Friday, October 25, 2013

Lifestyle: Bilingual parents - make sure your child speaks your native language.

I know several people who speak English as a second language. When their children are born in the US, they speak to them in their native language for the first few months, or for a few years after the child is born. Then, they tend to switch to speaking English only. Consequently, the child forgets the parents' native language or loses interest in speaking it. Throughout the years, I've tried to understand why bilingual parents fail when it comes to having their children speak their language. Let's examine some of the reasons I've gathered from friends:

1. Some people think their child will develop a foreign accent when speaking English, so they don't even try to teach or speak in their native language with the child (without realizing they're speaking English with an accent themselves, thus teaching English with an accent to their children);
2. Others believe being exposed to more than one language at an early age will confuse the children and prevent them from speaking or learning either language well, or alter their language development speed;
3. Others give the ever so common excuse that once the children go to school, they will forget the other language;
4. There are also those who think it's a hard job to teach their children another language and don't feel up to it - basically it's easier to give in.

My child, though, speaks my native language as fluently as if she had been born overseas. And her English is perfect, because she was born in the US and has been going to school here. So, how did I accomplish that? I didn't let those excuses get into my way of raising a bilingual child. I believe it's important to learn another language, and it's even better if the language comes naturally and easy when you're speaking at home and the children don't feel like they're "learning", but just going with the flow.

It's fun to speak your native language to your child when you're bilingual. Don't give up. Remember, if the child learns both languages at an early age, she will speak with no accent in either language. It's important to speak another language; it's an added skill that will serve them well in the future. One bilingual mother I know regretted profusely not speaking to her daughter in her native language. When the girl grew up, she met a guy from her mother's native country and got married, but when they moved back to his country, she didn't know how to speak the language and had a very hard time finding a job and relating to his non-English speaking family! It was such a shame. If her mother had only spoken to her when she was a child…

Don't forget what to do:
1. Always speak to your child in your native language;
2. Read books in your native language to your child often;
3. Watch videos in your native language;
4. Institute the language law in your home: only your language can be spoken!
5. Don't engage in conversations where both languages are spoken back and forth: use your language only!

I'm sure if you insist and realize the benefits of speaking to your child in your native language, the rewards and benefits will be abundant in your lives!

1 comment :

  1. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!