8 Different Technology and Internet integrated strategies that you can use in raising multilingual kids

Do you know one of the common denominators among Amadeus Mozart, Sir Richard Burton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Queen Elizabeth I? Some of the names might be unfamiliar, but they are great and accomplished individuals who left a mark in their fields and the history of humankind. Now, what is that one characteristic they share? The answer, they are all multilingual.

Being multilingual does not mean success, but many accomplished persons are multilingual. Multilingualism presents a lot of opportunities, and you are probably thinking of opening such doors and windows of opportunities for your kids. Well, you are not alone in that thinking. You probably noticed that nowadays, multilingualism is becoming more common. From singers, actors, sports players, internet personalities, politicians, and even the kids and grown-ups living blocks away from your home. And why is this so?

The increase in multilingual speakers is attributed to many factors like history and intermarriage between people of different nationalities.  In addition to these two factors is the influx of new and innovative technology integrated language teaching ways. These creative and revolutionary ways made language learning easier, more engaging, and accessible. And your kid can experience these too.

Regardless of your motivations and whether you are a multilingual, bilingual, or monolingual parent, as long as you are dedicated to raising a multilingual kid, you can effectively do it. The advent and integration of technology into education and its increased availability made this task possible. As a parent, you want the best for your child or children. To assist you in this endeavour, this article will guide you to eight different technology and internet integrated strategies that you can use to raise multilingual kids.

What is Multilingualism?

Multilingualism is defined as the ability of an individual to communicate in three or more languages. This is in contrast to monolingualism (one language) and bilingualism (two languages)

Three school kids sitting on the floor and playing English alphabet with the teacher

A person who can speak several languages is known as multilingual or polyglot. In some cases, people present a fine thread separating multilingualism and polyglotism, with the latter being the more advanced. In these instances, people regard polyglotism as the ability to communicate in at least four or five languages.

How do technology and the internet can help you raise a multilingual kid?

Modern technology facilitates an easier and convenient language learning environment. Modern technologies such as laptops, computers, the internet, video-sharing, social media platforms, and various education websites paved the way for innovative and creative language immersion, which scaffold the child’s language development. Just make sure that you monitor their time in front of the screen as too much screen time is bad for their cognitive, social, and emotional development.

8 Ways Technology and the Internet can help you in raising multilingual kids

  1. Accessible video lessons. Video sharing platforms made online and offline language lessons available. Some videos might come as advanced for them to watch alone, so better if you are the one to watch it and then teach it to your children. You can also opt to watch those language lessons together so you can better guide them.
  2. Online books. Reading is one of the most preferred macro skills as it presents many benefits for children. If you are teaching your children of different languages, then reading might come at a later stage. And on that stage, online books will prove to be essential. Those books you find online can help your child have a better grasp of the language.
  3. Audiobooks. If they cannot read yet, you can pick audiobooks instead. Listening is one way of immersing them in the target language. Just make sure that you start with simple stories.  
  4. Educational Shows. Language lessons might come as too traditional, and kids might have a lower preference for it. So, educational shows might be the better fit. Educational shows integrate language into kids’ shows, and children might find this enjoyable. Educational shows are interactive, engaging, and most importantly, there are lots of them available online.
  5. Translated Kids Shows. Children have their favorite shows, so if you can find a version of it in the target language, you can use them to expose and immerse your children. Children are familiar with the scenes of their favorite shows, so if the character in the show is saying “Help” in the target language, they will get it.
  6. Interactive games. Children love to play, so integrating play in language acquisition is a great idea. And one way to do it is through readily available games on the internet. These games are available on laptops, desktops, and smartphones; hence, you will not have a hard time finding them. Some of these games allow users to select which language to use. Therefore, it would be an excellent practice for the kids.
  7. Available music online. Theinternet provides parents with a vast music playlist that they can play to help their children acquire the target language. Children love harmony and melody, and you can use this fondness to make them memorize songs. But if you do not know what song to search and play, you can opt for nursery songs. All languages have their own nursery songs, so you’ll find it easy to find them. Nursery songs are also simple and easy to remember.
  8. Video-messaging. Speaking and talking in the target language is an excellent way to teach them the basics and nuances of the target language. If you have relatives away from you who speak the target language, encourage your children to talk with them.

Benefits of Multilingualism

What are the advantages for your children if they learn multiple languages? The following are some of the benefits and opportunities that multilingualism presents to multilingual individuals.

Portrait of smart teen boy adjusting glasses and looking at camera
  1. Better Academic Performance. Multilingual children can concentrate better and have better problem-solving skills, which helps them achieve better academic standing than most of their peers.
  2. Enhanced Communication. Being multilingual means immersion to different and more diverse experiences. As such, they are more adept at considering perspectives different from theirs.
  3. Increased Networking Capability. Since multilingual children can speak more than just two languages, logically, they can effectively and efficiently communicate with more people.
  4. Enhanced Memory. Multilingual individuals have higher scores in memory tests than those who can only use one language. And this is an advantage to them since more excellent and better memory can aid them in various social, cognitive, and technical tasks.
  5. Sharpened Mind. Being multilingual means putting the mind to multitask, and this sharpens the mind. And this benefits people to become better at observing their environment.
  6. Increased Career possibilities and opportunities. Being multilingual means having an advantage over others in terms of communication. Language and communication are an indispensable part of modern success. So, if they have an edge on both, they can expect an easier time finding jobs and pay increases.
  7. Delays the onset of Alzheimer’s. Multilingual does not only benefit a person when they are young or in middle age. Multilingualism helps individuals up to their old age as various studies discovered that it delays Alzheimer’s disease.

Additional Tips for Parents

  1. Raising a multilingual kid requires much effort, so make sure that you have ample patience.
  2. Children are children; there would be times that you will find them having a hard time to focus so make sure that you do not overdo it. Give them enough time to rest and do other activities.
  3. Make language learning as fun as possible. It is the children’s right to play, so make sure they have enough time to immerse themselves in these activities. You can also opt to integrate language learning into some of these activities. Play helps in creating low-stress and non-threatening environments, which are suitable for learning and development.  
  4. If you can speak the target language then communicate with them using it.

Can my kid learn multiple languages even if I am only monolingual or bilingual?

The environment helps a lot when it comes to language learning. Suppose a child is immersed in an environment where another language is being spoken. In that case, there is a higher chance of acquiring the language. But what if the family is only speaking one or two languages? It might be a problem; however, there are many ways to immerse the child in other languages, and that is where modern technology comes.

In addition, immersion is not only the essential factor that affects the language learning capacity of kids. Aside from the environment, the age of the child affects their ability to acquire different languages. That is why, if you plan to raise your kid as multilingual, the most significant consideration is not whether you are multilingual or not but rather the age of the child. The learning ability of children is incredible, and as such, cannot be belittled.  And according to a linguistic and language acquisition hypothesis, Critical Period Hypothesis (CHO), the first few years in a child’s life is the optimal or critical period for language learning since this period allows children to acquire native-like competence. 

So, it is not about the number of languages that a parent can speak but rather the time and timing when they plan to immerse the child in different languages.