Today I would like to talk a bit about bilingualism. At home we speak two languages: English and Portuguese. My son speaks English with his father, and Portuguese with me. It is really amazing to watch when we are having a conversation and my son switches from English to Portuguese and vice-verse without stopping to translate. In an article shown by the New York Times, it says that being bilingual improves the brain’s executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind. In other words, being bilingual is a great deal for my son to help him to stay focused :).
Another advantage stated by the New York Times is that being bilingual, makes you smarter, and it can improve cognitive skills and even shielding against dementia in old age.
For me, raising my son bilingual is very important because of the many benefits for the brain aforementioned, as well as to keep his family roots. I want him to be able to communicate fluently with me and our family in Brazil.
I always spoke in Portuguese language with son but never taught him how to write or read. I wanted him to be alphabetized in English first, and then introduce the Portuguese grammar. Hence now, I believe it is the right time for him to be alphabetized in the Portuguese language.
Last week we began our lesson by sketching his body and labeling its parts in Portuguese language. My son drew muscles, which are the squares on his chest, and he also started coloring a t-shirt but has not finished yet :).
I also labeled things around the house. I wrote in Portuguese and English.
The image below is an example of the things I have labeled in the house so far. Portuguese is written in blue and English is written in black ink right under each word.
Additionally, I am also designing vocabulary flashcards, which I will post as soon as I finish.
Yesterday, he began to learn the alphabet and its sounds. Another advantage of being bilingual is the ability to recognize sounds. Although in English language most of the sounds are different from the Portuguese language, there are many sounds that are similar and helped my son to recognize sounds in letters, specially those words with the Latin root.
This idea can be applied to any language, and can be also translated to as many languages as are spoken at home. Labeling things around the house even helps your husband/wife to learn your language :).
I will keep you informed of the things we are doing. Have a great day. Thanks :).