Caryn Antonini is the guest writer for Dot Complicated

On August 1, 2013  Dot Complicated posted this article written by Early Lingo founder, Caryn Antonini:

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Why (And How) To Teach Your Toddler A Foreign Language

Remember sludging through the preterite tense in your 7th grade Spanish class? How about making flashcards to help you remember the vocabulary for different household furniture items? Because of these negative memories, many people shy away from pursuing a second language or forcing one on their child. But, there’s a catch; for children, it’s remarkably easy to learn a second language.

The more languages you expose your child to, the more fluency your child will retain later in life. There is no limit to how many languages a child can learn. According to a 2003 study by the College Board, bilingual children score better on standardized tests in both math and verbal, they have a better ability to problem solve, they are able to “think outside the box” more easily because their brains are accustomed to thinking in different ways, (i.e., different sentence structures, word choice, etc.) and they tend to be more confident because of their ability to communicate in another language.

Active baby raised hands up and smiling

During early childhood, young children store foreign languages in the same part of the brain as their native tongue whereas adults store languages in a different area of the brain, making it much more difficult to learn. That’s why learning Spanish or French in high school was so difficult – and it’s what makes many people think that foreign languages acquisition is hard for children since they themselves had such difficulty. The difference is age!

Babies are commonly referred to as little citizens of the world because they are born with a universal knowledge for language. That means, a baby has the ability to learn any language of the world. A Chinese baby raised in Sweden could learn Swedish, and a Brazilian baby living in France could learn French. Babies will speak like native speakers, without accent, because they are capable of imitating any sound. In fact, according to Pulitzer-prize winning science writer Robert Kotulak, during the first six months of life, babies babble using 70 different sounds. These 70 sounds are the building blocks for the roughly 6,000+ languages of the world.

After learning this, I set out to develop a way to take advantage of these underutilized years in a baby’s life. I created the Early Lingo DVD Series, which provides a child (ages 6 months to 6 years) with a solid foundation in a foreign language. Of course, the best way to learn a language is from a live, native-speaking teacher or by living in the country itself, but the DVD series is a great way to learn if those options aren’t available or if you want to supplement your child’s learning at home.

As a mom to two young children, I know how important it is to limit screen time. According to Nielsen ratings, preschoolers ages 2-5 watch 32.5 hours of TV a week. And children in general spend nearly 55 hours a week being “entertained by technology” whether they are watching TV, playing video games, texting friends or using the iPad. While I try to make sure the time my kids spend with tech is far below the national average, I admit that they do still spend more time in front of a screen than I would prefer. Since children will be consuming content anyway, at least to some extent (very few of us are good enough to get rid of it completely), substituting their normal programming for educational stuff makes a lot of sense.

Here are a few other resources to help teach babies a second language:

  • eFlash series, sets of flashcards in foreign languages which are good for reinforcing vocabulary
  • Mindsnacks, a series of foreign language games
  • Toddler Time series, a set of foreign language games for younger children.

There is no better time than right now to help get your child off on the right food by teaching them a foreign language. After all, they’re not getting any younger!

Written by Caryn Antonini


Caryn Antonini, graduate of the Georgetown University School of Languages and Linguistics, has created the new, innovative learning tool – EARLY LINGO. It was at the University that Caryn cultivated her understanding of a child’s acquisition of language and the relationship to their cognitive development. As a new mother, Caryn wanted to give her child the advantages of learning a foreign language as an infant and all the subsequent benefits it would bring to her child later in life, but was unable to find anything on the market that would accomplish this effectively.

To view this article in its complete version, please visit the original post at Dot Complicated.