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Raising Bilingual Children

Bilingual Parenting, Getting Started

8 Mistakes Parents Make when Raising Bilingual Children

Bilingual Parenting Mistakes

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 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 sure some TV can help improve it, however speaking, reading, and playing with your child is the best method.

Parenting-Mistakes-Raising-Bilingual-Children-Bilingual- Kidspot

TV will not teach your child a language, children need human interaction.

3. Buying expensive toys and materials

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. 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 is not being consistent. If you have a plan, make sure you stick to it. Whichever bilingual parenting method you use, 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, your children will thank you in the long run.

This Article by Bilingual Kidspot was featured on Huffington Post

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3 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. Hannah

    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.
    Tanti saluti!

    • Bilingualkidspot

      Hi Hannah,
      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 🙂
      Chontelle

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