I can’t tell you how excited I am to announce that my book “Bringing up a Bilingual Child” will be out in June! It is a how-to-guide for parents raising bilingual children in families with more than one language. The subtitle of the book is “How to Navigate the Seven Cs of Multilingual Parenting: Communication, Confidence, Commitment, Consistency, Creativity, Culture and Celebration”
The goal is to raise children who can communicate in the family languages. To reach this goal, parents should discuss with each other to agree on how to go about it. They should also tell family, friends and other people their children come in contact with about the family’s intention to pass on the family languages.
It is important to feel confident about the decision to raise your children to become bilingual. For this parents need to be aware of all the many myths surrounding bilingual children and families, as well as bilingualism and languages in general. Armed with the facts is much easier to answer doubters’ questions.
Once the decision has been made to bring up bilingual children, the family needs to stay committed to the common goal. Parents (and others involved in the process) will need to be prepared to put in the time and effort needed to pass on the family languages.
I firmly believe that consistency is one of the corner stones of successfully raising bilingual children. With this I am not saying that it cannot be done in any other way, but that the chances of success are far greater if, for the majority of the time, the language use in the family is consistent.
No family is the same and each multilingual family encounters different challenges. This is when creativity is needed – and I believe everyone has a creative side when it comes to the crunch. Parents of bilingual children will have to come up with creative ways of keeping the minority language alive: how to motivate the children to use all their languages; what to do when they stop speaking a language; how to make language learning fun and interesting.
I have said it many a time before and I will say it again: language and culture go hand in hand. Offer your children not only the gift of your language, but also the richness of your culture. Understanding your cultural background is an important part of everyone’s identity.
Having many languages in the family is something to be really proud of! Document and celebrate the successes your children make when they are learning the family languages. And what better way to show your pride than to arrange an annual party for family and friends!
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May the peace and power be with you.
© Rita Rosenback 2014