View the original article by Soe Kabbabe on Jan 30, 2017 from
Growing up, one of my dreams was to be able to speak French fluently. In fact, if I were to study a second major, Modern Languages would have been my choice –but life had other plans for me. I ended up learning French and English by myself, and along the way I understood I had an eager passion to learn more about different cultures and languages –something I now see in my 4-year-old boy.
Learning a language means opening up the doors to new opportunities, as cliché as it sounds. It makes you respect other backgrounds and ethnicities and feel empathy for other human beings. It gives you the “power” to change your perspective and, to me, that’s more important than any other tangible present I could give my child. I wanted Aram to have what I couldn’t had back in my country.
Long story short, I started to expose him to several languages at once (even when I only could speak Spanish, English and basic French). We’d put Russian songs or TV shows in Arabic, watch Hebrew videos for kids or download German apps to learn together. Little by little, my son would respond to words or phrases in other languages (we lived in New York at the time, making it easier for him to understand our Jewish neighbor, for example).
One of the things that really helped was a set of DVD’s called Early Lingo, a learning system with online apps, discs, and workbooks launched in 2011. I purchased the French one as it was something I was familiar with. Years later I connected with the founder, Caryn Antonini, and I discovered that she has that exact same love for language and cultures, and was raising her kids in a multilingual house… Just like me!
Early Lingo also has an initiative called Young Global Citizens. It provides skills for children, focusing on global awareness, cultural empathy, problem solving and foreign language learning – all which improve future career and social success. “I believe that bilingual children can make the world a better place; language is the pathway to peace and all children deserve this power”, says Caryn. “It will ultimately create tolerance and acceptance of different peoples and cultures in our increasingly interdependent world”.
So, mamis del mundo, don’t be afraid to teach your kids more than one language (science backs me up –babies and toddlers can learn up to seven languages easily in the first few years of their life. They are truly a sponge waiting to absorb information!). And as for my Aram, he’s currently into Japanese, Russian, German, and Hindi. Though he only speaks English and Spanish fluently, I know he inherited my language skills and hopefully, that same passion to create a better world.