Experts are now beginning to understand the value of foreign language learning for young children. Beyond the obvious benefits of communication and global perspective, studies have indicated that bilingual children score better on standardized tests and are better problem-solvers than their monolingual peers. Fortunately for parents and educators, early childhood is the easiest time to learn a foreign language. There are several steps you can take to help your young child grasp the basics of a second language, broadening his or her world in a fun and educational way.
Learn a little of the language yourself, if you don't already know it. Children learn by imitating authority figures -- by using the target language yourself, you create a pattern of success for your child.
Begin teaching your child as early as possible. Children's unique ability for internalizing language decreases over time. Although some parents worry that introducing multiple languages to a young child can create confusion, studies have shown that children can identify and compartmentalize separate languages by the age of 3.
Make language learning organic. Rather than "teaching" your child, allow the process to occur naturally, in the same manner that the child learns his or her native language. Allow your child to hear and imitate speech patterns in the target language by playing television or radio programs. If you speak the language yourself, speak to your child often.
Teach vocabulary simultaneously in both languages. Avoid the temptation to view foreign language learning as distinct from native language learning. Any time you introduce a new word or concept to your child, make sure to name it in both languages.