow. For example, companies that are global transfer employees from one country to another all the time. If your child will work in such a company in the future, he will have the ability to easily adjust in another country if he can understand the language of that country.