It gives me great pleasure to welcome today’s guest blogger, Amy Williams, a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, Amy enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. You can connect with Amy via Twitter. The word is yours, Amy:
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“I can’t talk with my own Grandmother,” lamented my neighbor’s teenage daughter.
After a few minutes of discussing this issue, it was evident that what separated my friend’s family wasn’t distance, time, or money. It boiled down to a language barrier- her Grandmother only spoke Spanish, but my neighbor was a third generation American citizen who was never taught Spanish at home. Sure she can spout off colors in Spanish, but she can’t carry a true conversation with her family.
My neighbor family’s struggle to encourage bilingual skills in the home is not a new phenomena. Thankfully, in today’s electronic and technology driven society, parents have access to social media and digital platforms that are able to help enhance a child’s multilingual skills. Whether a parent is concerned about increasing a child’s fluency or bridging a family connection, our love of media can help provide opportunities for our children to grow their skills that extend beyond the basic fundamentals of counting and greetings.
The Benefits Of Promoting Bilingual Skills
Recent data has revealed that within the past 30 years, people who speak a second language has been growing steadily. This is great news, because scientists and educators have been proclaiming for years that people who speak multiple languages receive many benefits and there is a strong correlation between increased intelligence and bilingual people.
Here is a quick rundown of a few benefits to promoting multilingualism in our older children:
● helps with multitasking
● encourages a good understanding and classification of words
● it is easier for bilingual individuals to find employment
● improves the ability to mentally solve problems
● multilingual people tend to have better listening skills
● learning multiple languages improves overall cognitive skills
Teaching elementary age children in school is fairly common, but as a child ages they often fail to become fluent. Older children often become disinterested in languages or they lose the skills due to a failure to practice. To achieve all the benefits listed above, it is necessary for children, even teens, to use the multiple languages on a consistent basis.
Using Social Media And Apps To Enhance Multilingual Skills
To bring this love of languages back in our children, parents need to up our game and bring the fun to our offspring. We can enhance a teen’s language development by encouraging them to use technology and avoid reading or reciting from boring books. One way we can achieve this easily, is by utilizing social media and apps.
Listed below are eight ways to harness social media platforms for multilingualism:
● Find bilingual sources for their favorite shows, music, comics, and movies.
● Use anonymous sites to talk with people using different languages or seek a pen pal who is a native speaker. Omegle is an app that pairs people up with similar interests. This can be a great tool to practice conversations and build fluency.
● Look for games or other tutor apps to help a child hone their skills.
● Use Google Translator to help a teen expand their skills.
● Look for Forums or other groups for teens to participate online with.
● Use Twitter, Snapchat, Skype, or Instagram to connect with people all over the world.
● Look for sites that help a child connect with their heritage or the language they are learning. Let them see the diverse and rich cultures to enhance their understanding.
● Parents need to closely monitor a child’s use of social media, especially if they are utilizing networking platforms. Children can learn a lot with this technology, but it can also expose them to unsavory people or ideas.
Encouraging Multilingualism In Our Children
Raising bilingual children can be overwhelming at times, but it is important for parents to remember that children need to be encouraged beyond the classroom to practice their skills. Hopefully, with a little practice and ingenuity, our children will not experience the disappointment of connecting with loved ones or interesting people because of a lack of communication. My neighbor’s family is trying to overcome their language differences one step at a time.
How do you foster bilingual skills in older children?
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Thank you, Amy, for this great post!
… and thank YOU for reading!