Raising Bilingual Children

Raising a bilingual child is not as easy as just having one parent speak one language and the parent the other language. Of course that does help. Exposure to both languages is a good start. It will only be passive though if you don’t do this next step.

One of the key methods you need to take if you want your children to be bilingual is to insist that they use the non-dominant language. In our case the non-dominant language is English. Everytime the children want something I insist they have to communicate with me in English to get it. If the want milk they have to ask in English. If they want me to play with them they have to ask in English. Since they want it then they will use English. You have to be consistent though. If they think you’ll give up then they won’t bother using English.

How to insist though? First you need to know what you expect them to say. For example: this week we were teaching “Please pass the yellow pen.” This phrase can be used it lots of different situations. When your child asks you for some milk or some chopsticks, you can ask them to say it in English. If they look at you blankly then you say what you want them to say: “Please pass me some chopsticks.” “Please pass me the milk.” etc.

This week we learnt: “Please, pass the yellow pen.” (picture is from Oxford show and tell book 2)

That is just one example. You can use everyday English phrases in your home to help make English as part of their life as their first language.

Using little phrases that we learn in class at home helps the children remember what they’ve learnt and makes English a natural part of their life.

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