New Year's Resolutions to Promote Bilingualism at Home
Lots of excitement comes with the new year, one of them being the opportunity to start fresh and set resolutions that align with your goals for the new year. For bilingual families who hope to continue prioritizing language learning and reinforcing their children's second language, this is the perfect time to reevaluate your current methods as well as how you can improve your child’s daily exposure for optimal language acquisition! We’ve found that setting realistic and concrete daily goals helps make these goals more attainable and improve accountability.
As moms who know what busy days look like, we want to share a new year's resolutions list we’ve created for both ourselves and other moms like us who just want a realistic checklist that is effective and doable.
Here’s a simple daily list of five goals you can set for yourself in 2024 to propel your child’s bilingualism journey forward. Remember, language learning should be fun and realistic for your family, so it’s important to adjust it as needed to accommodate your own family’s schedule, needs and bandwidth.
1) Read your child three books. This can be done either in one sitting or spread out throughout the day! Choosing key moments in your daily routine is a great way to remember to pick a book and read it with your child. Some of our personal favorite moments to designate as “reading time” are as an afternoon activity during playtime and during bedtime. If you’re teaching your child Spanish, Binibi’s bilingual children’s books are perfect for practicing your child’s second language in an exciting and engaging way. You can even hand your child one of Binibi’s sound books to read independently and explore on their own as they enjoy the fun sounds. Just listening to the Spanish kids' songs in our musical books is a great way to increase Spanish exposure as the rhyme and repetition helps children grasp new vocabulary.
2) Go beyond the words in a book and start a dialogue with your child as you read. During your reading sessions with your child, one of the best things you can do to reinforce target vocabulary and help your child learn and remember new words is having a dialogue as you read together, using elements of the book to spark conversation and go beyond the words in a book. This day-to-day interaction helps solidify the meaning of new words in the second language and give your child more context for him or her to remember. Discussing the images in a book or pointing different things out to your child than what’s written in the pages is a great tactic to engage your child and practice language. The illustrations in Binibi’s bilingual books for kids were specifically designed with elaborate details to facilitate this conversation between parent and child. You can even find educational elements throughout our books to teach your child skills like counting!
3) Sing two songs a day in your target language. This is one of our favorite tips! Music is such an easy and fun way to increase your child’s exposure in their second language without putting pressure on them to be learning and memorizing. The rhyming and rhythmic structure naturally found in songs or nursery rhymes is extremely beneficial in helping kids grasp new vocabulary more effectively. Picking songs that your child already loves in their strong language is a great way to get them interested in singing it in their second language and giving them a reference point to learn new words’ meanings. Plus, you can play a song wherever you are like in the car, kitchen or park. Any place will do! Binibi’s musical books that feature nursery rhymes in Spanish voiced by hispanic artists, are a great language learning tool that you can use to play popular Spanish songs that your child loves in English!
4) Pick an activity to do in your target language. This is another great way to remind yourself to speak in the target language or practice it with your child. There’s so many different activities you can do in the target language to further immerse them in the language. One of the benefits of this particular resolution is that if you don’t speak the target language fluently, you can prepare for the activity ahead of time so you can expose your child to new vocabulary. Whether it’s making flashcards for yourself, learning a few new words, or labeling things in your house, planning activities in advance can be a helpful way to get involved in their learning. Some of our favorite target language activities are building puzzles as you discuss puzzle parts and images, reading bilingual children’s sound books, doing pretend play, watching a movie or show in the target language, or having playdate with a native speaker. These are just a few of the endless activity options!
5) Learn one new word that you can teach your child. One of the best parts about teaching your child a second language that you’re not fluent in is that you’re bound to learn some words yourself! Making the effort to learn at least one new word a day is an amazing way to support your child in their learning journey by exposing them to new vocabulary and practicing new words during day-to-day activities. It’s always a good idea to prioritize learning words for items that your child is particularly interested in to grab their attention and give them the opportunity to use them as often as possible. If you find that learning a new word a day is difficult for you, try one new word every few days or so!
As you kick off your goals for the new year, don't forget to include bilingualism and prioritize language learning! Holding yourself accountable to a few simple goals each day can make a world of difference in your bilingualism journey! Though it may seem like small steps, they make a big impact and continue to provide you and your child quality language exposure. Setting realistic, attainable language goals can make language practice less overwhelming and motivate you to take small steps that eventually add up. We hope this list makes it a little easier to keep language practice present and effective at home. You got this!