Knowing a Second Language for Nannies

There are more and more job postings from parents looking for bilingual nannies. Knowing a second language is definitely a resume builder for nannies.

After birth and while kids are young, their brains are hard-wired to acquire language naturally. As a child approaches puberty, the nature of language learning and storage changes, becoming less flexible. Overall, the ease of learning a second language diminishes with age.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “learning a second language later in life is fundamentally different from learning it early in life….Toddlers who learn a second language along with their native tongue store this capability in a single sector in the brain…but if the second language is acquired later—say, in a French class in high school—the brain designates a separate area for processing it….those who learn two languages at a young age retain an [unique] ability to speak both as if each was their native tongue.”

Research shows that learning a second language does not cause language confusion, language delay, or cognitive deficit in children.

Teaching a Child a Second Language by Cornell University

  1. Surround the child with more than one language through conversations and social groups using different languages; the earlier the better.
  2. Maintain home (heritage) language when a second language is being learned outside the home.
  3. Expose children to multilingual settings and give them plenty of opportunities to play with children who speak the second language.
  4. Provide fun and interactive language-learning environments (e.g., music, dance and film) in both languages, and often with children of similar age.
  5. Promote reading and storytelling in multiple languages.
  6. Maintain a positive attitude toward languages and cultures children learn.

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