Supporting Your Child Learning a Second Language


By Diana Diaz, MSW, LSW, Youth First, Inc.

There are many advantages to learning a second language. According to the U.S. Department of Education, babies raised in bilingual households demonstrate better impulse control, show increased abilities to block out irrelevant information, and have a better understanding of math concepts, critical thinking skills, and decision-making skills.

Here are 11 quick tips on how to support your child learning a second language at home:

  1. Prior to learning another language, ensure their home language is the foundation during their first year of life. A strong foundation in children’s home languages enables other language learning later in childhood.
  1. Speak only in the language you are attempting to teach while at home. Immersing your child will help them more easily recognize the language and give them confidence to try new words and phrases.
  1. Watch movies or TV shows in both languages. Many people around the world use second-language media content to help put the language they are learning into a visual and cultural context.
  1. Schedule play dates with families or relatives who speak both languages. Forming positive relationships with others is one of the best ways to learn a language.
  1. Mango Language Learning, Duolingo, and other apps are great resources for kids old enough to read. Many of these services also include movies and audio content in other languages.
  1. Have culturally and linguistically appropriate reading material available in the home and read together at least once each day. 
  1. Listen to music and sing songs in both languages. Songs are easy to remember and can help children with pronunciation and syntax.
  1. Attend cultural festivals and concerts and meet other families who speak the language of interest. Making connections between language, events, and popular culture can help both you and your child form new traditions.
  1. What you value, your children will learn to value. Help them learn the value and importance of learning another language. If the language you are attempting to teach aligns with your heritage, encourage your child to retell family stories and share your heritage with their teacher, friends, and others.
  1. Continue using the language of interest even if your children respond in English so you keep your lines of communication open.
  1. Find innovative ways to help your child maintain interest in the language by using virtual reality games such as Mondly to practice the language in life-like settings and receive real-time feedback on pronunciation.