how to raise a bilingual child in a monolingual household

Bilingualism is relatively widespread, with estimates suggesting that over 50% of the world’s population is bilingual.

Being able to speak two languages has a myriad of benefits. Among them, it helps keep the brain sharp and healthy.

It\’s also known to improve one\’s multitasking skills, creativity, memory, and problem-solving.

You might, therefore, want to ensure that your child is bilingual. However, how do you do this when your household is monolingual?

Can Monolingual Parents Raise Bilingual/Multilingual Children?

It’s still possible to raise a bilingual child when both parents in the household only speak one language.

Granted, it will require dedication, patience, and a bit of hard work and encouragement for both yourself and your partner and even the child.

A common concern that parents raise is whether raising a bilingual child when they are not bilingual themselves can be confusing to their little one. While this is a valid concern, you should not worry too much about it.

While it has often been suggested that bilingualism slowed down learning and speech, this has not been supported by research.

So how do you go about raising a bilingual child?\"\"

Tips for Raising a Bilingual Child in a Monolingual Household?

If you would appreciate your child enjoying the benefits that come with being bilingual, here are some tips to help you go about the process the right way.

Expose them to the language

Getting language lessons is one sure way to ensure your child learns how to speak a new language correctly. However, you need to go beyond this and find ways to maximize your child\’s exposure to the new language.

This means finding after-lesson exposure such as playgroups with kids learning or those that are fluent in the same language yours is trying to learn.

There is always the option of getting a nanny that speaks the language or enroll your child in a language immersion school.

Learn the Language Yourself

It’s often said that the best way to teach a skill is by acquiring it yourself.
This could not be truer when teaching your child a new language.

Children learn their first language seemingly effortlessly because this is the language you spoke to them in, possibly long before they were born.

If kids are to learn a new language quickly, then their guardian learning it will go a long way. If you and your partner become fluent in it, you can use the language around the home, watch movies and other content in it and even enjoy traveling to countries where it is spoken.

You can read them stories in the language, leave them lunchbox notes, and so on. These are all thoughtful things that are not part of formal learning but help kids learn anyway.

Create an Encouraging Environment

Do not be overly conscious about how you speak it. The point is to speak it enough to encourage your child to do the same. This is how they will learn.

While you should not force your child to speak the new language they are learning, find subtle ways to encourage it.

Also, keep in mind that this is a skill they will perfect over time. Please do not laugh at them, make fun of their accent, or even do or say things that will make them shy away from attempting to speak.

Start Early

There is a well-defined difference between learning a new language as a teenage/young adult and doing so as a child.

In teenage or adulthood, acquiring a second or third language does not come without interference from one’s mother tongue.

This is often noted at the phonetic level, and adults tend to have a more distinct non-native accent.

On the other hand, children seem to pick up multiple accents and phonetics much more quickly.

This is why it\’s advisable to start kids on new languages as early as possible.

Show Pride and Reaffirmation

While correcting your child is okay, and indeed necessary, so is reaffirmation.

Avoid speaking up on their language skills only when they make a mistake. Instead, you and your partner should praise your child every time they switch from one language to the next.

The more your child feels reaffirmed for using their skills, the more they will want to practice them.

In addition to that, you should reaffirm them when they use their mother tongue or native language. Remember, you want the child to learn and be fluent in two languages, not to replace one with the other.

Explain Bilingualism

Children understand a lot more than they often get credit for.

It helps your child to know why learning another language is essential and how it could bring them more opportunities-and even be fun.

Point out all the places where they could put their skills to use and how learning a different language speaks positively of them overall.

Give Them Teaching Rights

If only one parent in the household is fluent in the new language, you can give your child teaching rights to teach the other parent.

This increases their confidence and makes them want to speak it more as they teach. It also enhances their own language skills, as speaking a language is among the easiest way to internalize it.\"\"

What’s the Best Age for a Child to Learn a Second Language?

People of any age can learn a new language. However, learning at an early age is always advised.

Infants are born with the ability to mimic language sounds. By ten months old, they begin narrowing sounds to those they hear around them.

You can then begin introducing a new language from your child’s first birthday.

If the first-year mark passes, it\’s advised that you wait till the two and a half year mark, or after your child has exposure to that language, often at around this time.

How to Maintain Bilingualism

Essentially, the trick to maintaining bilingualism is simple: constant practice and usage.

This does not have to be through speaking alone. If your child is also nurturing a hobby at two, you can find instructors who speak the additional language to increase their exposure and vocabulary.

As you do this, you can maintain your native language at home. This means they get to use both languages in different settings.

The long and short of it is consistency. If they use language skills more often, the more the new lingo gets ingrained in their minds. The minute you let usage slide, they begin progressively forgetting how to pronounce certain words or string them along.

Once your child has gotten basic skills, ensure that you enroll them in advanced classes.

This will ensure that they are growing new skills as they maintain already learned ones.

Last Word

Learning a new language is a process. Often, parents experience regression with their kids after making good progress.

This often happens, and although it can be frustrating, you can get over this phase with some patience and get right back on track.

Similarly, research widely on this subject. Unfortunately, there are many myths surrounding raising a bilingual child. Indeed, you might hear comments regarding this from friends, family, and other parents.

Luckily, once you are clear on the benefits and can closely monitor your child, you will quickly learn that these myths are just that. In time, you will be happy that you gave your child this gift.

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