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Thread: Bilingual household
June 14th, 2013 11:51 AM #1
I don't have kids yet, so this question is just a daydream.
In the future, I would like to raise my children with two languages in the house but I wouldn't know how to. I know some people who have done this but they were not very helpful when I asked them. Can you Berries help me out with how to do it? I think it would be very helpful for the children when they are older, and a good world skill.
If any Berries out there raise their children bilingually/are planning too/know someone who does or if you have any advice it would be appreciated! Thank you.~Mehri
June 14th, 2013 12:24 PM #3Junior Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2013
I'm currently expecting my first child, but I can tell you what worked with my step son when he was a toddler. I started practicing words in English and Spanish with him. I would show him a picture and say the word describing it first in English, make him repeat it, and then in Spanish, making him repeat the word in Spanish again. I'm happy to say that he's in kindergarten and can hold a basic conversation in Spanish. We started about two years ago. It's really just about being consistant. Whether you're using visual aids, or just speaking in both languages. Babies/Children will pick it up pretty quickly either way.
June 14th, 2013 12:25 PM #5
We will be raising our daughter in a bilingual home. One set of grandparents speak English and one speak Polish, DH is bilingual. It'll be tricky for us at the beginning because we aren't both bilingual and he is used to speaking English with me at home, but if we want our children to be able to have a relationship with their whole family, it's necessary. Plus there are so many brain benefits of having a second language early on.
As far as the "how"...many families do the one parent/one language (in our case, she'd speak English with mom and Polish with dad). We may not be that strict, it'll likely be more English with mom, Polish with grandmother (who lives close and is planning to be quite involved with childcare during the week), and both with dad and see how it goes. I'm sure we'll learn plenty by trial and error with our first. Speaking purely from friends stories, bilingual kids sometimes take a little longer to start talking, but when they do, there's very little confusion, they pick up which words/sentence structures go with which language and which language goes with which family member remarkably well. We'll probably look into formal lessons later on just to hone grammar and balance out the English she'll get at school, but that's a ways off still.
Hope that's what you were looking for!
June 14th, 2013 12:28 PM #7
I plan to raise my children bilingual, however, I am not technically bilingual myself. I took Chinese in college. It was not offered in my elementary or high school system, unfortunately. So I consider myself proficient, but definitely not fluent.
My mom had originally tried. Apparently when I was 1, I could speak Chinese pretty well (she took me to Taiwan for 3 months while my dad was in the Navy). My dad, however, only spoke English and it became very hard for him to take care of me when he didn't know what I wanted. My mom would have to translate, so they chose to stick to English. (and didn't bother teaching my sister at all)
Another one of my friends, her parents are originally from Puerto Rico, so they spoke Spanish, but because their daughters were getting behind in school due to not being able to speak English as well as others, they switched to just speaking English. In the end my friend and her sister both took Spanish in High School and now College. She plans on raising her kids bilingual as well.
My mom's friend almost had a marriage fall apart because of raising her daughter bilingual. Their daughter was only supposed to speak English to her dad and Chinese to her mom. This is just not a great idea and the dad felt the daughter and mother were keeping secrets from him. They worked it out now, but that's something to keep in mind.
So basically from that, I've come to the conclusion that it's a very hard thing to do, especially if only one parent is bilingual and other is not. It's another stress on the marriage and the child. When should they speak one language over the other?
However, despite this, and as I said, I plan to raise my children bilingual. BUT, I live in an area where there are Chinese immersion programs and my intention is that they speak and learn Chinese at school, they come home and I'll help with homework and practice with them, but whenever Dad is involved, we will all speak English.
I also think a neat thing would be that if they did speak to me in Chinese saying that they wanted/needed something, I'd praise them, and then tell them to say it in English so dad knows and we'll make the decision together.
I don't have children yet, but we definitely want our children to be bilingual, it gives them much more opportunity in life.
Last edited by catloverd; June 14th, 2013 at 04:22 PM.
June 14th, 2013 01:36 PM #9
Hi there! I don't have kids yet, but I would like my kids to potentially be multilingual. I am learning Mandarin so that my (future) half-Chinese kids can have more exposure to Mandarin, and hope to send our kids to French immersion so they'll learn French as well. (French immersion is quite common in this part of Canada.)
This site is great for tips on raising multilingual families: http://www.multilingualliving.com/ They have contributions from lots of parents who are trying in all different ways to raise their children bilingually. The most common way is called OPOL, one-parent, one-language, though some families find that can make it hard to feel like a family. It works best when both parents at least understand each others' languages so they don't have the problem catloverd mentioned above. Others try speaking one language in the morning, and another in the afternoon. From what I gather, the most important thing is to have a plan so you don't get lazy and skip the second language when it gets too hard. You can also try getting books, DVDs, etc. in the both languages, so you're not defaulting to the common language where you live.Miriam ~ Helena ~ Estella ~ Beatrice ~ Anastasia ~ Alice ~ Marilla ~ SarahPaul ~ Wesley ~ Walter ~ Edmund ~ Isaac ~ Abram ~ Gabriel
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