It might surprise some people to know that I have quite a few clients under the age of 2 years old. Many people have asked me, what’s the benefit of teaching a foreign language to a child before they can even speak their own language?
We introduce our children to language before they are even born. Their hearing develops in utero and are born with the ability to recognize the sound of their mother. Children might not begin speaking for a year or so, but their first words come from listening constantly to the sounds around them.
Children begin to recognize the differences between sounds we make with our mouths with sounds we use for speech around 9 months old. They then begin using these sounds to string together words that sound like the words Mommy says.
Beginning with a child at or before this age means the English phonemes find their way into their first words. They mimic and practice and their vocal chords strengthen.
Many of my clients hope for their child that they will develop real, accent-less English. My single biggest piece of advice to parents that want this is: TALK TO THEM. Constantly. Let them hear Mommy making the sounds. A child’s most influential teacher is their mother.
But for many of my clients, they themselves don’t have the language skill they hope for their child, so how can they possibly teach them? Balderdash, is what I say to that. Any parent that has a strong desire will find a way. The English doesn’t have to be perfect or deep in level. Learn a few songs, a few commands. Repeat them often! Watch cartoons and educational programming. Do it often! Real learning comes from constant repetition. Result with infants never come fast. But they come to those who are vigilant.
This video series, Baby Brain Play is a game I play with my own child. It is a chance for us to “exercise” or for Russians “massage” while engaging them in song. These are classic English children’s songs that can be repeated up into their toddler years.