10 ways to successfully raise Bilingual Children
Growing up in a family speaking more than one language in a diverse multi-cultural world is highly advantageous and appealing for future generations of children.
Children are born with the natural ability to pick up different languages simultaneously.
From just days after birth, all infants can tell the difference between many languages
Barbara Zurer Pearson Author of Raising a Bilingual Child
1. Does raising a bilingual child lead to speech delays?
Studies have found that children with language delays who are in dual language environments gain language at the same rate as those in monolingual environments
Ellen Stubbe Kester, president of Bilinguistics.
2. Bilingual Language Development – having a plan
Success of raising happy bilingual children often boils down to how the process is managed by the parents and other family members so experts recommend devising a plan that everyone is in agreement with, and sticks to it or adapts but with full agreement.
3. Definition of Bilingualism
Before drafting a plan of action, it is a good idea to be clear on what bilingualism means to you. For some parents understanding two languages but speaking and writing in one may constitute a child’s bilingual abilities, while others expectation require their children to speak, read and write and be equally competent in both languages even to academic levels.
If a child is brought up in a family speaking two languages i.e. Italian parents living in England may speak both languages, this is simultaneous learning. The child is exposed to two languages even before they begin to talk or up to the age of three years.
Sequential or successive bilingualism is when a child has an established first language i.e. Spanish before learning a second language usually at pre-school and later education.
4. Mixing up languages
It is important that parents and family members do not mix up two languages during conversations and create a balance of learning for the child. If the child is at a French School throughout the day then it would be a good balance to speak the second language in the home.
Although, if a child does mix up “mash up” the languages he/she is learning then this is perfectly normal and expected during the learning process. Sometimes if they are stuck on a word they will draw words from their other language.
5. Lead by example – being a good language role model
Parents should be speaking clearly with good use of grammar, maintaining eye contact helps a child to learn more than it he is hearing it through a doorway. The child needs a variety of good vocabulary and a mix of material including music, books, games, activities and interaction with other children using the language they are learning.
5. Praise and encouragement
Children learn and develop differently so if you are working with more than one child adapt your strategy for learning and offer praise and approval to all children no matter what they ability or speed of learning may be. There are many factors affecting a child’s speed of learning including: the community in which they live, relationships with family members and attitudes towards languages by family members and other people.
7. Meeting resistance
With all the best intensions some children may resist your language plan in favour of spending time with their friends, watching TV or generally favouring one language.
Children go through phases, so it maybe just a blip so take a step back and reassess the language plan to adapt to their changing needs.
8. Advantages of being bilingual
Raising a child to be bilingual will not only give them the ability to communicate with a wider varieties of people but to understand and enjoy two different cultures with more career opportunities as adults.
9. Maintaining child’s culture and heritage
It is not just about looking forward and investing in the future, it is also about helping your child maintain their roots, their heritage and understanding where they came from. This is important to their identity and maintaining a vital connection to their past.
10. La Petite Ecole Francaise
We offer classes strictly for bilingual children that follows the French Primary School Curriculum for 2 hours per week starting September. Contact us to register.