For most adults it is easy to see the benefits of being bilingual; it is a very useful communication skill, it might give you certain benefits, you can communicate with family and friend abroad and so on. But how do you get your children “onboard”? And what does it take to raise a bilingual child?
In a blogpost on Multilingual Parenting blogger Rita Rosenback shares the following tips on how to raise a bilingual child:
(The points has been shorten for this post, but can be read in full here)
1 – It doesn’t happen by magic
2 – You need a plan
3 – Consistency is crucial
4 – You will have to pay attention to exposure times
5 – You will have to invest some extra time (and sometimes maybe a bit of money)
6 – There will be doubters
7 – Don’t listen to bad advice
8 – It is not always easy
9 – Your child might answer you in the “wrong” language
10 – Your children will gain an array of benefits by becoming bilingual
11 – You will never regret it
12 – You will be proud
Rita Rosenback, 12 Things parents raising a bilingual child should know
Adding the 2
In many ways Rosenback’s 12 points highlights the experiences The Scandinavian School have gained working with bilingual children and their parents over the past 10 years regarding the challenges and the rewords of raising a bilingual child. However, there are two important points we would like to add to this great list.
Make it fun!
Language learning does not have to feel like homework. You can do really fun things while learning and practicing your second language; cooking, watching a movie (FYI, Frozen is translated into 41 languages other than English) and playing games just to name a few. When it is fun and interesting to learn and speak another language children are so much more motivated to explore it.
Make it Cool!
As said in the beginning, most adults do see bilingualism as cool. Since children often want to fit in, speaking a language which is different from the majority’s, might make them feel different - and that does not feel very cool.
Make sure that the child knows what “superpower” a second language really is; you can communicate with more people, you have “secret” language with your family - or some people in your family - and you can explore things you could not do without this language. There might be books, movies, TV show and games you need your second language to read, see and play - and that is pretty cool!
There are probably several more points to add; one of the great thing about language learning is, that there are many way to do it. We would love to hear about your experiences, tips and opinions. Leave your comment below - maybe the list of 12 plus 2 will grow even bigger.