Botswana’s a country where being bi- or multi-lingual is common. I have encountered though, confusing and conflicting advice about the benefits of teaching young children more than one language.
On one hand is a desire to pass on the use of a mother tongue, while ensuring fluency in English. On the other hand, is a concern that learning more than one language at a time may slow down the development of language for the child.
Well, the good news is, strong evidence exists that learning more than one language, right from infancy, has a number of benefits for children. Below are just some of the benefits your child can have from exposure to more than one language at an early age:
1. A Good Workout For The Brain
Choosing between two, or more, languages gives the brain a stimulating workout. Psychologist and author of ‘The Bilingual Advantage’, Ellen Bialystok, says frequently switching between languages improves the executive function of the brain. Even in babies as young as 11 months.
2. Better Memory
Research shows that bilingual children tend to have higher memory retention, and tend to gain early reading skills. Being exposed to more words and sounds, their brains are more challenged and stimulated. Improving their overall health and memory power.
3. Improved Focus
Besides this, the ability to focus has been shown to be higher in many children who grow up in a bilingual environment. Compared to those raised in a monolingual environment.
A report presented by R. Pransiska at the 3rd International Conference on Early Childhood Education, showed better focus in children who learned a second language before the age of five.
4. Stronger Interpersonal Relationships and Connection
There is also a social benefit to being bilingual. Children can become more culturally sensitive. And become better at establishing connections in an increasingly diverse and global world.
Here Are A Few Ways To Start Your Child, Or Family Learning A New Language
Re A Bua Setswana Academy caters to all Setswana language learning needs – whether you’re a beginner or know some Setswana phrases.
Their courses range from introduction to greetings, asking for directions, things in the home and shops and eating out, all the way to pronouns and general phrases.
Courses are offered face to face or online. In groups or privately.
Contact: 77 963 642 or 75 386 487
Email: [email protected]
Learn conversational Setswana with Tumi in a group setting or private lessons. Classes are available to families and kids aged 7 – 12.
Contact: 73 013 293 or
Fill out this form to get in touch.
Learning doesn’t have to feel like punishment. Make learning from home, fun for your kids!
Pick a different Setswana word every day with Rati, and see how many times they can use it throughout the day.
The learning cards are fun and easy to use. There are many ways to learn Setswana and improve the child’s confidence in reading, writing and speaking Setswana.
They can use these cards to:
- write the words on a piece of paper and stick them on the door
- spell or use them in a sentence
- write the words down and explain them or
- draw the words to remember them
Contact: 72 200 221
If you have internet and interests to learn French, Setswana or English, Alliance Française offers in-person and online lessons. Bi-weekly French classes are available for children and Setswana lessons for adults.
Contact: 395 16 50 or 75 000 181
Learning more than one language is an enriching experience for your child, and has many benefits. Especially when done in a relaxed and fun way.
Learning other languages through play is also a great idea. For instance playdates with children whose home languages are different from your child’s. At the end of the day, they’ll grow to love being able to switch between languages, while making friends with kids who are different from them.
How many languages can your children speak? How’s your experience been in a bi- or multi-lingual home? Let us know in the comments below.