Hitting a Multilingual Parenting Road Block: Tips and Ideas

by multilingualmania on August 30, 2011

in bilingual parenting

Family Photos 1999-2002
It’s not uncommon these days to find families with parents speaking different tongues. With advancement in global communication, we see people of different cultures and even countries interacting and coming together. One of the results of this is growing multicultural and multilingual families. This phenomenon has its own pros and cons. All these apart, you can’t deny the fact that you and your spouse both would want your children to be acquainted with your respective native languages. While it surely is a reasonable wish, it is not without any hurdles. Though it definitely is not easy to blend and bring together a multilingual family, it is neither impossible. With proper perspective and a little intelligent thinking, you could advocate both your and your spouse’s native tongue to your little ones, without too much difficulty.

Give your spouse too, a say:

First and foremost, you should understand that just like you, your spouse too would want your children to be familiar with his or her language. Moreover, you should also remember the fact that, if your kids start speaking your spouse’s native tongue, they would have a chance to easily bond with his or her parents and relations, which is a sure way to strengthen your family bonding.

Start right from the beginning:

Make sure you give equal importance to both the languages and speak both of them with your children, right when they are in the toddler stage. Start by teaching them little words in both languages. For example, if you teach them the word ‘hat’ tell them what it is called in both languages. Don’t get frustrated if they get confused and mix up both tongues. Remember that eventually, they’ll learn to differentiate. Make sure your spouse and you too, talk to each other and the members to your family in native tongue. Kids have incredible grasping powers. You will never know when they’ll hear you and catch a word or two from your conversations.

Make the learning process interesting:

No child would want to learn anything new if it is boring. Be creative. Throw in some innovative ideas to make your child want to learn more and more. Make attractive visuals to teach them better and have their attention. Read stories to them in your native tongue. Read them classics, your childhood stories and new ones too. You could even write your own stories and read them out to your child. Nothing appeals more to children than stories. You could even watch nice movies in the native language, with them.

Fill their surroundings:

Make sure they keep hearing the language constantly. Surround them with it, but do ensure not to overwhelm them. Make them spend time with their grandparents. No one else could be better teachers than grandparents when it comes to teaching children your language. Subscribe to one or two regional channels in your television. Watch them occasionally, with your family.

What they feel matters too:
The most important thing that you should never forget in this whole process, is what they feel about the native language. Narrate stories about the history of your language and the greatness of it. Kids should feel proud that they can speak their language. Cultivate that pride and reverence for your language in their hearts. They should never be ashamed of their language. Encourage them to learn new words, read and write the language by themselves.

You might wonder, “What am I doing all this for?” You might think all the effort is a waste and that your kids learning your language may not be, after all, so important. But do remember that you gain a lot by teaching your kids your language. They would get to learn a new language right from when they are kids. They would develop a new sense of self- respect and respect for their ancestors and their history and culture. Learning your own language also helps you to enhance family values and strengthen the bond between members of your family.

About the author: Amanda Kidd is an avid blogger who is herself very family oriented. She frequently comes out with unique and interesting topics like parents-children relationship, teenage fads and tips for dealing effectively with young age health issues.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

KaoZ August 31, 2011 at 5:42 am

This is good. i Always wanted to know how to best raise your children Multilingual, since my wife to be and me speak english with each other, but is neither of our native tongues… can you give me some more links or references to this issue please?
Because i guess that is no easy issue at all and my research havent brought that much new ideas!

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