Bringing up a child to speak more than one language is not an easy task. There are days when we need all the encouragement we can find to keep going. So I asked parents what they would like to say to other mothers and fathers of bilingual children – and here is a selection of their inspirational thoughts:
1 – You are doing a great job
Parenthood is filled with all sorts of challenges and when you choose to add another language (or two) to the mix, you inevitably increase the potential stumbling blocks. You are doing a great job at still managing to be a wonderful parent.
2 – You are giving your child a great gift
There is no denying the many and long-term benefits that bilingualism brings with it to your child. This is a gift you can give independent of your own education, financial situation or country of origin.
3 – You are strengthening the family bonds
By passing on your family languages you are making the family relationships stronger. Your contribution will make a great impact long after you are gone and for several generations to come.
4 – Stick with it, you will be rewarded
You may not believe it right now, especially if your little one is categorically refusing to speak your language, but there will come a time when your child will express a sincere gratitude for your patience and commitment to keeping the language alive in the family.
5 – It is doable
There will be days when the despair can come creeping up on you and you feel like giving up. Remember that many parents before you have succeeded – look for advice and support on those down days.
6 – Your child already knows more than you think
“… and then, all of a sudden, my child started speaking and using many new words!” Several parents have experienced the exasperating wait for the first words or phrases in a particular language. It may take a bit longer than you thought, but have patience!
7 – Choose your own “perfect”
Don’t compare your child’s language skills with others. By all means, choose native-like fluency and literacy as your goal if this is what you think you can achieve. But, if this is not your goal, don’t let others’ choices make you feel guilty – choose your own “perfect” and it will be right for your family.