A-B-C for parents bringing up bilingual children: A-F

Today I am starting a four part A-B-C for all you parents passing on your languages to your children – or maybe you are planning to do so, but haven’t quite made up your mind yet.

A is for Advantages

The list of benefits that accompanies being bilingual is long, ranging from the obvious one of being able to communicate with more people to more surprising ones to do with health, such as being able to stave off dementia on average 4.5 years longer than monolinguals of the same age.

B is for Bilingual

Your aim should be for your children to grow up to become active bilinguals, i.e. that they can both understand and speak your language. Someone who only understands a language, but is unable to speak it, is called a receptive or passive bilingual.

C is for Consistency

Research has shown that children in families where the parents are consistent about their language use are more likely to become fluent speakers of both the languages. Consistency can also be achieved by choosing a specific space or time for a certain language.

D is for Doubts

Once 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 “burdening” them with an additional language. Others will try to tell you that it is never going to work. Stay strong and stick to your decision! The same goes when you have doubts about your own ability – ask for advice and support to help you stay on track – you will receive it.

E is for Exposure

For your children to acquire your language you need to ensure they get enough exposure to it. Ideally children should be exposed to a language for at least thirty per cent of their waking time to pick it up. Most of this time should consist of interactive use of the language. Your children will not learn by sitting alone watching a DVD in your language.

F is for Fluency

It is important to reflect on how fluent you want your children to become in your language. Do you want them to be able to speak as natives or are you happy as long as they are able to comfortably communicate in it? Do you want them to be able to read and write? The more fluent you want your children to be, the more attention you need to pay to how much exposure they are getting to it, and the more effort you will have to put in yourself.

Over the next two weeks I will be posting the remaining three parts of the series: G-L, M-S and T-Z.

May the peace and power be with you. Yours, Rita © Rita Rosenback 2019

Bringing up a Bilingual Child by Rita RosenbackNever miss a post! Sign up to the Multilingual Parenting newsletter and I will send you a recap of the week’s posts every Sunday. Every second week you will receive a more extensive issue with links to research articles and interesting posts from other writers, as well as handy tips and ideas! Want to read more like this? My book Bringing up a Bilingual Child is available on Amazon and in well-stocked bookshops. Do you have a specific question? You can send it to our team of Family Language Coaches and we will reply in a Q&A (questions are answered in order of arrival). If you are interested in tailor-made family language coaching, please, contact me and I will send you a proposal.