It’s pretty tough to disagree that teaching children to learn a second language is wonderful! The benefits are evident; not only is it genuinely fulfilling and fun to do, when our children are older, the opportunities will be fantastic. But can we get it wrong when we are raising bilingual children?
As well the enhancements to their social skills, awareness of other cultures and travel opportunities, bilingual people have greater access to resources and the ability to communicate with a wider range of individuals, decisiveness, creativity and the ability to focus attention are heightened and greater employment opportunities will be presented. The gift of bilingualism really is priceless.
At Vici, we embrace a number of highly effective methods of raising our children as young bilinguals. We wholeheartedly support families of mixed nationalities who are driven to share their language and pass on their culture to their children. However, there are several common mistakes that people make which can be avoided.
Lack of consistency
Being disciplined is vital. Children thrive on habit and will be put off if they’re expecting one thing and they get another. Find a way that works and stick with it. Using particular words during daily routines will help children to build up their knowledge. Repetition is key.
Turning bilingualism into a chore
Playing word games, singing songs and teaching little poems are all great ways to keep children engaged and interested when learning a second language. Keeping it light-hearted and fun is a guaranteed method of helping your child to remain involved and enjoy it! Be careful not to allow negativity to creep in by correcting your kids too much. By all means remain observant but don’t discourage by jumping on every minor error. It’s a surefire way to put your children off.
Switching from one language to the other
Immersion works. Sticking with one language at a time will help to focus the mind. It may be tempting to jump from one language to another but this will lead to confusion and your young learners potentially becoming disheartened.
Your child is not speaking your language
Children need more opportunities to use the language beyond just you and your own home. Set up a playgroup in your community, find a babysitter in your target language, Skype with relatives as often as you can and the golden rule: save up your pennies for that family trip abroad! And keep speaking your language CONSISTENTLY!
Watching children grow and learn is such a pleasure. And developing a world of bilingual individuals is a passion for the Vici team. If you’d like a little support and guidance on raising bilingual children then get in touch. It’s what we do!