How Can Monolingual Parents Raise a Bilingual Child?
To help monolingual parents raise a bilingual child, we asked six experts, including CEOs and founding directors, for their best advice. From exploring classes, apps, and travel to starting early with daily language use, these leaders share their top strategies for fostering bilingualism in the next generation.
- Explore Classes, Apps, and Travel
- Combine Cultural Exposure and Language Classes
- Enroll in a Bilingual School
- Connect with Other Language Speakers
- Create an Immersive Language Environment
- Start Early with Daily Language Use
Explore Classes, Apps, and Travel
Put them into language classes, whether it’s French immersion or a weekly language class. Another way is to encourage them to use Duolingo, a great language-learning app that gives badges and boosts their confidence.
Lastly, a trip to a foreign country where they are fully immersed in the culture, schooling, and environment.
Combine Cultural Exposure and Language Classes
As a trilingual child of monolingual parents, I can say that the fact that they exposed me to music and art that was not native to me was the way to go.
I would say that music was the most helpful. Making sure I heard different sounds and languages helped me develop language skills with ease, and of course, having language classes was a must-have too.
It is essential for children to learn at least a second language, and it’s an added benefit when entering the job market.
Enroll in a Bilingual School
The best way for monolingual parents to raise their bilingual child is to put them in a bilingual school. With that, they will be exposed to other bilingual students, and they will learn the language faster and more effectively. They will also have a chance to mingle with others and become more social.
Connect with Other Language Speakers
In this situation, connecting with people who speak the other language is crucial. Parents can help their children learn a different language by allowing them to spend time with relatives, join language groups, or take classes.
The idea is that when kids spend time around others who speak different languages; they learn naturally. You can use this practice by making it a part of your child’s daily life. In this way, you can still create opportunities for them to learn another language.
Create an Immersive Language Environment
One effective way for monolingual parents to raise a bilingual child is through immersive language exposure. Even if parents only speak one language, they can create an environment where the child is consistently exposed to a second language.
This can be achieved through activities such as reading bilingual books, watching educational shows in the target language, or enrolling the child in language classes or immersion programs.
Start Early with Daily Language Use
Start introducing the second language to the child as early as possible, ideally from birth. Children’s brains are highly receptive to language during their early years, making it easier for them to learn multiple languages simultaneously. Even if the parents are monolingual, they can still use the second language at home. Incorporate basic words and phrases into daily conversations, such as greetings, simple instructions, and common expressions.
Read bilingual books or tell stories in the second language to the child. This exposes them to new vocabulary and sentence structures while making language learning enjoyable. Engage in language play and games using the second language. Activities like singing songs, playing word games, and doing language-related puzzles can make learning fun for the child.
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