In this increasingly globalized and diverse world, the ability to speak more than one language is a highly desirable trait, especially because bilingualism confers social, economic, as well as intellectual benefits. Raising bilingual children can be a lot of work at times, and it is a long-term commitment.
Though there are various different ways to raise a bilingual child, these are one of the most sought-after strategies.
1. Follow a one person, one language approach
This approach is often regarded as the best method for teaching a child two languages because it is believed that it results in less mixing while ensuring that your baby has regular exposure to both languages. However, it requires a lot of dedication from the parents to avoid mixing languages.This method involves one person speaking to the child in one language while another speaks to him in another. If this method is used, your child will have equal exposure to both languages, and to learn them gradually.
2. Listen to and sing songs
Try singing and playing music in the minority language. A melody allows children to memorize phrases and words that they would not be able to remember otherwise, and lyrics help to broaden their vocabulary. It's also a lot of fun!
3. Arrange playdates with children who speak other languages
Playdates with other bilingual children are a fun activity for both children and parents. Finding a social circle of other families who are raising bilingual children allows your children to engage in play and language time while also allowing you to share ideas and common interests with other parents.
4. Watch shows in the target language
When used wisely, screen time can be beneficial to bilingual children's language development. Allow your child to watch programs and play games in the minority language that can help with exposure to the targeted language. Watching cartoons and shows is an interesting and entertaining way to learn a language. This can help your child learn the language and also to understand the culture associated with it.
5. Enrolling your child in an immersion program
You can also enroll your child in language programs designed specifically for their age group. These programs employ a variety of strategies to teach language to children. It will be even more beneficial if you can practice the language with your child.
6. Read aloud to your child every day
Reading is one of the keys to language development. Practice reading aloud to your child in the minority language for at least 15 minutes everyday. This is an essential practice for developing good bilingual ability while also improving your child's vocabulary.
7. Travel when possible
Trips to areas where the minority language is widely spoken can be one of the most effective ways of promoting language development and a greater cultural understanding.
8. Locate a caregiver who is fluent in the minority language
If you are a working parent, finding a bilingual caregiver who speaks a minority language is an excellent way to provide your children with additional exposure to languages.
Raising a bilingual child is a long-term project that will not produce results in a day or two. So be persistent and patient as the advantages of raising a bilingual child far outweigh the difficulties involved. Although there are no universal rules to follow when it comes to raising a bilingual child, the most important thing to do as a parent is to provide nurturing support.
At the end of the day, focus on raising a happy child, everything else is an added bonus!