Moving your family to a new country can be tough – especially when you don’t speak the language. Could hiring a bilingual nanny help your children integrate?
Relocating your family to an entirely new country can be incredibly tough. From unfamiliar school systems and financial hoops to jump through, to getting to grips with tax, transport and property; there’s a terrifyingly long list of “stuff to sort” before you’re comfortably settled in your new corner of the globe. The whole process becomes immeasurably more difficult if you and your children do not speak the local language.
From feelings of isolation, to problems keeping up at school, children can find language barriers very difficult indeed, but they’re also in the enviable position of having a brain that’s hard-wired to learn. Unlike adults who can take evening classes for years before they’re even approaching competent in a foreign tongue, children can pick up new languages impressively quickly, especially if they learn before the age of 13 during the stage many experts call the “critical period”.
This is one reason why bilingual nannies are popular amongst ex-pat parents. From families who stay at home but want their youngster to pick up a new language to boost their development, to families who move to Belgium and hire a nanny in Brussels who speaks both English as well as French, German or Dutch, taking on a multilingual career for children is a popular choice.
Does a Bilingual Nanny really help children learn new languages and does it have any downsides?
1. Immersion is a great learning tool
One of the best ways to help children learn a new language is to immerse them in it. If they’re not in a native-speaking school, it will be difficult for them to become fluent without more regular input – even with weekly classes. A native-speaking nanny, who you instruct to speak in their mother-tongue as much as possible, will help children pick up words and language for everyday objects and activities impressively quickly.
2. Get “two for the price of one”
A bilingual nanny may charge more for their services in some cases, but if you need regular childcare in any case, this can work out as cost-effective with no need for dedicated language lessons and a more immersive, effective approach. A bilingual nanny effectively takes on two roles; carer and teacher, helping your child to learn naturally, without the cost or artificial learning environment of language lessons.
3. Start earlier
What two year old is going to sit still for a 45 minute lesson in Dutch? No two year old in the world. However, a two year old will want to interact with one of their primary care givers. A bilingual nanny can start teaching a new language to their charges from a far earlier age.
4. Learn about culture
A bilingual, native-speaking nanny won’t just help your youngster learn a new language, it will also help them get to grips with a whole new culture. There’s much more to making friends and getting along in a new country than language alone. Custom, tradition, social norms and much more can also stand in between youngsters and new friendships.
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