recommend that language learning be taught to babies as early as several months.
Babies may not be capable of talking yet, but they are able to actively
absorb and process language. A bilingual baby has the best chance to speak a language with a native accent. Babies, big kids and adults can all learn Chinese, but the babies can learn it and sound as though they grew up in China.
Here are some tips to help you set your language goals in raising your bilingual baby. Please also read the Language Milestones further below to guide you in the general language development of your child.
Starting your Bilingual Baby in Chinese - Expose Baby today
Talk to baby in Chinese. If anyone in the family is speaking Chinese, start today even if all baby does for now is sleep and eat and sit and smile. Your baby can already process this so might as well start now.
Talk in Chinese around baby. Even if you are only thinking out loud, or referring to another person. This way, baby is more exposed than ever to the sound of the language.
Have a Chinese-speaking caregiver. For non-Chinese speaking families, if you can get one, the better. This way, somebody in the household is exposing baby to Chinese.
Sing Chinese songs to your bilingual baby. There are plenty of high-quality children's Chinese songs you can use. If you don't speak Chinese, Some CDs have Pinyin song books (and some have English translations) that you can use as guide in your pronunciation of lyrics.
Use Bilingual Baby DVDs to start off baby with Chinese vocabulary. Some Learn-Chinese videos are specially designed for babies. A baby video has special features, such as bigger pictures, more simple movements, bigger letters and peaceful music. Studies show that a baby does not learn much from videos if baby is watching alone. Babies learn best from videos if a parent or caregiver is there and interacting with the video.
Read Chinese stories to baby. Start love of reading early as well. For non-Chinese speakers, there are read-along book sets that come with an audio CD recording of the stories. Soon, you'll be reading stories in fluent Chinese yourself!
Bilingual Baby Programs. Yes, there are child development experts who have studied and proven that babies can learn a language using a certain routine. The Doman language program, for example, has established an effective system that made babies learn language easily. Parents spend some time with their baby daily, flashing cards and talking to baby. One product that incorporated the Doman Program is the Baby Learns Chinese DVD Series.
Kids undergo these phases in their own time. These are average times
but do not necessarily mean all kids follow the same time frame. Your
child may do these earlier or later.
Here are the language milestones (understanding and expressing) that babies and toddlers learn at this age:
Birth to 5 months. SOUNDS Baby can tune in to directions. Can follow your gaze at each side, but cannot follow what you're looking at above baby's head. Can speak vowels, gooing, some poorly timed babbles. Can smile, sometimes in response to external events.
6 months - 9 months. SYLLABLES Baby can turn head if name is said. Can start learning "no" Can look where you point, not just pointing finger Baby starts saying syllables, may say sounds with forceful trilling
1 year old. BABBLE and WORDS, ROUTINES. Baby starts recognizing words of interesting things. Says easy sounds like "ba" or "da", sometimes "sh" and "f". "R" will be said later. Can respond to, but not lead, predictive action like patty cake, bye bye, etc. Some kids start speaking whole words.
1 year 4 months to 1 year 6 months. WORDS.
Number of words understood by boys : 50-350 Number of words understood by girls : 60 - 400
On average, first words are said between 10-18 months.
Number of words boys can use to express at this age: 13-420 Number of words girls can use to express at this age: 17-475
Note: Do not worry if child does not speak or sign words after 18 months. It is more a concern if child does not understand any words at that age.
24 months. SENTENCES. Chlid can understand most of what is said, especially with a lot of suppport. Major milestone is 2-word combinations by around age 18 months. Almost all children have word combinations by 26 months (2 years and 2 months)
If your child can access and learn Chinese at this age, there is a more natural flow of learning Chinese as baby's cognitive aspects develop as well.
It has been found that babies who are frequently spoken to by parents learn language faster. For parents who want their kids to learn Chinese easily, do communicate with your baby more with our 0-2 years old Chinese books, songs and videos.