Audrey Misiano

French and Spanish Teacher, Life-long learner, Teacher - high school

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Can an interactive multimedia approach to another language help parents raise multilingual children?

I speak to my children only in French and everyone else, including their father, speaks to them in English. Obviously, English is not a source for concern. Our daughter, Soleil, can express herself in English extremely well. On occasion she will speak franglais, throwing in just one word of French to an otherwise entirely English conversation. Our son, Geo, doesn’t speak much yet, but he is apt to use more French words than his sister. We’re wondering if this is because Geo was exposed to French from birth, whereas Soleil didn’t start hearing French until she was 6 months old.

Patricia Kuhl’s recent research proves that babies need a human to take their statistics on languages prior to their first birthday. By the time babies turn one, their ears have been formed to hear the sounds they need to hear, but only sounds produced by humans are considered by the baby’s brain as vital. What does this mean about our multimedia approach to language exposure? We enjoy many fun videos on our favorite YouTube Channel that have repetitive interactive parts. We find ourselves singing or dancing together as a family while watching them. I’m hoping this sort of interaction will encourage language acquisition much better than if we were to rely on less interactive videos alone.

Another technique I’m incorporating to boost our multiliterate endeavors is nightly music. Once the stories and been read and the children are snug as a bug in a rug, we push the play button on their iPod. We have created many short French playlists for Soleil and Geo’s nightly French serenade. The idea is that over the years and through the repetition of the children’s songs, the lyrics will stick and ultimately fuel their French skills.

Unfortunately, at this point, we are not seeing much French speech from either child. Do you think we should revise our technique? Do you think the interactive piece to the videos will allow for language acquisition?