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  • The Bilingual Family

    The Bilingual Family

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    What parents need to know about bilingualism? Many say that children learn languages ​​like a sponge, absorbing words, and structures automatically. Parents who choose to teach their children two different languages have a challenge ahead of themselves. Most often, this starts at home, especially because there are two different mother tongues. At times, it is just the result of an educational decision of parents. No matter your scenario, make sure you follow a strict learning plan. This post will cover tips for the bilingual family.  


     Bilingualism In Development

    The child should be familiar with both languages ​​as soon as possible and there is no problem to start too soon. In fact, it is best that the baby hears about the two languages ​​from birth. To learn easily and effectively, the child should have a number of direct experiences with the language. Statistically, bilingual children begin to utter their first words at the same age as in the other cases. Small delays are considered totally acceptable.

    The separation between the two languages ​​will happen gradually and therefore, kids will keep this dual use in some contexts, to create greater impact and specifications.  In general, one of the two languages ​​will be seen as less formal than the other and will be used more in the family, while the other will be used in extra domestic activities. There are periods in which a language is used more than the other, and then the opposite can happen. It may also be the case that the child understands a language better than the other but he or she has trouble speaking. As time goes by, diversity is becoming common.

    There are more couples where each parent has a different mother tongue. These are homes where individuals speak several languages ​​(English, Spanish are the most common ones) and parents care about their children to be bilingual for social, cultural or personal purposes.  Although for these children learning a second language is easier than for others whose parents speak just one language, it is not necessary to underestimate the effort and work involved in teaching and learning a second language at home from an early age.

    The Bilingual Family

    It is worth mentioning that children are not sponges, they have their limitations and need time for everything.  Whether parents decide to use the system OPOL (One parent, one language) i.e. , each speaking in their native language family, as if they decide on the Minority Language system at home, experts agree on some tips for creating a positive bilingual environment at home:

    Be consistent and always speak the same language. If changes are made, these must be conducted with caution.

    Be insistent and gentle about how beneficial it is to learn two languages.

    Reward your kid due to effort by repeating verbally and occasionally specific terms, and why not with prizes and special surprises.

    Consider using media such as television, computer, tablets, internet, etc, as they are a great source of entertainment for children.

    Concentrate on more direct personal interaction, in living day to day, and use other means (as described above) if it is deemed appropriate and necessary.

    Correct the errors, but in subtle ways. It matters more is said than how it is said.

    Travel and cultivate bilingual friends

    What if children refuse to speak one of the two languages? All parents want their children to speak English and other languages ​​as native but, how can you get your child to learn a foreign language if you do not speak that language well? Most linguist and speech therapists believe that determination is a key point. Learning the language is a natural process: the baby sees, hears, train joints to make sounds, imitate the sounds of parents, repeat words, etc.

    Consider using terms with an intention and gradually combine them together creating small sentences. These statements, in turn, will lead your kid to give little speeches. All this can happens at a very early age. Make sure you remain patient. The process of learning a foreign language should be done in the same manner and with the same ease. So, to ensure that a language is learned naturally without accent and is spoken fluently, learning should start as soon as possible and as naturally as possible.

    The most effective way of exposing a child to a specific language during the day is to bring to daycare or a bilingual school. If this is not possible, don’t panic, you can still achieve your goal. Learning terms will depend on many variables but the child can still learn.   What you can do is to follow home solutions and instructions. Take advantage of every opportunity to help your kid learn a second language. He or she needs to grasp the language as soon as possible.

    Here are some additional ideas:

    Play songs in English or Spanish.

    Accustom him or her to watch original movies and cartoons with subtitles and translated, too.

    Tune in English or Spanish channels on TV.

    Visit countries that speak English or the language you are introducing on vacation.

    Make your kid become in contact with bilingual children.

    Have your kid enter the learning arena of music from an early age. Music is a language and therefore, this helps children develop skills that encourage language development. The child should have contact with the language several times a day and in different situations that, if possible, includes all or some of the main activities of the day.

    So, familiarize yourself with all expressions, and in the same way make them learn. Kids learn from their parents, they learn by listening other children, and of course, by testing and imitating their teachers. Ideally, children should live immersed in a bilingual environment the maximum number of hours a day. Instead of teaching children in a traditional and boring day, it may be good to make emphasis on everyday experiences at home with the mother tongue. It is very important to select bilingual systems correctly.

    As far as teachers are concerned, educators should be native. No written reference must enter until later. Oral matters need to be as consolidated as possible. Remember that no baby begins to speak the language of their parents with written references.

    Image Credit (www.beinglatino.us)

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