Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is it too late?

Yesterday, I received an email from a customer who was concerned that her young daughter had forgotten all the German she knew since she has very little exposure at home and hadn't been able to watch German DVDs for a few months.

I wrote back to her:
Let me encourage you however - if your daughter is just 2 her language is by no means cemented - big things are happening in her brain! I have just finished reading 7 Steps to a Bilingual Child and this book encourages you that you can raise a bilingual child even when starting later (and age 2 is definitely not considered later). I'll bet she does remember many things and regardless, at age 2-3, children's language skills are still developing so you can put these kinds of things on and she will benefit from them even if she doesn't initially understand what is being said.

I'm sure my two year old doesn't understand much of what is said to him in English and in German, but from context, from the tone of my voice, and from my body language, he gets the meaning. The same can happen with your daughter. And if you watch and listen, you too, can start to pick up some words. The 7 Steps book talks about how mono-lingual parents can learn a language along WITH their children - what a great idea! This had never occurred to me as a distinct possibility before reading this book, but why not?
This book has been on my bedside table for many weeks. I am so glad I finally made the time to read it! There is encouragement for parents who don't speak a foreign language themselves and the Dr. Steiner gives advice on ways to be successful regardless of your own language capabilities. I love the sections on defining your goals for your child in becoming bilingual and creating an action plan. Goals are something I always ask about in my interviews because they are so individual for each family. When you define your goals, you see that what works for someone else may not be necessary for you. Very empowering stuff!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree - 2 is not "late" and it's never too late to start learning another language.
Also, as a parent who is learning German along with her kids, this does work! Now the kids are learning faster than I am and have less fear in using German. Reading aloud every night is really helpful for the entire family.