Tips and advice for raising multilingual children

* Collaboration with Emily Jones*

We all want the best for our children, and raising your children to speak multiple languages is an (extra) something they will thank you for later! Luckily, children today have so many more possibilities and resources to learn one or more foreign languages, even before going to school. Therefore, you can help your child set their best food forward and reap the benefits of speaking multiple languages.

That being said, there are many benefits and advantages that being multilingual can give a child. Here are just a few!

  • Enables you to understand another culture better
  • Greater problem solving capabilities
  • Improved memory
  • Improved ability to process information
  • Greater multitasking skills
  • Open doors for future education and job opportunities
  • Gives you new perspective
  • Slows the effect of old age

Don’t these all sound like benefits of a skill we would like our children to have?!

So to support you in raising multilingual kids, here are some tips and pieces of advice:

Define your goals.

The first thing to really dig into is why you want your child to be multilingual. Are you an expat, an immigrant parent, or want to keep the ties to your heritage? Or do you want your child to learn a language purely for the benefit of their knowledge, education and experience? Be clear with what your intentions are, as they can drastically impact how consistent you are with encouraging your child to learn a second (or more) language.

Make a plan & determine the how.

Depending on your family’s situation, bilingual and multilingual families often divide and conquer. This could mean one parent only speaking in one language and the other in another language. Or, you could speak both languages equally.

Create a social environment with the languages you want your child to learn.

Children learn so much when they are around other children. So create opportunities for them to be around other children and people in general who are native in the language that they are learning.

Incorporate language learning into habitual and daily activities.

The little things add up when it comes to learning a language and thinking in another language. So count and say daily phrases such as ‘good night’ and ‘have a good day’ in your child’s second language.

Use interactive language apps

Bonus: you can make learning languages seem like privilege-technology time with the use of interactive language apps! Interactive languages apps can even make learning fun, so your child can focus in and learn in a gamified learning environment. A common language that is taught in schools, for example, is French. Your child can get a head start on learning how to speak French by using these apps, like Babbel for example and by following structured learning paths and being exposed to a language by playing interactive learning games. This way, when they do go to school, they have a head start in their knowledge and exposure to a language.

Make learning fun

It is only natural that you absorb the most, especially language skills, when you are happy and relaxed. So be sure to keep a positive environment when your child is learning another language. You can play games, learn songs and be creative with it!

As your children get older, talk with them about why learning another language (and this one in particular) is important.

      Think back to your goals from the start. Especially if your reason for raising your child bilingual/multilingual is for their understanding of their own culture, this is a beautiful thing to share with your child. It could also make them more motivated to learn if this, for example, means getting to speak with grandma and grandpa in their native language.

 

Remember that is important to be consistent and patient with your children (and yourself!) as they are learning. It is a big commitment to raise multilingual children and is a family effort. Your children will surely thank you for it later on!

 

 

 

 

Speak Your Mind