Bilingual is Better

5 Ways Multilingualism Can Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem

I’ve always been a shy child. But I’ve always been extremely proud of speaking another language. Here are five ways being bilingual helped boost my own self-esteem:

1) It has given me strong communication skills

Remember the first time you tried out your newly-learned language skills and managed to get out a full sentence and get a reaction that wasn’t confusion, but rather an answer to your question or a response to your request? Remember how confident you felt? The realization that you can talk to people and feel understood can give a great boost to your self-esteem and further motivate you to learn the language even better. For your child, it is similar. I love seeing the look on my daughter’s face when she realizes that she can communicate in another language. It’s about believing in your abilities.

2) It has allowed me to help others

I still remember how proud I was to help German tourists find their way in my hometown of Warsaw. I usually enjoy helping people, and through my knowledge of languages, I could help other children at school if they didn’t speak German so well. The knowledge that your kids can help people just by speaking another language can give them a powerful tool for helping others and make them feel more confident that way.

3) It helped me be proud of my differences

I always felt proud to speak another language so proficiently, even as a child with confidence issues. I knew this set me apart from other children who weren’t bilingual. I knew it was good to be different, and I really think that my strong knowledge of German in childhood made me a more resilient adult.

4) It helped me feel like I belonged

My knowledge of German got me into a better school than I could have hoped. It was a school with a strong German language program. There, I met like-minded people, and finally made friends. We knew that our school and our class set us apart from other schools, but it also made me feel welcome. As parents, we sent our child to an international school because we wanted her to feel normal speaking so many languages, but at the same time, make her understand that the mixture of language she is speaking is absolutely unique.

5) It brought me closer to my family

My parents are both multilingual and it allowed us to have a very special family language that nobody understood. A good relationship with my children is extremely important to me. With my eldest, we have our little Polish jokes, but at the same time, I also speak all languages she does. I believe that a good relationship with their parents can boost a child’s self-esteem. And I know that one of the ways of connecting with my children is through my and their multilingualism.

I know that these are just a few ways of boosting your child’s self-esteem. There are many more. But I also believe that this is even more of a reason to raise your child with multiple languages.

IMG_0089Olga Mecking is a Polish woman living in the Netherlands with her German husband. Together, they raise three trilingual children. Olga is also a trainer in intercultural communication, translator and blogger at The European Mama, which is a blog about multilingualism, expat life and parenting.You can find Olga over at her blog, her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter.

{Image courtesy of Olga Mecking}

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