My City Woman's blog on raising multilingual kids

Raising Multilingual Kids- Do’s and Don’ts

Often parents find themselves on sticky ground when they have to decide on introducing a new language to their child. We bring to you the advantages to your child of learning more than one language. We’d also try to break down the myths and give you simple do’s and don’ts when raising multi-lingual kids.

Benefits

  1. Improved reading and writing skills.
  2. Better working memory than mono-lingual kids.
  3. It’s easier to pick up a new language early on in life.
  4. Better social and analytical skills.
  5. Appreciation of other cultures very early on in life.
  6. Native language is a cultural heritage. Don’t let your child miss out on it.
  7. Better career prospects later on in life.

Myths

  1. Kids with multiple languages have delayed speech. There is no scientific evidence to prove it yet.
  2. Kids with exposure to multiple languages end up jumbling words.

According to www.multilingualchildren.org, this is may just be a temporary phenomena. The child may borrow a word from another language if he is not getting to say it in the language he wants to complete his sentence in. By the age of four or five, this would get sorted on its own as their vocabulary grows bigger. Parents should see the long term benefit of their kid learning multiple languages. What is important for the parent is to be consistent when talking to the child.

  1. It’s not the right time to introduce the new language. Honestly, the right time is now! In fact the earlier you introduce the new language , the better.
  2. We can introduce a new language when the child has learnt one language properly. According to www.multilingualchildren.org, the child can learnt two to three languages simultaneously. The process also becomes easier for both the parents and the chid.

 

Do’s

Be consistent

Follow the rule of One Parent One Language or OPOL strategy. As an example, if the father is Italian and the mother is American, let the parents talk to the child in their respective native language only.

Minority language at home

According to the site www.trilingualchildren.com, associating a certain place and time to the language can also help kids. For instance, if the minority language at home is Spanish while the county language is English, talk to the child in Spanish at home and English when outside.

Exposure –

Ensure that the child gets enough exposure to the language to be able to learn it well. To foster improved learning , read them books in the language you want your kids to learn. Introduce songs in the language. Television programs would also help greatly. Most importantly, TALK to the child in that language.

Invest your time –

Remember that no miracle can make your child multi lingual. It’s going to be a long drawn plan, effort and consistency on your part.

 

Don’t

  1. Don’t give up. Be consistent and keep on talking to the child in the language you want him or her to pick up.
  2. Don’t worry if the child mixes up words from different languages. Eventually as his vocabulary grows, it would get sorted.
  3. Don’t listen to naysayers – Its not an easy path, but the rewards it would yield to your child are many. So, shut out the naysayers.

 

In the end, you are going to be a proud parent. Knowing and speaking several languages would yield lifelong rewards to your child. It really is a life skill. Our final word to you is…NEVER, NEVER and NEVER give up!

 

Do let us know in the comments below if you found this article helpful.

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