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100 Tips & Tools to Teach Your Child a Second Language

by Staff Writers

Research done over the last decade suggests people who speak more than one language tend to outperform monolinguists. Moreso, children who grow up bilingual have an easier time in school and make better grades. Why not do your child a favor and start her early? From the earliest days to high school and continued education, there is something you can do to give your child the multilingual advantage.

Second Langage Basics

Here’s some of the leading information pertaining to second-language learning.

  1. Teaching Foreign Language Tips: This site has everything you need to know about teaching second languages, from birth to early elementary school.
     
  2. Bilinguality and Bilingualism: Understand the basics of bilinguality with this scholarly article from the University of London.
     
  3. Bilingualism’s Brain Benefits: According to this articles, bilingual speakers are better able to deal with distractions than those who speak only a single language, and that may prevent dementia later in life.
     
  4. Multilingualism: Learn the real definition of this powerful force and its history.
     
  5. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition: The aims of the journal are to promote research on the bilingual person and to encourage discussion about the field.
     
  6. Education World’s Bilingualism: Get free tools and lesson plans.
     
  7. Celebrating Bilingualism: Take a look at Spanish language in today’s English children’s books.
     
  8. Bilingualism Research Today: Get the skinny on language facts from this bilingual research lab.
     
  9. Bilingualism and the Brain: In recent years, there has been growing interest in the neurological effects of bilingualism.
     
  10. Children and Bilingualism: This article outlines the basics of teaching bilingualism.
     

Blogs

These blogs are dedicated to the art to language and the passion to teach children to explore the world.

  1. Teaching English in Korea: See how this foreign language teachers fares on a day to day basis and the tips and tools he uses in the real-world setting.
     
  2. Research as a Second Language: This blog is a little off the beaten path, but it offers great perspective for people looking to gift their children with a world view.
     
  3. Bilingual Readers: Get the latest on the best bilingual books for your kids with this awesome book blog.
     
  4. Bilingual Carnival: This is a blog discussing practical approaches and tips for parents who would like to raise their children bilingually or with exposure to two or more languages.
     
  5. Learnfast Language Learning Programs: See some of the best programs available through this tell-all blog.
     
  6. Raising Bilingual Children: This blog was created as a platform for all parents who raise their children bilingually or even multilungually.
     
  7. Benefits of Bilingualism: For 35 years, A.C.E. has been working to make the world your community by helping people and organizations around the world create new connections and build interpersonal networks with those of other language and cultural backgrounds.
     
  8. Bilingualism and Biworldism: This "learning to be" blog will teach you all about learning and teaching a second language.
     
  9. Learning Languages: Understand the languages of the world.
     
  10. Ask Manny: A Venezuelan in the Bay Area looks at his culture in the perspective of the Californian sunlight.
     

Easiest languages to Learn

Languages on this list are categorized from One to Three. Category One, according to the MLA, requires an average of 600 hours of study, and Category Two is a bit more difficult, with a required study time of 1100 hours.

  1. Spanish: Category One. The straightforward grammar might not be similar to English, but it’s usually very easy to comprehend.
     
  2. French: Category One. This language is complex, but you’ll see a lot of English cognates, which makes vocabulary easy to pick up.
     
  3. Italian: Category One. If you’ve learned Spanish or find it fun, you might want to try Italian. The two are much alike and easy to learn.
     
  4. Portuguese: Category One. You’ll likely find this language easy to learn because of it’s Latin origins. It’s also very useful if you love Latin America and would like to include Brazil on your travel map.
     
  5. German: Category One Plus. This one plus category means it’s not quite as easy as learning Spanish, but it’s not impossible. One common sentiment many experts have, is a student should travel to German to really become fluent in this more-difficult language.
     
  6. Swahili: Category Two Minus. Because of the country’s history, this African language borrows from Arabic, Persian, English and French. It is written with Latin letters, but its tone is foreign to many English speakers.
     

Hardest Languages to Learn

To learn these difficult and more complex languages, you’ll need to present 2200 hours of coursework to your kiddo.

  1. Russian: Category Two. Once you conquer reading this lanugage, you’ll notice many similarities to other Western lanugages, which makes total fluency possible.
     
  2. American Sign Language: Category Two. ASL is a manual and visual language most popular among the deaf culture.
     
  3. Hindu/Urdu: Category Two. The Hindustani language contains both Hindi and Urdu. It has a larger number of consonants and vowels than nearly any other lanugage, making distinctions between sounds difficult for English speakers.
     
