7 Ways Media and Tech Can Help You Raise Bilingual Kids

Source: Huff Post Parents

Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual event that celebrates and spreads awareness of Hispanic and Latino culture. Common Sense Media is joining the celebration by highlighting advice, role models, and great media choices that can help you and your family enjoy and incorporate more of these cultural touches into your daily lives.

By Maria O. Alvarez, Common Sense Media

Whether you speak Spanish or just want your kids to learn it, raising bilingual kids is a big commitment. But even though it can be challenging, it’s definitely worth the effort. Many studies confirm the multiple benefits of bilingualism.

Aside from the learning value, Spanish fluency will open doors for kids. Spanish is the third spoken language in the world, and according to Pew Research, it’s the most spoken non-English language — even among non-Hispanics — in the United States. Thanks to the Internet and other factors, the world has become increasingly more interconnected, and knowing more than one language makes you more competitive in a global economy. If you’re interested in having your kids become bilingual, check out Common Sense Media’s recommended apps list to help kids learn another language. You also can visit the Latino site for more information in Spanish.

When learning a second language, it’s important to hear, read, and speak it as often as possible. If you can, visit a Spanish-speaking country to immerse your whole family in the language and culture. Here are some tips to support you and your kids as you navigate the experience of living between two languages and cultures:

  1. Use media and devices whenever you can to support the Spanish learning process. Join your kids when possible. That way the message will be more clear: This is a family goal, and we can do it together!
  2. Reading is a great way to increase vocabulary and learn grammar. Start with bilingual books or ones with Spanish words. Read them to your kids if you can, or find people you trust to read to them in Spanish.
  3. Spanish TV shows teach vocabulary, intonation, and culture. Watching these shows also helps kids develop their listening abilities.
  4. Choose audio in Spanish when you’re watching a movie. If your kids are usually immersed in an English-speaking environment, they might have trouble following along — but keep trying. Listening to the language will really help them develop their ear for Spanish.
  5. Download apps that can support your kids’ growing Spanish vocabulary.Some apps let you select the primary language.
  6. Watch documentaries in Spanish that cover history, culture, and life in Spanish-speaking countries. If you’ve been to the places depicted in the movie or experienced the traditions, share your own stories or memories.
  7. Explore digital storytelling tools to create memories. You can have your kids practice their Spanish by writing the titles and sharing what they’ve created. Plus, you can share them with friends or relatives who live in other states or countries.

Stay tuned for more articles from Common Sense Media exploring and celebrating Latino culture in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs until October 15.

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at http://www.commonsense.org

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