On bilingual children at school and how to keep your kids speaking your language (Google Hangout)

by | Feb 25, 2015 | Challenges, Practical advice, School-aged children, Teenagers, When a bilingual / multilingual child goes to school | 1 comment

How to prepare your little bilingual for school? What to do if you get a response in the wrong language? Should you follow the teacher’s advice to drop your home language? These are some of the questions that Marianna Du Bosq from Bilingual Avenue and I answered during our broadcast on International Mother Language Day.

These are the main topics and where to find them in the broadcast:

03:05 Rita: International Mother Language Day
– history and what UNESCO wants to promote with the day.

05:20 Marianna: Preparing your little bilinguals for starting school
– teach you child a few basic words in the community language to communicate his or her needs prior to entering school
– continue to support the mother tongue at home and letting the community language be learned at school
– be a great role model for using the mother language

09:20 Listener question:
How to introduce the majority language to a child who only speaks the home language?

12:50 Marianna: Choosing the right school – things to take into consideration
– are languages valued in the school and are staff supportive to language learning, multiculturalism, language diversity?
– how much time is spent on language learning?
– is the language only taught in the language program or is it also used in other subjects?
– what level of language proficiency and teaching qualifications do the teachers have?
– if your language is not supported by a school, could you consider enrolling in a heritage program or creating one of your own?

18:00 Marianna: Develop a partnership with your child’s teacher
– find materials in the home languages for the teacher to use
– keep an open line of communication to bridge the gap between home and the child
– donate books, puzzles, games, classroom labels in your mother tongue
– volunteer in your child’s classroom and/or school

23:00 Rita: When your child answers in the “wrong language”
– happens in many families, do not be upset, you haven’t done anything wrong
– make sure your child knows the new school terminology in your language
– have patience, be consistent, but also flexible
– don’t compel your child to speak your language, but make it compelling for her/him
– whether or not to pretend not to understand

30:30 Rita: Reintroducing a language to an older child
– be absolutely clear about why you want your child to learn your language, then discuss this with your child
– commit to your goal, set a start date and start
– introduce your language gradually
– make it fun and engaging

37:40 Rita: Resources for the bilingual teenager
– find out-of-school activities in your language
– create online connections with teenagers who speak your language as their mother tongue
– find motivation by using the language in games, parties, social media
– have a deep discussion about the importance of your language for you and him/her

45:35 Listener question:
How to support the home languages while home schooling in the majority language?

48:50 Listener question:
Child’s teacher tells us to stop speaking the home language, what to do?

I hope you enjoyed our broadcast! Make sure not to miss any future ones by signing up the Multilingual Parenting newsletter!

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1 Comment

  1. Alex

    My kids are tri-lingual. My wife is Japanese and I’m Mexican. When people ask our kids what’s their first language, they answer Japanese and Spanish… (people still don’t understand that that can be possible 🙂
    The kids cannot speak English at home, unless there are visitors that do not understand the other languages. We encourage them to talk to their friends in either Japanese or Spanish (if their friends can understand it). They are doing well at school with English, and we never let their teachers to pressure them into just sticking with one language (English). Our 9 year old can Speak, read and write in the 3 languages. The 5 year old speaks the 3 of them and just starting to get into reading and writing English, but soon will get his Japanese schooling (Home Schooling), and additional help for his Spanish.
    Great message from you, and you’re doing a great job in supporting and encouraging people to grow bilingual (or more). Great!!



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