5 Things you need to raise a bilingual child
5 Things you need to raise a bilingual child is a guest post by Chontelle at Bilingual Kidspot.
There are many benefits of raising children with more than one language, and raising a bilingual child can be one of the most rewarding things for parents, however it isn’t always as easy as some may think. Children don’t just become bilingual instantly, it takes a lot of work and there are various challenges to overcome along the way.
There are certain things every parent needs to make the journey easier:
- A plan
When raising a bilingual child you will need to think of a plan or a strategy that suits your family. There are a few different methods to choose from depending on your family situation. First you need to decide who will speak which language and when, and think of a way you can make that work. Do you need to hire extra help to give more exposure to one of the languages, eg a nanny or language tutor. How fluent do you want your children to become? Do you want them to learn to read and write in both languages? Do you mind if they don’t have a native accent? Whatever your answers, you need to decide what your plan will be as a family and make the goals you want to achieve.
Raising a bilingual child requires different learning resources.
Books are one of the most important. Your child will need a variety of books in both languages, especially the minority language, the one the child lets the least exposure. Reading aloud to children every day has many benefits to a child’s language skills.
Music is a powerful way to teach your child a language. Most children can sing a song before starting to speak sentences, so singing songs and playing music can be a huge help in the language learning process.
If you allow screen time, then movies and cartoons are great for children who already have a good grasp of the language. It can particularly be helpful for the minority language to build extra exposure to the language. For older children there are various language apps which are available to help reading and literacy.
If one language is lacking in exposure then you may need to consider a language tutor or other options to improve it.
This is probably one of the most important things, yet also one of the most difficult. Being consistent makes the journey easier for your children. Keep to the family plan, choose your teaching method and be consistent when speaking to your children. Mixing things up only causes your expectations to be confused.
All children develop their language abilities differently and some can be slower than others, especially bilingual children who are learning two languages at once. It can be frustrating for some parents when comparing their children to their monolingual peers, however although some bilingual children may be a little behind when starting to talk, they will usually catch up well before they go to school so there is usually nothing to worry about.
Raising a bilingual child is not always easy, and many parents at some point think of giving up. There are many challenges to overcome, but by persevering you are giving your child one of the best gifts in the world, and no doubt they will be thankful for it in the future.
Chontelle Bonfiglio is the creator of Bilingual Kidspot, a website dedicated to raising bilingual and multilingual children.
With an Educational background in Social Science and Teaching English as a Foreign Language, she has travelled and worked in many countries across Europe Teaching English to children. Now, based in Italy she is successfully raising her own children in English, Italian, and Spanish.