Children are like sponges, they absorb everything. The trick to getting a child
to be multilingual is to start when the child is a newborn. When the sounds of a
language are a natural part of baby’s environment mimicking them becomes the
next natural step. The key point is to familiarize them with the letters and
sounds of a language when they are young. Then the acquisition of vocabulary
will follow, which is not as hard as it may seem.
As they grow older, immerse all their senses in
language. If you’re reading a book to a child in English, stop at the end of
each page, point to the objects on the page and name them in Arabic. Now, we’re
building vocabulary. If they ask for juice, rephrase their question as an
Arabic statement when you hand them the juice. Kids are smart, they will
immediately link that both words refer to the same item.
In the car play tapes of both languages, fun
songs where they can sing along. On the walls in their rooms or play
areas, hang projects or posters or flashcards of both languages, so that they
see the words on a regular basis. Or hang homemade cards like: door, chair,
window all around your house. This also helps their spelling. When they are
eating, describe the flavors using words of multiple languages.
Hang a white board in the hall for older
children and write a sentence on it in English. Then put up the words of the
same sentence in Arabic, only scrambled, and have them unscramble one sentence a
day to form the correct translation. As they grow older, just write the English
sentence and have them translate on their own. Soon they’ll be challenging each
other and you can sit back and watch the words flow!
If you are living in a predominantly English
speaking environment, make Arabic the language that must be spoken at home.
Leave the sorting of which word belongs to which language to the child. These
things just work themselves out on their own.