  4. Modern Hebrew: Category Two. This language was brought back to life during the 19th century and is a must for biblical scholars.
     
  5. Japanese: Category Three. This language is said to be very difficult to read and write, and its lack of presence make it hard to hear.
     
  6. Chinese: Category Three. Many experts say this is the most difficult language to learn, but parents to want an Asian influence in their homes will be able to raise their child with the language close to her heart.
     
  7. Vietnamese: Cateogry Three. While there are an estimated 3 million speakers of this language in the United States, experts say acquiring this language is a slim shot. People who do learn the second language, however, will find their brain power boosted.
     
  8. Korean: Category Three. Korean uses an alphabet of 24 symbols, with 14 consonants and 10 vowels. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it also borrows 2,000 Chinese symbols, which increasres its difficulty to a Category Three.
     
  9. Arabic: Category Three. It takes a calligrapher to write the letters of this alphabet, and it’s right-to-left style makes it very foreign to English readers.
     
  10. Finnish: Category Three. Finnish doesn’t have much of a reputation in the United States, and usually only first and second-generation Americans know much about it. But if you have familial roots in Finland, you might want to work this language into your baby’s life.
     
  11. Modern Greek: Category Three. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the easiest, most learners place modern Greek at about 7 or 8. Many say speakers of Russian can find this lanugage rather easy to learn, since the two languages share some letters and grammar structures.
     

Online Dictionaries/Translators

When you need help with words, or can’t quite understand the meaning of a passage, these tools are perfect helpers.

  1. Word Reference: Supporting the translation dictionaries, we also have the Internet’s premier language forums. If you have a question about language usage, this is the way to go. Get English to French, Italian, German & Spanish translation.
     
  2. Your Dictionary: New languages and dictionaries are constantly being added to YourDictionary.com; as a result, we have the widest and deepest set of dictionaries, grammars, and other language resources on the web.
     
  3. Foreignword.com: This site is dedicated to the languages of the world, and it provieds on-line dictionaries and glossaries as well as translation tools.
     
  4. TravLang: This site teaches the very basics of over 80 languages, and offers dictionaries with thousands of words.
     
  5. FreeDict.com: This site has even the most difficult languages available for translation.
     
  6. Word2Word: Word2Word provides these dictionary links in the hope of all people developing a better understanding of others through the use of language.
     
  7. Babelfish: This is one of the most popular translation sites, especially for Spanish learners.
     
  8. Free Translation: Be careful when using this site to translate full paragraphs, because the Free Translation service translates literally and might not be accurate.
     
  9. Allwords.com: Allwords.com is an English dictionary translation for hundreds of languages.
     
  10. WorldLingo: WorldLingo provides forthcoming language translation services.
     

Bilingual Books

Most of these books are English/Spanish, but a few others are in more difficult languages. In any case, your child will find these fun books helpful when acquiring reading-language skills.

  1. A Very Smart Cat / Una gata muy inteligente: Children will love this clever feline.
     
  2. 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child: This book helps parents in both monolingual and multilingual families reach goals for raising a bilingual child.
     
  3. El patito feo / The Ugly Duckling (Bilingual Tales): Wonderful illustrations create a bilingual telling of this classic story.
     
  4. Curious George Plants a Seed Spanish/English Bilingual Edition: Curious George sees Jumpy the squirrel hoard food and does the same. Monkey see, monkey do.
     
  5. My Body/ Mi Cuerpo: Introduce your children to body parts in English and Spansih.
     
  6. Bilingual Bright Baby Colors: This picture book will increase your kiddo’s Spanish-English vocabulary.
     
  7. The Inch-High Samurai (Kodansha Bilingual Children’s Classics): One of three great books published by Kodansha’s Japanese folktales ( Grandfather Cherry-Blossom and The Moon Princess are the others), this toe-sized boy will captivate children’s hearts, and their bilingual tongue..
     
  8. The Bilingual Edge: Why, When, and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language: In The Bilingual Edge, King and Mackey tell parents what really works, and what doesn’t.
     
  9. Huevos verdes con jamón: Sam-I-Am does everything he did in this classic Dr. Seuss book, except he does it in Spanish.
     
  10. Hippocrene Children’s Illustrated Chinese (Mandarin) Dictionary:: Use this book as your child’s first foreign language dictionary (5-10 years). It has 500 entries, each with its own child-friendly picture.
     

