It is understandable that many families are interested in their children learning more than one language. After all we all live in an increasingly global world.
Growing up in a bilingual family was really exciting for me, it taught me a lot about languages and about cultural differences. I remember my self as a kid feeling proud and happy about my three language skills (Arabic, English and Russian). It really boosted my confidence, although from my experience in speaking three different languages, no matter how good you are in any language it is not easy to maintain the skill without continuous practice.
As we all know we are now more connected to the world than ever before, hence there has come a time where parents have more of a need and a desire for their children to learn more than one language. There are so many benefits of knowing more than one language such as; exposure to other cultures, improving cognitive skills and overall brain function. Children who speak more than one language are often more creative, better multitaskers and have sharper memories according to researchers. And of course subsequently have improved chances of finding a better job, later in life.
Children at a young age have the capacity to absorb and develop languages quickly. Parents who give their children the opportunity of learning an additional language in school can help their children on this journey in many ways, including introducing them to the targeted language media such as cartoons, music or engaging them with native speakers of that specific language. Parents who are aware of the language themselves can help by reading books and conversing with their child in the language.
As teachers we have so many theories we can refer to when teaching, from Piaget to Vygotsky, we can agree or disagree on some of these and study how to apply some of these theories for learners. We read, study and plan different strategies to teach languages, but when we stand in the classroom we get to know each individual child first and understand how they learn differently, what makes them smile during the lesson and what grabs their interest and attention and this allows us to teach each child with an approach that suits them best.
My message to all the parents who are giving their children the chance of learning a second or maybe a third or even a fourth language is that the more experience and practice the child gets, the stronger they will be in the language. Remember the opportunity you are giving your child in learning other languages is a gift that your child will cherish forever.