Things you shouldn’t do when bringing up a bilingual child – part 3 of 3

by | May 1, 2013 | Challenges, Family life, Practical advice | 2 comments

Things you shouldn't do when bringing up a bilingual child - part 3 of 3This is the last post in the 3-part series about things we shouldn’t do when bringing up a bilingual child in a multilingual family. Part 1 and part 2 were published end of last month. I do admit, I prefer being given guidelines about what to do, instead of being told what not to do, but now and then we all need to be reminded of the things that we should avoid. Sometimes we do things unconsciously and for us to be able adjust our behaviour, we need someone to point this out to us.

Don’t constantly correct
I am not saying that you should never help your daughter with finding the right phrase or form of a word. It is alright to offer the correct version by rephrasing what she just said. Don’t however make this a habit so that you do it every time when she says something that is not quite correct. Being frequently “put right” might negatively affect both her confidence and her motivation to learn more.

Don’t be rigid
Although there are certain rules you need to follow to make sure your daughter acquires your language while growing up, don’t let these principles become so rigid that it takes the fun out of learning and speaking. As always with children, you need to be flexible and go with the flow when the situation calls for it. You want your language to be something your daughter enjoys. It shouldn’t become a chore or something she avoids because of the negative associations with it. For example, if she doesn’t want to speak your language when her friends are around as she doesn’t want anyone to feel left out – don’t do it.

Don’t demand
This is very closely related to the previous one. For me this is a given, but needs to be noted. Yes, you want your daughter to speak your language, but trying to force her to do it is not the way to achieve your goal. By all means, make learning your language compelling for her by creating an environment which is motivating and supporting for her development, but don’t try to make her do it. You will both enjoy the journey so much more. Enough said.

May the peace and power be with you.


© Rita Rosenback 2013

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  1. Amanda @MissPandaChinese

    Rita, This is a wonderful series and I really enjoyed it. There are many little things that we need to be sensitive about when bringing kids bilingual.

    • Rita Rosenback

      Thank you Amanda! Yes, you are right – we have to tread a very thin line between staying consistent but still keeping the language learning fun.


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