This is a hot trend and experts agree that if you want your baby to be bi-lingual, he/she must be exposed to a foreign language. Learning a foreign language is not only highly practical (depending on which one you learn), but is also supposed to help develop brains and enhance cognitive development.
As someone who speaks two other languages (besides English) fluently, I have to agree. If you want your child to be fluent, the time to start is while they are still in the cradle. Foreign language is incredibly easy to learn the earlier you start. It helps with thinking skills and language skills. But are products that are designed to teach your baby foreign languages all that they are cracked up to be?
My Little Research Project
I decided to do a google search to find as many products that are geared towards teaching babies a foreign language to see what kinds of claims they made. From flash cards that sell for a few dollars to audio and DVD programs that sell for hundreds of dollars, I found it all. (At least I think I did.)
Some programs tout that using their product will just make for a brainier baby. The implication is that your child will learn a foreign language. . .although they never actually claim that this will happen. Others though, say that using their products will have your child speaking in a foreign language just like a native speaker! I have my doubts. . .it took me several years and/or immersion to speak like a native speaker.
Because we live in a largely Hispanic area, my children are accustomed to hearing Spanish spoken constantly. In fact, when we take our kids to the park, most of their peers communicate in Spanish rather than English. I don’t want to say that no one speaks English–that’s not true. But Spanish is the predominant language and my kids hear it spoken by native speakers all the time.
Out of my 5 children, my oldest two understand Spanish moderately well. I assume this is from the park and what they pick up at home. I never really spoke to them in Spanish when they were babies. (I honestly don’t know what I was thinking.) With my last three children though, I’ve made a concerted effort to speak in Spanish to them. The result is that all three girls understand Spanish fairly well. The twins do not say too much yet, but my three year old will speak in Spanish and English interchangeably. She’s not talking up a storm in Spanish but she knows all of her colors, numbers, basic phrases like ‘help me’, or ’I want’, etc. She responds to commands and if we all sit together all three of them will respond appropriately.
So is it worth the money to spend on products designed to teach your baby a foreign langue? Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell you what types of things that you could buy to help your baby and what types of things are better to pass on! Have any ideas? Make sure and leave a comment!