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We are living in what is referred to as a ‘global village’ these days, indicating how much more reachable everything has become. As our world gets smaller, being able to speak more than one language is definitely an advantage. Here are some tips to help you overcome common obstacles to bilingualism and raise a bilingual child without too much effort.
As the cultural boundaries have disappeared or merged, there has been an increase in mixed marriages, which inevitably leads to mixed parenting! While this is certainly something to be celebrated and encouraged, it creates a few questions in the minds of new parents – which language do we use when raising our child?
The thing is, you don’t really have to choose a single language to raise a child. Children have been growing up in bilingual and even multilingual households for ages, and it has only benefitted them in the long run. However, there are people who claim that two languages can confuse a child, delay speech development and lead to mastery over neither. While these are far from the truth, there are a few things to consider before deciding to raise a bilingual child.
The first question has to be why you want your child to be bilingual. The answer to this decides the extent to which you want to pursue bilingualism – understanding, speaking, reading or writing as well. You need to discuss this with your partner so that your goals are clear and you are on the same page. Make sure that you’re not doing this to due to the family or societal pressure.
If you’ve decided to go bilingual, congratulations!! We’re all set to help you with our handbook of tips.
Ten Tips to Raise a Bilingual Child
1. Show the same respect
First of all, ensure that you’re not unknowingly giving any undue ‘superiority’ to either language. Teach your child that every language has its place in the world and is important in its own way.
2. Have a plan
Even if two languages are spoken equally often in your home, just assuming that your child will pick it up won’t work. You need to be organized with clear goals; a half-hearted effort won’t reap results.
3. Dont wait
Your child is never too young or too old to learn a new language. The earlier you start, the better. Even infants can distinguish between different tongues, so you have a budding learner from the start!
4. Make time
You’ve made a plan, but you also need to make time to implement that plan. Ensure that you prioritize it and arrange time slots during the day and weekends accordingly.
5. Get company
Everything is so much better when there’s someone to share it with! Arrange play dates with children who are already speaking the second language that you want to introduce to your child. Or else, send them to classes that use this second language as the main medium.
6. Make it fun
You don’t want your child to think that learning a new language is a chore. Convert your regular games into new versions including the new language. Get funny books to read together; the funnier they are, the more likely they’ll be remembered!
7. Celebrate it
The native language of a place is closely linked to its culture, so be sure to celebrate all the native festivals, staying true to their traditional ways. Celebrations always last longer in our memories and will help kids accommodate the new language more easily.
8. Use media
Media is a strong tool to help raise a bilingual child. Cartoons, TV shows and movies, all help. Although you can’t expect a child to learn a new language solely by watching TV, it’ll help to reinforce whatever he’s learning otherwise.
9. Stay consistent
Like we mentioned earlier, having a solid plan and making time for it is very essential, as is sticking to the plan. Don’t get disheartened halfway through or get lazy and give up; you’ll just undo all the efforts you and your child took.
10. Be patient
However well intentional your efforts are, you can’t expect your child to cooperate 100% every time! Be prepared for dull periods and take it easy when either of you are in a bad mood. But be sure to bounce back soon and take it from there; remember the plan!
Knowing more than one language makes a person more confident, apart from increasing his employment and educational opportunities. Learning a language from a different part of the world also develops more tolerance and understanding, which is what today’s society lacks. So go ahead and raise your bilingual child without stress; you’ll both be proud of yourselves!