Expose them to other languages as infants – songs, stories, nursery rhymes in other languages, in audio format. Long before they learn to speak, babies’ babbling is their attempt to reproduce the sounds they hear around them.
Learn with them – from stories, pick out key words that you could incorporate into your everyday language. Start using them – a lot! Make them the normal way you say that thing. Don’t worry that you might be ‘corrupting’ their English (or any other dominant community language). If you observe fluent bilingual children and adults, this is what they do-it’s called translanguaging.
Long before they learn to speak, babies’ babbling is their attempt to reproduce the sounds they hear around them.
Model curiosity and a love of languages – one of the best ways of doing this is through shared reading. There is nothing more precious than having your child snuggled on your lap as you share a book together, regardless of whether it’s a print book or an eBook.
The best way to help children develop a love of reading is to make them feel loved while they are learning to read.
So if you haven’t already, grab a book, put your child on your lap, and read with them today. It’s one of the best gifts you’ll ever give them.
Dr Kathryn Macfarlane is an Applied Linguist whose award-winning research and work in the field of Languages and Languages education has spanned thirty years and multiple continents. Now based in Kerikeri in New Zealand’s far north, she launched Reading’s a Breeze! Ltd in 2020, an independent publishing company dedicated to producing multilingual, read-aloud eBooks. Designed to help learners young and old develop vocabulary and language awareness, these eBooks include fun interactive learning activities and are currently available in English, French, Italian, Mandarin, Spanish and multilingual versions. German, Indonesian, Japanese and te reo Māori will be added in late 2021-early 2022. Visit the Reading’s a Breeze! website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.