Stella Bataille from Club Petit Pierrot shares her top tips on how to raise a bilingual child
1. START AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE
Babies and young children have an amazing capacity for learning language(s). They’re not inhibited when learning a second language, so the earlier you expose your child to another language, the better. Even babies from monolingual homes can develop bilingual abilities at an early age.
2. IMMERSE YOUR CHILD IN THE LANGUAGE(S)
Don’t translate – it’s unnecessary and besides, you want your child to absorb the language and make direct connections between it and what they are seeing or doing! Even if you don’t speak the language yourself, it’s possible to find classes and/or nannies and/or fun tools (games, songs, books, videos etc.) in the relevant language.
3. MAKE IT MEANINGFUL
Forget flash cards or lists of vocabulary to learn by heart. Young children learn by doing and because they have a need to communicate! Make sure they’re engaged in fun, age-appropriate activities whether at home, outdoors or in a class – and be sure to give them many opportunities for meaningful human interaction.
4. DON’T WORRY, BE PATIENT
Don’t worry if your child mixes up both languages at some point, this is good and shows that he or she is learning and experimenting. Be patient when your child seems to understand but is not confident answering. Never force your child to speak and don’t stop exposing them to the language!
Quality of exposure, not just quantity! Learning a language takes time and commitment, so your child needs to be exposed to the language regularly throughout his or her childhood. Moreover, not all children learn at the same pace. The way your child is taught will have a direct impact on his or her motivation and progress!