This continues my musings from last week.
Despite some misgivings about which language to speak with my children on a day-to-day basis, I have no doubts at all that it is hugely beneficial for them to grow up with more than one language. So here is a quick summary of the top ten tips that I have learnt from parents, educators, linguists and children too about growing up with many languages.
1) Speak your mothertongue with them from the start (preferably even during pregnancy)
2) If you aren’t fluent in a foreign language, don’t give up – just build a good support system around yourself. There are so many resources out there (books, DVDs, CDs, games, neighbours and babysitters) – use them creatively.
3) It doesn’t have to be expensive – many things are available from the library. You can also do online skillswaps – there are plenty of language classes available in exchange for other skills.
4) There is no single right way to do it – each child, each family, each situation is different. Find what works best for you.
5) Don’t be intimidated by the science – if you have the willpower and the motivation, you can do it.
6) Motivation is more important than natural talent – any child can learn an additional language if they are exposed to it early enough and if it’s fun enough.
7) Consistency is hard – there are so many reasons to give up, but persevere even when you get discouraged.
8) Confusion is normal – children will throw in words from different languages, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know the difference.
9) It’s never too late – yes, it does help to start as early as possible, but you can learn a language really well even later in life (you will just have to work harder at it).
10) Enjoy the journey – relax! Even if your child doesn’t become perfectly bilingual, they will still have a passive language base that they can reactivate and improve at any stage in life.
What experiences have you had in growing up multilingual or raising your children multilingually? Are there any other top tips you would like to add?