“Children learn to talk as easy as they learn to walk”, says veteran educator Patricia Koh.
“In fact, they are born with the ability to learn languages as soon as they are born into this world. No matter what language you speak, children will learn languages in three simple steps.”
STEP 1: HEAR THE SOUNDS
Your child is capable of hearing and making all the sounds in all the languages in the world.
What you must do Speak in the language you are most comfortable with every day and connect with her using eye contact so that she can see your lips moving and see the sparkle in your eyes.
Do not use baby-talk or use two languages in one sitting.
STEP 2: UNDERSTAND THE MEANING
Children are capable of grasping new concepts very quickly and they have a powerful memory to understand, remember and recall information.
What you must do In order for your child to grasp and understand the meaning of each spoken word, be sure to have a picture, an object or an experience that she can remember.
Do not pressure your child to learn words using the traditional approach of flash cards or pointing to printed words, which are too abstract and meaningless.
STEP 3: SPEAK THE LANGUAGE
Children will only speak the language when they are most comfortable with you and when they need to express their feelings or their needs.
What you must do Be natural in the way you use different languages at home. Find the right moments to speak the language you plan to introduce to her. Make it fun through a simple rhyme, an action song, a fun game or just having a chat with your little one to stretch and exercise her linguistic abilities.
Do not expect her to respond immediately. Languages are “caught”, not “taught”. So, keep on doing what you do without the pressure of measuring your child’s success based on your standards or expectations. You will be pleasantly surprise at her ability to say the things you have not taught. For instance, when I asked my granddaughter of 16 months if she was teething, she nonchalantly replied: “Kind of.”