The following tips on bilingual parenting are Courtesy of La Piccola Scuola Italiana, San Francisco, California
Visit www.lpsisf.com for additional educational resources.
- Choose a pattern and go with it.
- Parents need this discipline/structure even more than the children.
- Children can learn two or more languages even in chaos, but a reasonable amount of consistency makes their job much easier.
- Once children learn the pattern, they are often disturbed if a parent breaks it.
PROVIDE A LINGUISTICALLY RICH ENVIRONMENT
- Fill your days with songs, bedtime stories, chitchat and conversation in both languages, including time with native speakers as much as possible.
- This can mean an extra demand on your time and energy.
- Use books, audiotapes and CDs, videotapes and DVDs, and bilingual or immersion language programs.
RECOGNIZE CHILDREN’S EMOTIONAL NEEDS
- Children should not be forced into bilingualism.
- Children should not be asked to “show off.” This can embarrass children and can make them feel different, casting a lingering negative pall on their bilingualism.
- Do not make drastic abrupt changes in your child’s language environment, such as suddenly speaking only a language that you have not used with your child before. This can be quite stressful, especially if the shock comes from the primary caregiver or parent. Introduce a new language with a gradual steady change instead.
- The more you make bilingualism seem like a natural and unremarkable part of family life, the more likely your children are to enjoy being bilingual.
IF YOUR CHILD HAS LANGUAGE DELAYS
You do not necessarily have to raise your child monolingually. Even children with Down’s Syndrome and other pronounced learning differences successfully become bilingual.
The two most important points are:
- Speak to your child in a way that feels natural and that you can sustain for a long period of time.
- Try to be as consistent as possible in the way that you expose your child to the two languages.