Courses

When your multilinguist makes her way to high school, be sure to share these courses to further her language aquisition.

  1. German I: Acquire an understanding of German via actual communication.
     
  2. BBC Greek: The BBC’s Greek resource offers a quick and easy way to learn the language.
     
  3. Beginning Japanese I: Use this course’s interactive study materials to learn beginner Japanese.
     
  4. Introduction to Portuguese: Use this course to get started learning the Portuguese language.
     
  5. Learn to Speak Korean: This video course offers a fast way to learn Korean.
     
  6. Intermediate Japanese: Improve your fluency and learn Kanji characters in this course.
     
  7. BBC Portuguese: BBC’s Portuguese course offers an introduction to the language in 10 short parts.
     
  8. Farsi: Follow this course to get introductory vocabulary, sentences, and basic phrases in Farsi.
     
  9. Advanced Japanese I: With the help of this course, you’ll become an expert in Japanese.
     
  10. Learn to Speak Russian: You can improve your Russian vocabulary and grammar using these courses.
     
  11. Kenyan Sign Language: You can learn about Kenyan Sign Language using this illustrated course.
     
  12. Learning the basics of French: This beginning course offers a look at verb tenses, grammatical structures, and simple vocabulary.
     
  13. BBC Chinese: Get a taste for the Chinese language with BBC’s slideshows, quizzes, and more.
     
  14. Introduction to European and Latin American Fiction: Learn about the language and culture of Europe and Latin America through this literature course.
     
  15. Spanish I: Watch this course’s videos to learn Spanish and all about its cultural diversity throughout Latin America.
     
  16. First Year Chinese: You’ll get an understanding of the basic Chinese speaking and writing principles from this course.
     
  17. Spanish for Bilingual Students: Students who are already familiar with Spanish will learn even more with this course.
     
  18. BBC Italian: Improve your Italian skills using these resources from the BBC.
     
  19. Oral Communication in Spanish: Get an understanding of Hispanic culture with the help of this course.
     
  20. Learn to Speak Portuguese: Use these audio lessons to learn Brazilian Portuguese.
     
  21. Communicating Across Cultures: With this course, you’ll learn how to speak with people outside of your culture.
     
  22. BBC German: Learn grammar, vocabulary, and more in this German Quick Fix.
     
  23. Spanish Conversation and Composition: Improve your speaking and writing in Spanish with the help of this course.
     
  24. French I: Follow this course for an introduction to the French language and culture.
     
  25. American Sign Language: Here you’ll find lesson plans, information on deaf culture, and vocabulary.
     
  26. Learn to Speak Dutch: You’ll get access to language lessons, vocabulary, and more here.
     
  27. Chinese I (Streamlined): This collection of Chinese courses is designed for students who grew up in a Chinese speaking environment.
     
  28. BBC Spanish: Get access to Spanish TV, radio, and other resources here.
     
  29. Learning German: Take these four courses to learn German fast.
     
  30. Learn to Speak Japanese: These Japanese lessons will improve your vocabulary and pronunciation.
     
  31. Chinese I: MIT offers a full series of Chinese language courses, all guaranteed to help you acquire the language.
     
  32. BBC French: You can find resources to use for both beginner and intermediate learners.
     
  33. English Grammar in Context: Learn about speech and writing in English using this course.
     
  34. The Linguistic Study of Bilingualism: This course will help you better understand bilingualism and its effect on the human brain.
     

Textbooks

Show these online textbooks to your child to help him in in his foreign language studies.

  1. German: Make use of this Wikibook to learn German, or take the German course.
     
  2. Belarusian: This textbook teaches the Belarusian alphabet .
     
  3. Afrikaans: Check out this Wikibook to help with your acquisition of Afrikaans.
     
  4. Scottish Gaelic: Find pronunciation, sentence structure, and grammar from this book.
     
  5. Polish:This Wikibook teaches the basics of the Polish language.
     
  6. Irish: Get the luck of the Irish with this Gaelic Wikibook.
     
  7. Arabic Conquer this Arabic book to increase your bilinguality.
     
  8. Portugese: This Wikibook offers both European and Brazilian Portuguese.
     
  9. Yiddish: This book teaches conversational Yiddish, which is possibly the most important part of the language.
     
  10. French: Peruse and use this all-inclusive French Wikibook.