It is always important to us that we try to strike the best balance possible between the languages our children are exposed to at home. With me being at home with them the most, English is definitely the ‘majority’ language, and therefore we try to make the most of every minute that Papi is home to immerse everyone in Spanish. Here are some tips we hope will help others to get the language balance right in their homes:
1. Bilingual Bathtime
For those parents who get home in time for bathtime, it’s a great time to take over childcare. Not only does your partner get a well earned rest, but you can immerse your child (excuse the pun!) in some valuable language learning. More info on Bilingual Bathtime to come!
2. Bilingual Bedtime
Again, a great time for the minority-language parent to take over. Bedtime routines are full of opportunities for talk: discussing what happened during the day and, of course, bedtime stories. Perfect for language learning! More info on Bilingual Bedtime in the pipeline too!
3. Use audio CDs at bedtime and naptimes
If the minorty-language parent isn’t around at bedtime, use audiobooks in the target language so your child can relax before falling asleep. For younger babies, Lullaby CDs would be perfect.
4. Watch a DVD to wind down before bed
Too much TV is discouraged, but the value of DVDs in the minority-language is immense. Choose current programmes that feature typical characters from the other country for a bicultural experience.
5. Play songs and nursery rhymes in the car and sing, sing, sing!
A great way to keep children occupied on any journey, action songs, nursery rhymes or even current hits in the minority-language are great for adding some extra language exposure. We have some lovely ones available at The Bilingual Bookshop so why not get your hands on one now?
6. Internet radio
In the UK, internet radios are now widely available and a great resource for bringing the minority language into the home. Alternatively, listen via the web on your computer or smartphone, or download an app that has preinstalled world radio channels.
7. Reach out to relatives
Use the wonders of Skype to get in touch with relatives abroad for some valuable language immersion. Use your laptop or a smartphone app if your little one doesn’t like sitting still for long – then you are not limited to having to sit at the computer. And summer holidays are much cheaper if you can stay with them!
8. Saturday morning immersion
If one of you spends less time with the kids than the other due to work commitments, Saturday mornings are a great time for some language immersion. Otherwise known as ‘me time’ for one parent, and ‘spending time with the kids’ for the other!
9. Seek out local playgroups
It can be difficult to find local playgroups using the target language, but where they do exist they provide an invaluable resource for the community! Check with your local Children’s Centre to see if they know of, or run any, and if one doesn’t exist near you, how about setting one up?
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