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Being bilingual (or even multilingual) has such huge benefit in this day and age. When I was growing up, we learned Spanish from first grade on. Sadly, that is not the case anymore and children do not learn a second language until high school. In order for us to raise a bilingual child, that education begins at home.
Our friend Jason Phillips has come up with his top 5 tips for how to raise a bilingual child. Let’s check it out!
How To Raise A Bilingual Child
Today, languages are highly valued and learning more than one language has a multitude of benefits. Parents are now doing their best to raise bilingual children. Considering the benefits that come with this, the million dollar question is how a parent should go about it.
Although there is no specific way that this should be done, there are several ways that can be more effective. The most important thing is to choose a way that you can make consistent.
5 Tips for how to raise a bilingual child
1. Use the rule of minority language at home and the community language outside
The best way to give children the gift of a new language is to make it a part of their lives. One of the best ways to raise a bilingual child is to follow the minority language at home, community language when outside.
This simply means speaking the minority language when at home and when the kids go outside, they speak the most common language in the community. By using the minority language at home with parents and other family members, you will be strengthening the exposure of the child to the language.
2. One person, One language
One of the most popular ways of raising a bilingual child is using the one person, one language strategy. This means that each person at home speaks the same language which is different from the other person when conversing with the child.
The child gets equal exposure in both languages. The most significant part of this strategy is to ensure that it is consistent. No one should switch the languages they speak while conversing with the child.
3. Listening to foreign music and watching the movies
Children are sponges for music, so a good way to let them absorb the language is through native language songs. You should get a large collection of music CDs, DVDs, and even Audio Books in the language you want your kid to learn.
Play those CDs while you do some routine things such as cleaning up or getting ready to bed. Talk with your kids about the songs, explain them the meaning. Reading books, flashcards, and doing activities related to the culture also help.
4. Time and place method
In this strategy, a parent makes a rule on when each language should be used. It could be that one language is spoken 3 days a week while the other is spoken 4 days a week. Another way would be a specific language is spoken in the morning while the other one is spoken in the evenings.
Also known as the Context Method, it basically depends on who the child is with or where they are. One important advantage about this strategy is that the child learns two languages at the same time and can speak any depending on the situation.
5. Enroll your children in a bilingual school or after school language class
There are lots of bilingual schools in every US city and most of them are really good. Keep in mind that these schools are private so the cost of tuition fee can be really high.
If your kid is already going to a private school, transferring to a bilingual one might not be much more of an expensive. It’s definitely a better option for them. Having other kids their age learning and speaking together will help them feel comfortable with the language.
Raising a bilingual child
To conclude, raising a bilingual child can be a huge challenge to any parent. As a parent, you need to be patient and persevering. A lot of effort is needed and you also need to be consistent so as not to confuse the little one.
Don’t forget, the benefits of raising a bilingual child outweighs the difficulties that you might face along the way. In lots of non-English speaking countries around the world, kids are taught to be bilingual in their native language and English, so this idea is not so innovative and crazy.
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