Raising Bilingual Children – Mistakes Parents Make
Raising bilingual children can be challenging. As parents, we are always going to make mistakes.
Parenting is a learning journey and the most important thing, is that we learn from them, and from those of others.
From speaking to many parents who are raising bilingual or multilingual children, I have compiled a list of the most common mistakes:
1. Thinking your child will automatically become bilingual
One of the most common mistakes parents make raising bilingual children is that they think that because they speak a language, that they can automatically pass it onto their child.
This is definitely not the case. Raising bilingual children takes effort and a lot of patience and if taken for granted your child can end up being a passive bilingual, meaning they understand what you are saying, but are unable to speak back.
You will need to spend time with your child constantly talking to them, reading, doing activities, and anything else that will encourage them to speak in the language.
2. Assuming TV will teach your child a language
Children need human interaction to learn a language. Simply putting them in front of a TV will not teach them.
If your child has a basic understanding already, then TV and other media such as apps can surely improve it, however speaking, reading, and playing with your child is the best method.
3. Buying expensive toys and materials
Raising bilingual children doesn’t have to be expensive. Your child doesn’t need lots of expensive materials, a few simple things to use to aid their language development is enough.
The main thing is using them in the right way to encourage conversation with you. Reading books are fantastic for this, reading to your child is one of the best ways to build their vocabulary and aid in their comprehension.
4. Correcting your child too much
By correcting your child every time they make a mistake you are stopping the flow of talking and disrupting them.
While it is essential to correct important mistakes, it is important to know when to let some things go.
5. Not being Consistent
One of the main mistakes parents make when raising bilingual children is not being consistent.
If you have a plan, make sure you stick to it. Whichever language strategy you use, whether it be OPOL, Minority Language At Home or another method, be consistent with it. Just like anything in life, practice makes perfect.
6. Thinking it is too late
Never think it is too late! There are many things you can do to introduce a new language and give them enough exposure for them to become bilingual.
Of course the younger they are the easier it is. However children can learn a language at any age, and so can adults for that matter.
7. Listening to negative comments or advice
There are always going to be people who think it can’t be done, and others that think it is useless
. There are so many myths and misconceptions about raising bilingual children and everyone is going to have an opinion.
The best thing is to ignore any negative comments or advice and concentrate on the positives and why you want to raise your children to become bilingual.
8. Giving up
Don’t give up!!! It may seem hard initially but it will all be worth it. Children don’t learn languages overnight, so don’t expect results right away.
Understanding comes before speaking and children need to hear words and phrases consistently. If you need to, seek support from outsiders such as in our FACEBOOK GROUP, your children will thank you in the long run.
Raising Bilingual Children
Raising bilingual children is a journey, and a great one at that. Yes we will make mistakes, but we can learn from them, and others. Good luck!
- Benefits of being bilingual
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Thanks so much!
I find a lot of encouragement from this particular post! I will keep it up and help my children with all the languages they are to learn, no matter whether or not I know it myself!
Dianna K. Goneau Inkstwer
I’d say getting a school started in the minority language is the best idea yet. The child needs contact with other speakers of the minority language, not just his parents and the internet or the television. .
Hello Chontelle, I saw your blog on Milingual Monkeys. You have some really helpful and realistic suggestions, thanks!
I’m also an English-speaker (American) living in Italy – Viareggio to be precise – I was wondering if you know of any play groups or activities that I can get my 2-year-old son involved in, now or in the future. I’m working on putting together an after school group at our private daycare where the kids can do activities in English, but I’m always looking for more ways to enrich his exposure to English, even though I love Italian, too. The good news is that he’s a talkative little guy and a fast learner.
Thank you, I am glad the suggestions were helpful.
I am really not sure about groups in Viareggio however if you are able to travel to Lucca there are a few opportunities.
Take a look here: http://www.thebilingualschooloflucca.it/en/projects/tiddlywinks they have a bilingual school and playgroup.
I am sure if you organise a private English daycare you will get a lot of interest. I find, as an English native living in Italy, wherever I go I am constantly asked to teach English.
Make sure to like the facebook page as I post a lot of articles on the minority language. There is also a private discussion/support group that you can join if you are intersted: https://www.facebook.com/groups/891939147594914/
Good luck with it, let me know how you go 🙂
Such great information! I love your point that it’s never too late. I also believe consistency is key with almost everything for our kids.