You don’t have to be bilingual to teach your children another language, you can start them off with the basics at a very young age before enrolling them in classes when they are older.
At the age of two or three, children are increasing their vocabulary and are starting to recognize speech patterns, this is prime time to start introducing a second language as it will be much easier for your child to pick up its unique sounds.
According to Francois Thibaut, director of the Language Workshop for Children in New York, the ability to hear different phonetic pronunciations is sharpest before age 3, and we lose the capacity to hear and produce certain sounds if we aren’t exposed to them early on. So just hearing a television show, listening to music, or learning a few words in a second language will give your child essential tools for appreciating it now and learning to speak it later.
The best way for your children to learn to understand a new language is for them to hear people speaking it fluently, as they will pick up on the sounds – young children love to mimic what they hear!
Teach a word at a time. If you don’t want to do formal lessons, you can introduce bilingual basics by pointing out to your child that objects can have two names — one in each language. As your child learns new words, tell him what they’re called in a second language too.
Of course, a children won’t learn to speak another language fluently from hearing words, watching videos, or singing songs. But simply being exposed to a language will help them understand phrases when they hear them.