Raising bilingual: Two languages, many opportunities.
The decision to raise our son to be bilingual in Spanish and English was a rather easy one to make. Our personal reasons were very clear: we wanted our son not only to learn both languages but also feel, love and embrace his cultural roots.
Just before Santiago started the nursery, I wondered how he was going to survive all those hours surrounded solely by English speaking environment. I was concerned that others would think he had ‘no manners’ because even though he already understood the concept of “Thanks” and “Please’’, he was used to reply to me in Spanish ‘’Gracias’’ and ‘’Por favor’’. I explained the situation to his teachers and they reassured me everything would be fine.
To be honest, before he was born, we didn’t really give much thought to what method we’d use to raise our son bilingual. I mean, both my husband and I knew we were going to speak to him only in Spanish because he’d learn English at school and truth be told, I didn’t even know there was a name for the method we were about to use.
I began searching for information on raising bilingual children and my initial find revealed that there are different methods to do so. There are two very popular methods known as: “One Parent, One Language” (OPOL) in which one parent speaks exclusively to the child in the minority language, while the other uses only the local or majority language and the second method called “Minority Language at Home (mL@H) which is self-explanatory and also from these two you can also can find several combinations of them.
Whether you use OPOL or mL@H, it is extremely important to have resources and activities to constantly immerse your child in the second language in a fun, meaningful and playful way.
Here I would like to share some of those activities that really worked out for us:
1. Join Playgoups in your minority language
Why? Because it is a very natural way to expose and engage your children with the language. Many of them use music and arts especially designed to motivate children’s learning through interactive play. Also it is a great opportunity to meet other parents and create a community where we can share our culture, tradition and values.
2. Storytime in the Second Language
We have made this activity a sacred moment that we almost never skip; also researches suggest that children learn more vocabulary when being read to than through normal conversation.
3. Travel to your Native Country
Perhaps the most naturally and effective way to boost and improve the language acquisition plus you get to visit your relatives and this learning-love adventure is priceless.
No matter which method and activity your family chooses to use, the key element is always consistency and most important of all, never give up.
We’d love to hear from you so why not share with us how you promote language learning outside home? Email us at email@example.com
Lorena Melone: Marketing and web communications consultant, she is a multicultural and bilingual mom committed to holding on to her heritage. For the past 3 years she swapped career in the corporate world “for a life” as she is living her dream of being an entrepreneur.
Lorena is the person behind ”I for Ideas” where she shares and help other mums to uplift and take their businesses to the next level.
You can follow Lorena on Twitter: http://twitter.com/iforideas