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Bilingual Babies: Start 'em early!

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- As a new mom or dad, you're eager to hear your baby say his or her first words, like "mama" or "dada."

But what about "madre" and "padre" or "bonjour" and "auvoir?"

Anyone who has been around a little one can attest to their astonishing ability to learn quickly, much like Jessica Modjeski's daughter Clara.

Clara, her younger brother and their friends Lily and Lucy have been taking Spanish and music lessons for a couple of years now. This year is their second time doing the six-week session with Anita's Spanish & Music.

"I think this early development with language is really important so to expose her to different langauges, at this point in her age where she's open to learning it and its easier for them than it is for us," says Modjeski.

Modjeski has the right idea. Many parents like her are jumping on this "bilingual bandwagon."

Recent studies from the University of Washington that babies who learn two or more languages at once actually perform better at certain tasks or so-called "mental dexterity" that's brought on by a bilingual world.

"I think with a growing diversity in our community, it's really important for us to expose our kids to a variety of languages," says Modjeski.

"Miss Anita" Wahl, who teaches the course, says kids as young as 18 months can start learning their second language. She says it helps that her class involves dancing and singing in Spanish.

"Their ears are wide open. 3, 4-year-olds, they repeat their parents. They don't know its a different language, they have good years, they listen and when they move, it gets in their brain more and they have fun so it's a great experience," says Wahl.

That's why she says it's important to start now.

"My goal is to have a positive foundation in Spanish," says Wahl.

Other ways you can teach your kids another language at home is to watch videos in other languages, read books or even download apps onto your iPads or smartphones. One we tried that's free is "Bilingual Baby."

NBC Latino recommends other Spanish-related apps like "Desert Spanish for Kids" or "hello-Hello Spanish for iPad."

If you're interested in giving your kids Spanish lessons, you can reach Anita Wahl at anitawahl@sbcglobal.net or 715-723-5751.


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