Tips to Raise a Bilingual Child

The ability to speak in more than one language is becoming increasingly desirable. Bilingualism provides social, economic, and intellectual advantages. More than 80% of Americans support bilingualism for children by the time they graduate high school.

Tips to Raise a Bilingual Child

If you want to raise a bilingual child, here are six evidence-based suggestions that will help you promote successful language acquisition in children. These tips can help you if you do not speak another language yourself.

Increase language quantity

It is vital to provide your child with the richest language input possible. The more linguistic input they receive, the higher the chances they successfully learn several languages. By exposing their children to many words, parents can help them gain a vocabulary base. Not only does this provide intellectual stimulation and improve professional writing skills, but it also provides parents with an easy way to expose their children to another culture and language.

Children are vulnerable to language input. They need to have stimulating face-to-face interactions with caregivers to learn. For example, reading books to children supports language development, not watching TV passively. Low-quality TV has been associated with lower vocabulary scores in bilingual children. Aim for more face time and educational or high-quality children’s TV when possible.

Enlist the help of family and friends

Another predictor of language growth is input variability. People who interact with many different native speakers can boost their bilingual proficiency. For example, children can interact with grandparents who speak another language or with friends who speak another language. 

Select the best strategy for your family

bilingual family

The best way to expose your child to two languages is by finding what works for you. There is no single approach that is the best for raising bilingual children. Research has found several effective methods.

For example, one way to raise bilingual kids is the “one person one language” approach. For instance, Parent A and Parent B speak different languages, and they alternate between them. Another common approach includes exposing your child to one language at home and the second one in school. It can be a different language each day of the week, or you can speak to your child in a different language every day.

You can develop your strategy to help children learn. For example, some kids are fluent in Spanish, they can watch cartoons in English. It may help to switch the movie to Spanish the next time.

Consider bilingual education

To ensure a bilingual upbringing for your child, make sure to use a preschool with a babysitter or caregiver who speaks a different language. Continue this aspect by enrolling your child in a school with a two-way immersion program. These programs teach content classes in two languages and include students of both native languages in the same classroom. Our research shows that these programs not only promote academic success but increase the likelihood of children learning the two languages fluently.

If you do not have access to language immersion programs in your school, you might want to take a look at other alternatives. Language lessons outside of school hours or on weekends are a good way to get kids interested in languages. Places of worship can also be useful resources for students if their faith is associated with a specific language.

Let your child lead the way

bilingual child

The best way to get your child to learn a new language is by following their interest and building on what they are already learning. Language development is the most successful when children interact with adults who are attentive and sensitive to their needs. Your child will be more likely to learn two languages if they are engaged during both activities. To encourage learning, try finding activities involving two languages that interest your child.

Continue educating yourself about bilingual language development

Bilingualism is one of many hot topics in today’s society. It has grown into a “hot button issue” because of the growing demand for bilingual citizens. Bilinguals are seen as an advantage to society, but misconceptions still surround the topic. There are the beliefs that bilingual children experience language disorders or learning disabilities, but these beliefs are false. Bilinguals are achieving important language milestones at the same rate as monolingual children.

Final thoughts

Raising a bilingual child can be difficult. In the end, the most important thing to do is provide nurturing support. A big decision to make is whether to have one language spoken at home mix both English and second language. Think about the area of the country where you live and what resources are available to you. Focus on raising a happy child. Another crucial decision is how to teach your child two languages.

Tips to Raise a Bilingual Child 1

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