The Gift of Language



    Simple Tips for Parents to Support Their Child's Bilingualism

    TORONTO, March 19 /CNW/ - This week Canadians celebrate the National
Francophonie Week and on March 20 Francophones around the world will celebrate
the International Day of Francophonie. It's a great opportunity for families
across the country to join the celebration by participating in one of many
events and activities organized locally to remind us and make us proud of our
rich linguistic and cultural heritage.
    Whether it is the French along with the English language that's spoken in
your home, or any one of many other languages used in Canada, most families
and parents want to pass their heritage and knowledge on to their next
generation. And, as our society's diversity flourishes and many facets of our
lives become prefixed with the word 'global,' even those families and parents
who are unilingual are increasingly interested in helping their children learn
another language. So, what is a parent to do? How do we raise a new young
generation of global citizens?
    "We often hear that children are like 'sponges,' and that they can learn
any language easily while they are young. This is true, but only when they
have lots of exposure to the language or languages their parents would like
them to learn," says Dr. Liane Comeau, language and literacy expert with
Invest in Kids, a national charity helping parents support the healthy social,
emotional and intellectual development of children aged 0-5.
    "Our approach can best be described as very informal. We use the two
languages interchangeably in all contexts of daily life," says Angus
Patterson, reflecting on how he and his wife, Dawn Tam Patterson, are helping
their 18-month-old son Sébastien learn both French and English.
    "In communities where both languages are equally represented, a child's
ability to speak both languages will develop naturally. However, where that's
not the case, raising a bilingual child requires conscious planning and
effort. Both parents need to agree on their strategies and what each will do
to help their child learn another language," says Dr. Comeau whose research on
young French-English bilingual children was published in the February issue of
The Journal of Child Language.
    Invest in Kids has several suggestions for parents that they can use to
help their child become bilingual or even multilingual. These tips are based
on Invest in Kids' Comfort, Play & Teach: A Positive Approach to
Parenting(TM), a simple framework parents can use to support their child's
healthy development while comforting, playing with and teaching their child:

    
    -   Listen to recordings of your favourite music in both languages. You
        can dance to the melody or your child can sing along if she or he
        knows the words. Play lullabies at nap time or as background music to
        activities like drawing and painting. This will comfort your child as
        music evokes different feelings, and listening to it can build your
        child's confidence in understanding the words and in using them.

    -   Play a game of I Spy in both languages, providing clues about
        different things in the environment. Your child can guess what you
        are looking at based on things like its colour, shape, size or
        function. Encourage your child to give clues to you as well. This fun
        activity will provide opportunities to play together and both to
        speak and to listen.

    -   Take turns talking to your child in your native language about what
        is happening whether you are cooking, doing laundry, shopping or
        repairing something. By describing different things about the
        activity, you will teach your child new words and build his or her
        vocabulary. In turn, asking questions about what you are doing will
        encourage your child to use these new words and to talk about his
        experiences.
    

    Parents can find these and additional tips and activities they can use to
support their child's learning of another language in the <a href="http://www.investinkids.ca/ContentPage.aspx?name=Parents_parents-different-languages-how-to-ensure-child-speaks-both">Answers for Parents</a>
and the <a href="http://www.investinkids.ca/ContentPage.aspx?name=CPTTipSheet">Comfort, Play & Teach Tip Sheets</a> at www.investinkids.ca.

    Invest in Kids is a national charity dedicated to helping parents become
the parents they want and need to be. By translating the science of parenting
and child development into engaging, easy-to-understand, relevant resources
for parents and professionals, Invest in Kids aims to strengthen the parenting
knowledge, skills and confidence of all those who touch the lives of our
youngest children to ensure the healthy social, emotional and intellectual
development of children from birth to age five. For additional information,
visit www.investinkids.ca.





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: 1-877-583-5437, or (416)
977-1222; Lindsay Robertson, ext. 224, Communications Coordinator,
lrobertson@investinkids.ca; Rozvita Gabric, ext. 294, Communications Manager,
rgabric@investinkids.ca

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