Raising Your Children To Be Bilingual

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Updated: Friday, August 3, 2012, 15:28 [IST]

Raising Your Children To Be Bilingual

It is true that children pick up languages much faster than we do. However, to raise a child who will speak more than one language is a challenge that you cannot win without some special parenting tips. You must understand that being bilingual poses some unique challenges to the child, and you as a parent must be able to understand them.

If you want to raise your children to be bilingual successfully, then you must follow certain ground rules. Here are some tips to help you raise a child who can speak multiple languages well.

Tips To Raise Bilingual Children:

1. One language at a time: When your baby speaks for the first time, it will be in a particular language. That language is the child's mother tongue, the second language that your child must picks up usually is English (on a global basis) or any other local language. Expose your child to one language at a time so that he or she does not get confused. Once your kid is thorough with one language, move on to the next.

2. No mixing languages: The urban tongue is a pot pourri of languages. Most cosmopolitan cities have people speaking a dozen different languages. So kids these days speak a mishmash of two or three languages at once. As a parent, you must not support this. Every time they use words from two different languages together, correct them.

3. Jack of both languages: There is an old English saying that makes a lot of sense here. 'Jack of all trades, master of none'. You do not really want that for your child. If your children have to be bilingual in the truest sense, then they have to be master of both languages. Make a rule that your child must speak only his or her mother tongue at home and the second language must be used for all other communications with the outside world.

4. Literate in both languages: When the baby speaks for the first time, it is usually in the mother tongue. As soon as he or she starts going to school, the second language or language of instruction in school becomes his or her first language. They learn to read, write and even think in this language. However, many researchers say that we express best in our mother tongue. So, you must ensure that your kids learn to read and write in both languages. The easiest way to do this is to raise your child to read literature in both languages. Reading books in a particular language helps you connect with the language at the cognitive level.

These are some tips for parents who are raising bilingual children. Have you faced any other challenges while teaching languages to your children?

Topics: parenting tips, kids
 
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Story first published:  Friday, August 3, 2012, 15:19 [IST]
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