Raising Bilingual Children
Raising bilingual children is a challenge no matter how many languages you know. We’ve complied a few tips to help guide you enforce your family’s bilingual habits.
It’s never too early to start teaching your child a second language. Before you even gave birth to your children, you and your partner may have agreed that bilingualism was an important aspect to your family. Start from a young age so your child doesn’t see the language differences as a big deal, but grows and learns to adapt to each language as time passes.
Set flexible goals and strategies
The process of raising bilingual children is not going to be easy. Right from the get go it is important to set goals for your children and figure out the strategies you will use to nurture your child’s second language. Are you going to focus more on oral fluency in their second language, or is reading and writing just as important? Will you send your children to language immersion schools? Be sure to think about every aspect of their lives and have a strategy and plan to ensure that your goals are met. That being said, sometimes your goals are not going to fit into a situation. At that time it is important you adapt to the situation and find new ways to enforce the secondary language.
Make it a priority
This is just as important as having a language goal and strategies to achieving it. Be proactive with your approach and make it a high priority. Otherwise there is a good chance your child will slowly adapt the dominant language in your culture and put their second language by the wayside.
Consistency is key
Some parents adapt the One Parent One Language strategy (one parent speaks one language only, while the other parent speaks the other language only). No matter what strategy you adapt, be sure you are consistent with what you are teaching your children. This will help to make your expectations of them clear and could also make your job easier as well.
Make it fun!
Engage your children in as many bilingual activities as possible. This will keep them excited about their second language and it will keep them learning as well. Ways to do this include reading, writing and watching movies in their second language.