Repetition is imperative in learning a language. If you form a routine with your baby that includes some phrases in the target language to repeat several times a day, your baby will absorb the language just as she would the mother language.
If you have a sufficient level of English (or other target language) to speak to your baby in that language all the time, fantastic! But here we hope to help your child become bilingual even if you are not (yet). One practical and easy way to start is incorporating the target language to your daily routines. This could mean simply speaking a bit of English (or Spanish, French, Italian…) at bath time, or reading a story or singing a lullaby in the target language before bed. You can choose one ore two of these activities to start, and expand little by little. The important thing is that you be persistent so your baby can listen to and learn the language associated with that activity.
See Parent English to learn thematic Vocabulary and Useful Phrases in English and Spanish
You are the most important linguistic model for your baby. Recasting is a technique you can use to help your little one express something in the target language that he has said in the first language or to demonstrate a more correct or more complete way of expressing himself in the target language. It works by repeating what he said correctly without changing the intended meaning.
Baby: Quiero agua.
Mummy: You want water? Okay, let’s go to the kitchen.
Baby: Car red.
Mummy: Yes, that is a red car.
You probably already do this with your baby without giving it a thought: every time you can count something, you do it aloud. Steps of the staircase, plates on the table, buttons on the pajamas. If you make a habit of this, your little one will learn to count in the target language with no effort at all. Let’s count your buttons. One, two, three…
We have a great playlist of Counting Songs in English on our YouTube channel.
Repeat: Stories and Songs
Little children do not tire of listening to their favourite stories and songs over and over again (even if we do!). Choose a couple of stories and songs in the target language and read and sing them to your child every day. Opt for books that also use repetition as a literary device: children love to be able to anticipate what is next and it helps them to learn the vocabulary used in the story. To provide your baby with comprehensible input, point to the pictures and when possible (and you deem it age-appropriate) show him or her videos of the songs. In no time your baby will recognize the words from the story and will imitate the song’s lyrics.
I recommend starting from a very young age (under 12 months) with the alphabet. Being able to spell in a second language is a very useful ability in the real world, and it is surprisingly a gap in knowledge for many people.