The benefits of learning multiple languages are apparent for adults but of paramount significance for children in terms of cognitive and communication skills development. Learning to speak a second language is also a great way to teach how to overcome fear and failure. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for kids to acquire these skills early on in life?
Many parents are hesitant introducing a second language to a child because they worry their child might start talking later. While some children may have delayed speech, many more will be just as talkative. Check out this blog about exactly this topic. As Jenn, a speech therapist, said: “Learning multiple languages can delay the expressive language of a child because they have to sort through all the information; however, when they begin talking, they usually talk at a more advanced level. This means that while they may be in the 1 word stage longer, they may skip the 2 word stage and go to multi-word sentences. It shouldn't have an effect on their receptive language (their understanding of what is being said to them).” And that’s just a comment for the short-term. It is proven that children who had second language exposure early on can go on and easily learn a third and fourth language later in life.
Whatever you do, don’t make it a chore! It’s important to keep learning fun. My son started learning Arabic alphabet as soon as he could speak words. I found videos of making Arabic alphabets using playdough. My son loved it; and would sit for hours at a time to make the entire sequence, and to perfection! It was very time consuming for me to help him with this “fun” task. He eventually mastered not only Arabic alphabet but also many derivatives, including Farsi, Urdu, Pashto and even Sindhi alphabets. He has retained most of the Urdu and Arabic but may have forgotten everything else. Even if he forgets most of it, I strongly believe all that has helped his little brain and will be useful to him somewhere down the road.