Question

Children's Learning & Development

I hope that my child can be bilingual. What can we do to help him achieve that?

What the Expert Says

By Brian Caswell

Dean of Research and Program Development at MindChamps

Internationally-acclaimed author of more than 300 books, mainly of which have won literary awards

Established speaker and literacy consultant

According to research, exposure to a bilingual environment may give young children a cognitive advantage over those who use only one language. Your child will develop in both languages in proportion to the amount of exposure he or she receives.

Use Two Languages Simultaneously

If you speak both Mandarin and English – or any two languages – the secret is to use both equally – either alternately or simultaneously. Helping the child to understand that the same concept, action or object can be expressed in two different ways may seem unnecessarily confusing, but compared to the complexity of most of the things they must learn, it is really not particularly difficult.

For bilingual proficiency to take root, all that is required is a truly bilingual environment – so speak both languages equally at home. To help children who speak predominantly one language at home, some preschools in Singapore do offer bilingual curriculum, which move children gradually towards the integration of Mandarin and English in preparation for school. This allows them to gain the advantages of bilingual brain development and develop a valuable skill to take them into life.

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