Boy looking at paper plane cartoon

How to help children learn a second language

When we compare bilingual and monolingual children, those exposed to bilingualism between the ages of 5 and 10 get better grades at school. Learning a second language helps children be more attentive, avoid distractions, and make better decisions.

However, before we present ideas on how to help children learn a second language, we want to share with parents the importance of encouraging children to learn a foreign language. Magnetic resonance imaging shows that activity in the pre-frontal cortex is much higher in bilingual children. And this translates into improved cognitive skills, self-regulation of emotions, memory, and analysis.

How to help children learn a second language:

  1. Encourage children to play and sing, read books, and watch educational programs and movies in both languages. If parents read this a few decades ago, it would make them wonder where to find all these resources. But today, many bilingual apps that combine learning with fun are available.
  2. Incentivize children to communicate in the target language with family members. Traveling to a country where the language is predominant is also beneficial.
  3. Create playgroups with bilingual children. There is no better language teacher than other children. Through play and friendship, they learn much faster.
  4. Be creative. As with everything related to education, the key is to make it fun. Encourage your child to make up stories and play in the other language. Playing and creating generates more vocabulary.
Boy and paper airplane cartoon

When can you start? According to experts, it is best to start from birth as it takes advantage of the brain’s plasticity. But even when they are older, between the ages of 2 and 7, their brain can process two languages without problems.

Remember that children are sponges and naturally learn quickly to imitate words and practice. Another advantage is that they are not prejudiced or embarrassed like adults. And above all, they are not afraid of making mistakes. Take advantage of all these benefits to cultivate a second language.

At ItalianLg, we focus on teaching Italian. So, if you’re interested in helping your child learn Italian, platforms with language tutors for children will be helpful. Click here to read more.

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  1. Thank you for this interesting article on how children can learn a second language. The traditional tips I have known for learning any language were reading, writing, and speaking the language. I liked the recommendations included here. I think it makes sense when you advise parents to begin early. As the old saying goes, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Haha.

  2. I completely agree with the benefits that learning a second language can bring to children. It’s great to see more and more parents recognizing the importance of encouraging their children to learn a foreign language.
    One thing that stood out to me in this article was the suggestion to create playgroups with bilingual children. It’s a fantastic idea because children are often more comfortable speaking and practicing with peers at the same level as them. It also creates a fun and engaging learning environment.

    1. Thanks for your input. Children will reap the benefits of learning a second language further on in life. But it’s parents that create opportunities for children to learn. So, this is timely advice for parents.

  3. I agree that children learning another language does help them in school. One of my daughters has her children in a school where they learn Latin. These kids are excited about Latin, and the younger children couldn’t wait until they were old enough to join the Latin class.
    My other daughter enrolled her two kids in a private International school when they were 3. They chose to have them be in the French immersion program. In every class, teachers speak French, and the students are required to respond in French. They are both good students now. I really wish that I had taken the time to learn a 2nd language when I was younger.

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