Children can learn amazing things when they start at an early age. One of the most beneficial skills that are relatively easy for children to acquire is speaking another language. The benefits of being bilingual are endless, and the sooner you start…the better. 

Kids that speak multiple languages tend to do better in other subjects and become great learners. Studies have shown that children can learn up to 7 languages at the same time up to 9 years of age. This is because when children are young their brains are like sponges simply soaking up any and all information they can. It’s the ability to converse in multiple languages that open up pathways in our brains that would otherwise be shut off. While it takes dedication, it is the best gift you can give your child as it sets them up for a successful future. With that in mind, here are our tips to help raise your child in a bilingual environment.

Speaking at Home

While this is the easiest way to do it, it’s not an option for all. If you or your partner speak another language fluently we highly suggest solely speaking to your kids in that language. Many parents fear that if they only speak a foreign language with their children that they won’t learn english or fall behind. This is purely a myth, as the child lives in the US and as English is the common language, they’ll never have the option not to speak or learn it. The longer you avoid speaking to them in your mother tongue the harder it will be for them to pick it up. You have to ensure that they are constantly responding in another language, and do not fall back into speaking English when they are home. Our best tip for this, is to make it a habit to only speak to them in your native language and make sure they are consistently responding in it as well. 

Bilingual Schools

For those of you who do not speak another language, the next best thing is to enroll them in a bilingual school. Bilingual schools tend to follow a system where a percentage of the curriculum is taught in English while the rest is taught in another language. Some also ramp up the amount of the foreign language that is taught as the children get older. For example, for 1st graders 20% of the day will be in another language and the rest will be taught in English. By the time they get to 5th or 6th grade the percentages are reversed where 80% of the day will be in another language, leaving 20% of the day in English. Bilingual education is growing rapidly especially in California as more parents are seeing the benefits of being bilingual. 

Learning Challenges

The hardest part of learning a language is reading and writing. They also tend to be the parts of the foreign language that are lost while the child is growing. Buying bilingual books for kids is a great tactic for continuing their language learning while at home. You can read to them before they go to bed and eventually encourage them to read on their own. As far as writing goes, you can have them keep a journal in another language and play writing games with them so it continues to stay fresh in their minds. Reading and writing in another language can truly set them up for success in the future as they will be considered a hot commodity in the professional world. 


Nothing can replace actually being in the country where a specific language is spoken. The more often you can travel to areas where they will be more or less forced to speak in that language, the better. Languages have cultural attributes as well, so learning to speak it while in the country where it is spoken gives the child a stronger sense of how other people talk. On top of that, it allows the child to practice the language with other people that are not their parents or a teacher. This in turn gives them confidence in their language abilities and allows them to understand the importance of being bilingual. It is also known that you can best learn a language while in the country that it is spoken, this is because you do not have the option to fall back into speaking English, so you have to figure out how to get your point across. 


If you do not have access to bilingual education and neither parent speaks another language, hiring a language tutor can also be very effective. The key is to ensure that the tutor is a native speaker and not just somebody who studied it closely. There is no replacement for a native speaker as they will understand the language much deeper than someone who learned it second hand. Native speakers also understand the intricacies of the language from a cultural standpoint, as well as adding in important slang and natural sounds that only someone who was born speaking a language can teach. We suggest at the very least having a tutor for 2 hours a week minimum, obviously the more you can do it the better. 


At Coastal Kids, we understand the importance of your child’s education and mental development. And even though it can be a challenge sometimes, the positive effects will last a lifetime. So we wish you well in your child’s bilingual learning journey, and for all other questions regarding their health and well-being, be sure to contact your Coastal Kids pediatrician today. Happy learning!