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How to Raise a Bilingual Child?
The number of families who use two or more languages on daily basis is constantly increasing. Parents raising children in mixed families must find a way how to make it easier for the whole family to learn and use several languages at the same time. Psycholinguists who study bilingualism or multilingualism in families point out a few methods. What are these methods?
One Person – One Language
Mixed families choose this method most often. Families who choose it, try to give the kids the opportunity to speak the languages of both parents. For example, a mother speaks with her child in her native language and a father speaks in his own. Initially kids mix words and make sentences of words or grammatical structure from both languages, later they have sufficient vocabulary and can speak both languages very well.
To achieve this result, additional natural language learning situations need to be created, such as time on playgrounds, visits by other family members, a nanny who speaks one of the languages. Naturally, one language can be used less, so it is important to create an environment where children are often exposed to a lesser-used language, thus maintaining a balance between the two languages of the family. Therefore, it is possible to choose language schools on weekends, games or reading books.
One Language First
Usually, parents decide to teach their kids the less widely spoken language first, and later the parents start teaching another language. The second language begins to be used in everyday communication about the fourth or fifth year. This method of developing bilingualism is intuitively chosen by many mixed families who lives in a country that is native to one of the parents.
For example, a French woman with an Egyptian husband lives in Egypt and has a child. While the mother was raising the child at home for the first few years, the kid learned French fluently, but at the time did not speak Arabic. The child understood a little bit of Arabic and English, as dad mostly spoke in Arabic to the kid and parents use English with each other. Children raised in this way learn other languages very quickly when they start attending kindergarten or school.
By choosing this method, parents determine when to speak one language and when to speak another. Usually, this can be the use of one language in the morning and another in the evening. This method of forming bilingualism is often chosen in mixed families for convenience. For example, a mother raising children at home speaks to them in her native language in the morning while dad is working. And in the evening, when the whole family gathers at home and spends their time together, they speak in another language. Furthermore, the method of language time does not have to be understood only as the time of day when speaking different languages, it can also be a longer period. For example, in the country of residence, it is possible to speak the local language on a regular basis, while on holiday in another country, the rule only another language is used. However, this method is most useful when it is combined with other methods of multilingualism.