Patience, Consistency, Creativity: Tips For Raising Bilingual Children
The experience of raising bilingual children can be as challenging as it is rewarding. However, in today’s multicultural world, more and more parents are adopting this approach.
If you are raising bilingual children, or thinking about it, here are some tips on how to implement bilingualism in your home:
1. Be Consistent. It is important that you develop a plan as regards who speaks each language to the child and that you stick to it as much as possible. For example, if you decide that the One Parent, One Language (OPOL) technique is best for your family (that you speak one language to the child and your partner the other language), then do so continually. Consistency will ensure that the child has equal exposure to both languages.
2. Find other bilingual families. If you can meet regularly with other families who are raising bilingual children you will find a valuable support network. You will be able to ask advice, swap experiences and maybe even trade books and other resources.
3. Introduce your child to the cultures of both languages. It is important that children learn more than just the grammar and vocabulary of the languages they speak. If you take the time to introduce your child to the foods, music, traditions etc surrounding both languages, with books, art and music, for example, you will find they will be more eager to learn them.
4. Start early. Research shows that it is best to start as early as possible in introducing your child to both languages. This gets them into the habit from the beginning in speaking both languages. Babies’ brains are like sponges and they will be absorbing everything you say even before they are able to speak.
5. Have patience. Your child might learn one language faster than another or might appear to be more interested in one language than another. This is perfectly natural. As long as your child has exposure to a second language approximately 30% of the time, he/she should reach fluency over time.
Here is a video on the benefits of raising bilingual children:
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