Scientific studies have proven time and again that learning a second language at an early age not only helps develop young brains more quickly; it also helps children develop critical thinking skills, memorization, problem solving, and eventually, helps set them apart when job hunting.
One of the great benefits of hosting an international au pair through InterExchange Au Pair USA is the intimate access your young hungry minds will have to a nurturing foreign-language speaker.
Au pairs want to and are excited about sharing their languages and cultures with their host families. If you express an interest in having your kids learn their native language through daily play and conversation, most au pairs are more than happy to participate. As an added bonus, there will be mutual language learning, as au pairs will learn new vocabulary and grammar as they teach words and phrases in their own language to your family. It's a win-win for everyone!
Here are some ideas to get your au pair and the whole family exchanging languages and cultures through every day activities.
Songs throughout the day
In a post-Barney world, we now have songs for waking up, cleaning up, eating our food, and going to bed. What more natural way for kids to learn a new language than to learn the same types of songs from other countries? Add them to the alphabet and numbers songs from your au pair's host country, and the whole family will be singing in no time!
Label common household items that kids use
It's not just a trick to help high school students pass Spanish class! Labeling household items in your au pair's native language, as well as in English, will help your au pair and children retain common vocabulary words. Once everyone has memorized one set of items, you can move on to different objects around the house. Try toothbrushes, kitchen appliances, bedroom furniture, and electronics to start.
Even if your kids won't know all of the words in a picture book from your au pair's home country, reading storybooks and talking about the premise of the story is a great way to learn about different cultures' folk tales and traditions, as well as new words. And beautifully illustrated books are much more fun to learn from than a textbook!
Do you have budding artists at home? Ordering coloring books with descriptive text in other languages is a great way for kids to learn new words while their brains are actively thinking about the colors and scenery they are filling. With your au pair's help explaining the theme and words in the book, their understanding of what they are creating will be absorbed bilingually.