Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

In today’s episode with All Ears English, we have Alastair Budge from English Learning for Curious Minds as a guest.

He will share three things that he has learned from raising a two-year-old in an English-Italian bilingual household.

Listen in and learn something about fluency from bilingual kids.

Alastair Budge and His Background

Lindsay introduces Alastair Budge as an All Ears English guest in today’s podcast.

He is the host of the podcast: English Learning for Curious Minds.

Alastair will be sharing with Lindsay his experience with raising kids in a multilingual household.

This will help listeners get insights into improving fluency with techniques that kids use when learning a new language.

To begin, Lindsay first asks Alastair to share his background.

Alastair is from the United Kingdom and his wife is from Italy.

They have moved to a small country below Sicily, called Malta.

They have been there for five years now and they have a two-year-old son that they are raising to be bilingual.

Alastair talks to his son in English and his wife talks to their son in Italian.

They find it fascinating to observe how he picks up both languages so quickly.

As adults, learning a new language can be very difficult.

It’s amazing how kids naturally adjust to a different language.

Lindsay believes it’s because they are uninhibited.

They are not self-conscious when learning new things.

They are open to absorbing new information all the time.

More Details

Lindsay then asks Alastair about his expectations when they were forming their family and raising their son.

She asked if he think it was going to be easy or hard.

Alastair grew up with bilingual cousins.

His aunt married a French man and his cousins spoke both English and French.

They were younger than him and he found it cute when they used a French word in English and an English word in French.

But overall he was amazed by the capacity of his cousins to speak multiple languages fluently without ever studying them.

So this is what he aimed to do with his son.

He thought that it would be a great gift to give your child the opportunity to learn two languages and have the ability to connect with two cultures.

Three Tips From Bilingual Children

Lindsay asks Alastair what tips he picked up from observing his bilingual son.

Alastair mentions a disclaimer that he is not the expert in raising bilingual children but he is happy to share his experience on what has worked and not worked.

Here are the three tips that can help with your fluency:

  • Be Consistent

Alastair encourages you to be consistent. He also had to learn this with his wife when raising their son.

He and his wife would sometimes speak in a mix of Italian and English.

So they had to be more rigid and strict with their own language so as to not confuse their two-year-old.

Despite the fact that kids are like sponges, you still have to be disciplined.

  • Listen for sounds and not just words

This tip is an insight into what language learners can learn from kids.

Alastair mentions a podcast he listened to which is entitled “Deeply Human.”

The lady in the podcast was an expert in accents and pronunciations.

She talked about why kids often have relative ease at pronouncing words and adapting accents in different languages.

She says that the reason kids are so good at this is that they listen to particular sounds rather than focusing on words. If you focus on words, you tend to pronounce them in the accent of your own native language.

This is why if you’d like to recreate the proper pronunciation of the word, you have to listen to the sound. Alastair shares a story about his son wherein they heard a recording of him speaking in Serbian.

They don’t have anyone in the family that’s Serbian. No one in the family speaks Serbian.

But his son had a Serbian kindergarten teacher and he mimicked her perfectly.

Lindsay loves this tip. It is such a simple and pure way to learn to adapt this technique from kids.

  • Take joy in the process of learning

Alastair encourages all listeners to be more like a child in holding the spark in discovery and sheer wonder when learning new things.

There is joy in pursuing new learnings, especially a new language.

Lindsay agrees that everyone needs to go out into the world and bask in the happiness you feel when you discover new skills.

Takeaway

Kids learn in a totally different way and it comes so easy to them.

As adults, we can learn several things from the ways children pick up new languages.

Do not hesitate to improve your fluency in English and keep being curious and open to trying new ways and techniques.

Alastair Budge has his own podcast for English learners entitled English Learning for Curious Minds.

He talks about a lot of interesting topics and tips that will help you improve your English.

We encourage you to check out his podcast.

What tip from Alastair will you implement yourself?

Share it in the comments below and connect with other All Ears English listeners out there.

Bio:

“Alastair Budge is the host of English Learning for Curious Minds, a podcast for intermediate to advanced English learners that wants to help you learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English”.

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