'Language acquisition for children is a natural process, don't turn it into a lesson'

Language acquisition in young children is a natural process and almost all children learn the language of their environment without having it explained to them.

Can you explain as simply as possible what your work entails?

In essence, my work is to share knowledge about multilingual language acquisition. And to connect organisations and initiatives, which deal with multilingualism in society from a positive vision.

What do you like most about your work?

I like it best when the penny drops in people I work with. When I see that they suddenly realise that they need to look at their work or their surroundings differently. Fortunately, this happens very often.

Do you think speaking multiple languages is important? And if so why?

Languages are important in so many ways. For people individually but also for society as a whole. Not only for communicating with each other, but also for thinking, learning, and discovering yourself and each other. Languages are bearers of cultures and identities. And being multilingual belongs to people like swimming belongs to fish. We always have been and we always will be.

What’s one thing that all parents should know about language acquisition?

Language acquisition in young children is a natural process and almost all children learn the language of their environment without having it explained to them. Talk, play, read to, enjoy. But don't turn them into language lessons!

Would you advise parents to teach their children multiple languages? If yes, why?

If those languages mean something to you and your child, then yes. I still see far too often that parents do not consider their own mother tongues important for their children because they think that Dutch or English will suffer if the children learn other languages at home. But if you do it the right way, this is not the case at all. And all the languages your child learns from an early age are a wonderful gift for the rest of their lives.

What tip would you give to parents considering teaching their child multiple languages at an early age?

There is a lot of information online about multilingual parenting. Immerse yourself in it and then think carefully about why you want it and how you want to go about it. Then be flexible in implementing your plans!

Are there any other things you would like to share with us?

The future is multilingual!

About Maaike

I am Maaike Verrips, I advise and support organisations and people in the field of multilingualism.

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With Jungle the Bungle's app, children aged between 2 and 8 can learn a new language in a very fun way. Why so young you might ask? Young children in particular learn a new language very easily.

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