- The number of U.S. residents who speak a language other than English at home is on the rise
- The earlier children are exposed to a second language, the easier it is for them to pick it up
- Face-to-face language exposure as well as music or DVDs can help a child learn a new language
(Parenting)Simone's mom reads, sings and talks to him in French. In fact, Melissa Da, a French-American from Baltimore, only speaks her native language to the 2 1/2-year-old.
Start small by introducing books, games, music and DVDs in the second language. Until recently, scientists thought language acquisition relied on face-to-face communication.
In addition to using foreign language gear, hire a babysitter who speaks another tongue, secure bilingual daycare or arrange playdates with bilingual families. Benton's ex-husband worked in Spanish-speaking communities, so he asked clients for sitter recommendations. For other parents, finding bilingual childcare may require agency help. Ghurani's daughter attends a Montessori school that teaches basic Spanish.
Go all the way by speaking only that language at home. For many families, in-home immersion translates to one parent speaking in the second language and the other parent speaking English. The back-and-forth banter doesn't trip up tots, says Comeau, who's raising her 16-month-old son to be bilingual. Da's son, Simon, for example, asks his mom for watermelon in French but addresses his dad in English. For extra support, reach out to relatives. Ghurani asks extended family to speak only in Arabic to Delila.