So the theory goes that children need 30% of their “waking hours” to be in a second language in order to achieve fluency. Check out Adam Beck’s cool pie chart and descriptions about how his family sneaks in about 30% of a second language.
Yet for many folks, that percentage can be tough to achieve. How do you get in your second language when you also have homework, soccer, piano, playdates chores and everything else to do in a day? I know that we struggle with the 30% rule often! Do you just give up on a second language if you can only get 15%? What about 5%?
I love this quote from Multilingual Living around this topic, “Sometimes less exposure can have more of an impact than we know! Just allow yourself to adjust your expectations to match your family’s language journey and see where you can add more language exposure along the way. The gift of language is priceless, no matter how much language exposure your child receives!”
That said, I have a little secret that I do every night that I think has a tremendous impact. Music.
Given that a third of our kids’ lives are spent sleeping, why not make use of the time! Studies have shown that some language acquisition can take place during the Zzzzzzs!
Every night after story-time and cuddling, I put on a playlist of Mandarin music for the kiddos. They love it! Lucas my son gets a different set of music than the younger girls. Lucas tends to like more Chinese pop and the girls love anything Disney. The music lasts for about an hour and half and they fall asleep to it. The music does not keep them awake but instead, I hope, they have sweet dreams of Elsa as they sleep!
Typically, I will cheat some more and play it again before I head up to bed just to get in another hour or so of language time. Try it! Can’t hurt right?