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Jan 282013
 

How many of us parents of bilingual children haven’t heard that comment? It might put doubts in your mind – are you actually doing more harm than good to your child’s development?

The simple answer is: no, you are not disadvantaging your children by bringing them up to be bilingual. On the contrary, you are making an array of benefits available to them. It is sad to see how multilingual parents take criticism like this to heart to the extent that they actually give up on passing on their languages. If you are in doubt, speak to someone who has been successful at raising bilingual children, don’t give up!

Children growing up with family members speaking different languages are no more confused about their language or identity than monolingual children. Yes, there might (but not always) be a slight delay in their speech development, but this minor drawback is well outweighed by the several benefits later in life.

If the adults in a family are consistent in their language use when addressing the child, very soon the child will identify the language with that person. My eldest daughter Minna translated for me for the first time at the tender age of two, concerned that I wouldn’t know what her dad was saying to her.

Even children that hear adults switching between languages will quickly learn how to be consistent about their own language use as long as they also get the chance to spend time with monolingual speakers of the language.

As far as (cultural) identity goes, speaking both or all of your family’s languages only goes to strengthen your self-image. Knowing the languages of your heritage allows you to directly explore and understand it in a more genuine way than through a different language.

Instead of getting confused by more than one language in a family, children also learn at an early age to see things from a different perspective, thus becoming more open-minded. In tests, bilingual children have on average shown a more tolerant behaviour towards anything “out of the norm” than their monolingual peers.

Comments about confusing your children by using different languages in the family, no matter how well-meant, are best not even commented on – there is quite often nothing you can do if someone has made up their mind about it. My technique was always to politely say “Thank you, I will think about that” – then switch to another topic.

May the peace and power be with you!

Yours,
Rita

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 Posted by at 3:55 pm

  30 Responses to ““You are confusing your child!””

  1. […] you have decided to raise a bilingual child you will come across those who question your decision. Some may (incorrectly) think that you are doing your children a disfavour by […]

  2. […] them that I don’t know where to start. In my opinion, the most damaging ones are: 1. that you confuse your children by having them learn two languages when they grow up – not true, millions of […]

  3. […] Others will think that you are expecting too much of your children, and some will say that you are confusing your children with all these languages. Ignore these doubters, but also forgive them, as they do not know what […]

  4. If only I could get the so-called professionals at the local Paediatric Mental Health Centre to read that… today they not only told me I was confusing my child, they also accused me of deliberately exacerbating his special needs with bilingualism. It really is an uphill struggle!

  5. […] Others will think that you are expecting too much of your children, and some will say that you are confusing your children with all these languages. Ignore these doubters, but also forgive them, as they do not know what […]

  6. […] the case. Still today, when the benefits of bilingualism are widely known and the old myths about confusion and language delay dispelled, some parents still have to defend their […]

  7. […] of bilingualism? Many parents of bilingual children have had to answer questions about why they are confusing their child or why they are making their child’s life so much more difficult with the many languages in the […]

  8. […] finden, andere werden vorwerfen, man verlange zu viel von den Kindern oder man würde gar die Kinder verwirren. Man sollte diese Art Kommentare von Zweiflern ignorieren und ihnen vergeben: sie wissen nicht, von […]

  9. […] suas expectativas são muito grandes em relação aos seus filhos e outros dirão que você esta confundindo seus filhos com todos esses idiomas. Ignore esses duvidadores, mas também os perdoe, porque eles não sabem o […]

  10. […] 不是每个人都会同意你,认为培育小孩会说全部的家庭语言是个好主意。有些人会认为,这没有意义,一定不会成功。有些人认为你对小孩期望太高,有些人会说妳正让你的小孩搞混所有的语言。忽略这质疑,但要原谅他们,因为他们不知道自己在说甚么。 […]

