Bilingual is Better


5 Things To Avoid When Raising Bilingual Children -

Raising bilingual kids is no easy task. That’s why I’m never surprised when I hear from parents who say they had every intention of making it happen with their children, but somehow things didn’t go as planned. While there is no right or wrong way of raising bilingual children, I do think there are some of the things we parents have been known to do which tend to hinder the process.

But before I get to the list, I just want to emphasize that perseverance is probably the most essential trait you need when raising bilingual children. I promise even when it feels like you’re failing or you’re not seeing the results as quickly as you’d like, if you just keep at it, in the end, it will all be worth it.

5 Things To Avoid When Raising Bilingual Kids:

1) Be consistent, yes, but don’t be inflexible. Speaking the second language should not become a burdensome task for your children. Try to make it as fun and natural as possible without making rules that can’t be broken. Otherwise, it will become a struggle — especially the older your children get — and you might eventually feel like you won’t win the uphill battle.

2) Along the same lines, instead of correcting every single mistake your child makes, try repeating what he just said the correct way. Be patient, making mistakes is part of the process. Again, if you make a huge deal out of this, the whole thing will just become a punishing chore and your children will most likely fail. Praise them endlessly instead! Motivation will make a huge difference.

3) Caving in to what “others” have to say about your decision to raise your children bilingual will get you nowhere. Let’s face it, myths about bilingualism abound, especially in this country where being monolingual is the norm. People —whether it be your in-laws, neighbors, so-called friend and even some teachers & pediatricians — will always have something to say when you decide to do things “differently.” Do your own research, surround yourself with others in the same boat, ask for a second opinion (if the negative comments are coming from a “professional”). In the end, you are the parent and it is up to you to decide what is best for your kids.

4) Using movies, music and apps in the minority language is great, as long as they’re used as supplements. Sitting your child in front of the set to watch the Spanish version of Tangled, for example, will do her no good if this is the only exposure she has to the language the whole entire day. Although it is better than nothing, you need to speak to your child directly and intently. The more she hears you speak the minority language, the more she will learn.

5) Thinking it’s way too late to start. Let’s see in how many ways I can say this: Late is better than never. It is never too late. If not now, probably never. It’s easier the earlier you start, but it is not impossible if you start later.

It is totally normal to feel like giving up at some point along the journey. Feelings of discouragement are part of the process, but when you do feel like that, try to look for support from others who are also raising bilingual kids. Please remember you can always come to SpanglishBaby to let us know what’s bothering you or the struggles you’re going through, we promise to remind you of the value of your decision, but most of all, we promise to be a place where you will find a supporting community of parents in the same journey.

Have you ever thought about giving up? What has stopped? What advice would you give a parent that’s thinking about giving up?

{Photo by World Bank Photo Collection}

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