Hindu Mommy

July 17, 2006

Raising bi-lingual children

Filed under: Kids,Parenting,Preschool — hindumommy @ 3:22 pm

Being born and brought up in India means that kids automatically are multi-lingual. At the least, almost every Indian know 2 languages but usually it’s more than that.

Now as I try to raise my kids in the US, I am realizing how hard it is to get them to speak an Indian language at home. Peer pressure in school means they want to speak only in English at school and home even as parents struggle to teach the kids their native tongue.

I found this great website Multi-Lingual children which gives 10 Tips for Boosting the Minority Language

•  Other kids

•  Books

•  The right stuff

•  Sing and dance.

•  Tap into their interests

•  Be creative

•  Outside the box

•  Baby sitter

•  Visits

•  Enthusiasm

and it also gives Tips on transitioning into multilingualism

First, explain what you want to do and why. Even relatively small children understand a great deal, even if they can’t articulate it themselves. Don’t make any drastic changes, however. That will only be frustrating for everyone. Let your little one get used to the idea.

  • Switch to speaking only the minority language yourself, but with frequent translations when you notice she doesn’t understand. Accept replies in the majority language for now.
  • If your child answers back in the majority language, say “Yes,” and then repeat the sentence in the minority language.
  • When you know your child is able to say a particular word but is struggling to remember it, jog her memory by providing the first syllable.
  • Be careful not to dampen her enthusiasm. If she wants a glass of milk, you can require that she asks for it in the minority language. But if she’s excited about telling you what happened at the circus, let her tell you in the majority language, and then repeat it back in the minority language. That way, you provide her the missing vocabulary in a positive way.
  • And as always: praise, praise, praise! Even if you had to provide the translation. And, don’t correct the errors outright until after the age of three, that is the earliest she’ll be able to understand the correction or explanation anyhow. Instead, just repeat the words correctly, also known as modeling. Alternatively, you can make a joke and say, “Oops, that came out wrong!” Laugh and provide the right way of saying it.

1 Comment »

  1. great suggestions!

    Comment by diegoslp — January 10, 2009 @ 1:26 am | Reply

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