  11. […] 不是每個人都會同意你,認為培育小孩會說全部的家庭語言是個好主意。有些人會認為,這沒有意義,一定不會成功。有些人認為你對小孩期望太高,有些人會說妳正讓你的小孩搞混所有的語言。忽略這質疑,但要原諒他們,因為他們不知道自己在說甚麼。 […]

  12. […] fungera. Andra kan tycka att du kräver för mycket av barnen, medan några kanske tycker att du förvirrar dina barn med alla dessa språk. Ignorera dessa tvivlare, men förlåt dem, eftersom de inte vet vad […]

  13. […] πάρα πολλά από το παιδί σας και άλλοι θα πούνε ότι μπερδέυετε το παιδί σας με όλες αυτές τις γλώσσες. Αγνοείστε όλους αυτούς τους […]

  14. […] go bhfuil sibh ag cur brú ar na páistí agus déarfaidh daoine eile go bhfuil na teangacha uile ag cur mearbhaill ar na páistí.  Scaoiligí tharaibh lucht an amhrais ach maithigí dóibh é, mar ní thuigeann siad […]

  15. […] suas expectativas são muito grandes em relação aos seus filhos e outros dirão que você esta confundindo seus filhos com todos esses idiomas. Ignore esses duvidadores, mas também os perdoe, porque eles não sabem o […]

  16. […] od svých dětí očekáváte příliš a další budou říkat, že své děti všemi těmi jazyky matete. Ignorujte všechny tyto pochybovače, ale také jim odpusťte, protože neví, o čem […]

  17. […] uda. Inni będą myśleć, że oczekujesz zbyt wiele od swoich dzieci, a jeszcze inni, że tylko mieszasz im w głowach. Zignoruj tych wątpiących, a także wybacz im, bo nie wiedzą o czym mówią. // […]

  18. […] Bilingualism does not cause confusion. If you separate the languages as described above, there will probably also not be too much mixing. […]

  19. […] Otras personas pensaran que son demasiado exigentes con sus hijos, y aun otros les dirán que van a confundir a sus hijos con tantas lenguas. No les hagan caso a estos escépticos, pero sean indulgentes con ellos porque […]

  20. […] penseront que vous demandez trop à vos enfants et d’autres encore diront que vous allez leur mélanger les pinceaux avec toutes ces langues. Ignorez ces personnes qui vous font douter, pardonnez-les aussi, ils ne […]

  21. […] fogják gondolni hogy túl sokat vársz el a gyerekeidtől és néhányan azt fogják mondani hogy összezavarod a gyerekeidet ezekkel a nyelvekkel. Ne vedd figyelembe ezeket a kétkedőket de bocsáss meg nekik […]

  22. […] sitä mieltä että vaadit lapseltasi liikaa, ja eräät väittävät että monet kielet tulevat hämmentämään lastasi. Älä välitä näistä epäilijöistä, sillä he eivät tiedä mistä puhuvat. // […]

  23. […] Altri penseranno che pretendete troppo dai vostri figli, e qualcuno dirà che li state solo confondendo con tutte queste lingue. Ignorateli, ma anche perdonateli perché non sanno di cosa stanno […]

  24. […] اظهار می کنند با قرار دادن کودکتان در مععرض چند زبان او را گیج می کنید . به این افراد اهمیت ندهید. و در عین حال آنها را ببخشید […]

  25. […] several languages in a family does not confuse a child! This is persistent myth that unfortunately still pops up in forums and less informed […]

  26. […] Will the child be confused by your choice of language? No, a baby will naturally accept whatever language its parents speak. Children will also not be confused by the use of different languages in the family. Bilingualism does not cause confusion. […]

  27. […] will be relieved to hear that “No, your child will absolutely not be confused!” In fact, you will be amazed at how well your child will be able to discern when you use English and […]

  28. […] get teased because of the language? Perhaps you have heard (the myths!) about language delay and confusion? Whatever it is that you are worried about, speak about it with your partner, and together find the […]

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