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Jan 192017
 

Is it necessary to arrange additional tuition for a child’s minority language?

 

Question

Hi,

My question is, do you need to set aside time for language lessons either by parents or professional for the minority language? My 3-year-old daughter speaks Spanish (we live in Spain) and English (minority language) and she is well on her way to being bilingual, her English level is above most 3 year olds that only speak English – so we are off to a good start.

My question is more about how will she advance to be on the same level as English-only speakers going forward by only doing what we have done so far (complete English in home, English books, English TV etc). For example, she can count to 20 because of all the books we do, but how will she count to 100 without lessons. Or how will she learn advanced vocab and grammar without lessons? or do these kind of things come with time?

Thanks!
Trent

Answer

Dear Trent

Thank you for question on whether you need to arrange some formal language tuition in the minority language for your daughter.

You are using the minority language at home approach (mL@H), and with great success as per your description – I agree, you are off to a fantastic start. By immersing her in English in the home she will naturally pick up the language just as a monolingual child would do. You read books and watch English programmes with her so she this will add to her vocabulary.

If you want her English to stay at the same level as of children living in an English-speaking country and attending an English school, with the extended vocabulary that entails, then you would need to arrange similar exposure for her. I don’t think you would necessarily have to arrange additional tuition for this, though. Instead, you can incorporate this into your family’s routines. Of course, it depends on how much time you can dedicate to this, but my feeling is that it might be more effective than having occasional formal lessons. As her parents you will know best which area to work on.

When your daughter’s English skills develop, you will naturally read books where the language gets more complex and she will be learning new words. Since you are in the fortunate position that it is English which is your minority language, you will also find a lot of resources online. You can use materials which are designed for schools or homeschoolers. For example the British Council offers free educational games and resources for schools which you can adapt according to your daughter’s interests.

When she is a bit older you could also consider enrolling her in summer camps for English-speaking children, if this can be arranged. Having a chance to use her language with other children is another important aspect of her language development.

Wishing you a successful bilingual family journey!

Kind regards
Rita

Rita Rosenback

  Rita Rosenback Rita is an author, Family Language Coach, blogger and speaker, who was born into a bilingual family on the Swedish-speaking west coast of Finland. After studying languages in Finland and Germany she worked as a university teacher, translator, interpreter and manager of multinational teams. Rita is now a full-time writer and coach and has been living in the U.K. since 1998. Rita is the mother of two grown-up multilingual daughters, who are the inspiration for her book: “Bringing up a Bilingual Child”, an easy-to-read guide for parents, where she navigates the reader across the “Seven Cs of Multilingual Parenting: Communication, Confidence, Commitment, Consistency, Creativity, Culture and Celebration”. Currently English and Swedish are Rita’s main languages, but she instantly switches to Finnish or German or to her Finland-Swedish dialect when the opportunity presents itself (and when push comes to shove, she can communicate in a very basic Punjabi). Rita is the creator and driving force of this website, and she gives talks and holds workshops for parents and teachers on the topic of bilingual children. She also coaches families on how to make the most of their languages and raise their children to become confident speakers of the chosen languages. Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedin

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