Multilingualism for children: how it works

Multilingualism in children: how it works

Children learn languages ​​intuitively, even several at the same time. So the best conditions for learning different languages ​​early on? Yes and no. It depends "How" on. What to look for in multilingual education.

Hello big world: Learning languages ​​also means getting closer to other cultures.

Scientific evidence shows that multilingualism is generally not a problem for people. In principle, the language learning ability is geared towards this. The majority of the world’s population grows up multilingual, whereas monolingualism is more of a European phenomenon. (Read more: Multilingualism in children and adults)

While children in this country only learned a foreign language in secondary school for a long time, a trend towards multilingual education of very small children has developed in recent years. Part of a funding craze? Perhaps if parents themselves are not native speakers and / or have their children drumming vocabulary and grammar.

But if you do it right, there are many advantages to learning multiple languages ​​in early childhood:

Contents of this article:

1. Advantages of multilingual education – and great respect!

  • Learning other languages ​​is easier: "Children raised multilingual later learn other foreign languages ​​more easily because they develop a feeling for the systematic behind a language early on", Nicola Küpelikilinc, psychologist and specialist for language support of the city of Hanau told Spiegel Online.
  • Creativity, flexibility and empathy: In addition, says Küpelikilinc, their communicative skills are usually more pronounced and they can react more creatively to their everyday lives. There are also indications that multilingual children can process information more quickly and in a more targeted manner. And: you could put yourself in a better position than other children of the same age who only speak one language.
  • Intercultural competences: Foreign languages ​​naturally expand the number of people with whom you can speak. By engaging and appreciating other languages, interest in other cultures can also be promoted – a step towards an open and tolerant society.

ATTENTION: It remains important that nothing is forced on the child. Learning stress can lead to negative associations with the language – As a result, children can lose motivation and enjoyment in the long term.

2. Language development in children – we learn best at this age

Language development in children is timed very different. A few children can speak the first words clearly at ten months, others only at 20 or 30 months. This is also why there is no scientifically proven optimal period in which children learn foreign languages ​​particularly well.

But: The ability to acquire a language as a mother tongue changes significantly from the third to fourth year of life and continues to decrease sharply from around seven years.

Again, it is not clearly proven that adults always learn poorer languages ​​than children. You learn differently. Children learn in a playful way and by copying and trying out, whereas adults learn more systematically. However, unlike adult learners, children who learn another language early can achieve a mother tongue level in terms of accent, pronunciation and grammar. This is rarely the case in adults.

3. Raise children multilingual? Important framework conditions:

  • Totally natural: Learning languages ​​is inherent in children, they bring the tools with them to the world. Over time, they learn to deal with words, sentences and sentence structure in a very natural and playful way. You don’t have to cram vocabulary or systematically learn grammar.
  • Close relationship between speaker and child: Children need role models with whom direct and intensive communication is possible. A trusted caregiver is ideal for this because a child listens to them and talks about topics that are important to them.
  • Native speaker: If your child is to grow up multilingual, it is important that the language of the "speaker" is very well mastered (if you are not a native speaker yourself, relatives such as grandma and grandpa, educators or teachers can teach your child a foreign language).
  • Fixed language rules: Especially in the first four to five years of life, it is beneficial if the caregiver speaks constantly in one language, for example mom German and dad Turkish. The division into a family and an environmental language (day care center, school) can also help.
  • Offer incentives: Children learn most successfully when they have (playful) experiences with all their senses. A few Tipps:
  • Talk about everyday life, things in the household, about your experiences, love, your anger. A colorful and diverse language has a positive influence on vocabulary and grammar.
  • Watch foreign language films or books, or listen to music and radio plays.
  • Finger games, rhymes and poems are also good for getting in touch with foreign languages ​​in a playful way.
  • Invest time: A child does not automatically learn a second language just because it is spoken from time to time. Among other things, the temporal intensity plays an important role. If a child is supposed to learn another language on the side, it must hear it as often as possible in their environment.
  • Balance: The frequency and duration with which the child comes into contact with the different languages ​​- for example, inside and outside the family – should be as balanced as possible.
  • Equality for all languages: All languages ​​and the associated cultures should receive the same appreciation. One language / culture is not rated better or worse than another. This enables the children to build a positive relationship with the languages.
  • Keep going: Children can completely unlearn languages ​​that they have once learned if they have no way of using them.
  • Multilingualism in kindergarten – what you should pay attention to:

    Bilingual or multilingual day-care centers offer an opportunity to educate children multilingual. In addition to German, there is one or more other languages ​​spoken by the educators. Multilingual children can use and deepen their family languages ​​in these daycare centers, but children without family languages ​​other than German can also learn different languages.

    You should pay attention to this if you are looking for a multilingual daycare center for your child:

    • Fixed language rules, how "one person – one language". In many multilingual daycare centers, the respective educators constantly speak in one language with the children.
    • Educators should Native speaker his.
    • The professionals who speak the foreign languages ​​with the children should be in the respective groups permanent educators be so that the children can build a close relationship with them.
    • Enough multilingual incentives at different levels: singing, literature and music, but also round tables where the children can try out the languages.

    Note: Foreign language courses, For example, those that take place once a week in the daycare make less sense. The children are usually taught by an external teacher with whom they have no intensive relationship. They come into contact with the language only selectively during the lesson and not continuously in their day-to-day life in daycare.

    Multilingualism at school – what you should pay attention to:

    So that the child does not forget the language again, it helps a lot if it continuously hears and speaks it. If the offspring has attended a bilingual or multilingual kindergarten, a visit to a multilingual school can be useful in order to further consolidate their language skills.

    Whole school hours are held there in different subjects in different languages ​​and not – as is often the case in "normal" schools – only in English classes. In this way, the children can come into contact with the foreign languages ​​in various contexts and immerse themselves fully in them. "One Immersion" this approach is called. The same applies here as in kindergarten: Pay attention to one comprehensive concept and native speakers, who are permanent caregivers.

    Our conclusion: multilingualism yes, but please with fun!

    Basically, childhood is a wonderful time to learn foreign languages. The most important thing, however, remains that children like to speak the different languages ​​and integrate them into their everyday life as effortlessly as possible. Wrong parents’ ambitions that lead to pressure and stress should be avoided.

    This is definitely fun :-)

    It’s also fun:

    Learn with scoyo! In the scoyo learning world, children can playfully understand and practice the school material in exciting learning adventures. The tasks for students in grades 1-7 are tailored to the curricula of the federal states. Try it out here for free

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    Christina Cherry
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