Tips For Raising Bilingual Children

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I was born in the Caribbean to bilingual parents. English has become a commonly spoken language throughout the island of Puerto Rico where I lived for the first four years of my life. While my father’s English was a lot more polished than my mother’s English she was very proud of her accent. Spanish is my first language but ever since I could remember English was also spoken at home. I guess you can say our household was…SPANGLISH.
 
I’m so thankful to my parents for keeping my first language alive throughout my childhood. It certainly wasn’t easy for neither one of us, especially once I started school and took all English classes. Being bilingual has helped me communicate with so many people throughout my life. Knowing another language, any language, makes a big difference in the workplace. Being bilingual has has helped me grow as a professional in my career. Now-a-days, there are so many resources for parents to introduce their children to another language.
 

These are some of the ways I share the magic of being bilingual with my children.

 

SONGS

Whether you’re two or fifty-two, songs have a way of helping us learn something new. Perhaps it’s the lyrics or the melody that allow us work our memory muscles in a way that doesn’t feel like…well…work! Songs serve as a good tool to start off with basic word or sentence comprehension and structure. Songs also make learning a new language easier and most important of all (especially for little ones) FUN. Play songs throughout the day, on a daily basis, and you’ll see just how fast your children will not only learn how to say new words but use them accordingly.
 

INTERACTIVE BOOKS 

There are so many but one of my all time favorite interactive bilingual books is from the company, Lufi & Friends. With just a press of a button babies and toddlers can play and pause the Spanish songs. Each song provides lyrics and an illustration to go along with the short story. The best part is that there’s a glossary (in English and Spanish) for parents and children to review the words and practice. Books play such a powerful role in a child’s educational development. By bringing music and literature together children are able to reference the words they hear with the text they see which not only helps with speaking but with reading and writing too.
 

CLOSED CAPTIONING 

My mother has been displaying the closed captions in English for me ever since I was a little girl. I remember sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons in Spanish and following along by reading in English. It helps to translate the words on your own. It was challenging to keep up at first but eventually I was able to follow along and translate from one language to the other. 
 

LABELS 

If you walk into a daycare or any elementary class you’ll probably notice that just about every area and item is labeled. Labels aid teachers expose students to unfamiliar words as well as provide an organizational structure so children know what goes where. This school setting method also helps at home when trying to learn a new language. I like to use labels around the house and whenever we utilize an object, I say the word in both English and Spanish then have my children repeat it. For example; if my three year old wants a book. He naturally asks for it in English then I show him the label and have him say it in Spanish too. 
 

CONVERSATION

The best way to truly learn a new language is to practice and the best way to practice is by having a conversation with someone else. Often times people hold back from attempting to speak a different language because they don’t feel comfortable speaking it in public. The key is to try. I’ve been speaking Spanish and English all my life and still…I make mistakes in both languages every now and then. So step out of your comfort zone and if learning a new language is something you want to go then go for it. It’ll open your mind to a whole new world!
 
If you know a second or third language, even if it’s just the basics, embrace it. Knowledge is power. The more you know the more possibilities there are. 
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Natyia Jimenez was born in La Isla Del Encanto Puerto Rico and grew up in Orlando, Florida. She’s lived in several cities through South Florida but has spent the last seven years in Broward County. Natyia is a happy wife and proud mother of two. During the day she works from home with her toddler and by night, once the kids are asleep, she creates content for her bilingual blog and YouTube channel. DIMELO MAMI is her passion project and her dream team is made up of her mom and daughter. She enjoys sharing her thoughts and experiences with others. Natyia’s favorite part about blogging and creating videos is capturing memories to look back on and pass onto her children.

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