Fun Ways to Engage Your Family in Bilingual and Multilingual Literacy This Summer

“At least 220 languages are spoken in California, and 44% of residents speak a language other than English at home.” –   The Los Angeles Times

“At least 220 languages are spoken in California, and 44% of residents speak a language other than English at home.” – The Los Angeles Times

That’s just a drop in the bucket of the over 6,000 languages that are spoken around the world. As we become more global, learning another language to communicate with the rest of the non-English speaking world is an important decision to make, not only for financial and future business opportunities but also because research shows that learning another language can also improve your child’s academic performance. Expanding your child’s language skills is good for brain and social development, too! There’s a social benefit of living in such a rich and culturally diverse world. Learning another language and understanding other cultures is important in getting along in today’s multicultural and multilingual climate.

As a biracial (Mexican and African American) woman who moved to California from Hawaii, I lived with my Spanish-speaking grandparents and had to learn Spanish against a backdrop of discouragement from the school system. Today, I am married to my Korean husband and together we have four children we are raising in a multicultural and multilingual household. I know firsthand the fun and challenging path to new language acquisition. There is no one way or right way to learn a new language. As parents, we have to listen to and read the factual information available to us, and then pick and choose which methods work best for ourselves and our families.

Let’s get this out of the way — learning another language can be challenging! But how can we, as parents and caregivers, make the process easier (for everyone) and more enjoyable for our children? Here are some of my suggestions for methods and motivational tools used to teach kids a new language based on decades of trial and error, cheers and tears.

Read more by Sonia Smith-Kang at first5la