Things that can go wrong when raising a bilingual child. Part 2 of 3

Things that can go wrong when raising a bilingual child. Part 2 of 3

This is the second post in a series of three about the things that can go wrong when raising a bilingual child. This week’s topics mainly deal with your confidence as a parent and your ability to pass your language on. Read part one of the series here, part three is coming up soon.

Thinking you can’t do it as other families have failed

You might have seen other families in a similar situation as yours not succeed in raising their children to become bilingual. This can put doubts in your mind about whether you will be able to do it or not. The thing to keep in mind is that since you are thinking of this ahead of time, you have an advantage as you can take measures to make sure you stay on track towards your goal of passing on your family’s languages to your children. Ensuring enough language exposure for your children and staying consistent in your own language use are the important factors that will be the foundation of your success.

Believing you don’t know your language well enough

There is a common misconception that to be a bilingual you must have a near perfect command of your languages – this is very rarely the case. Let’s say you have grown up as a bilingual but you feel that you don’t know one of your languages as well as the other and therefore think you shouldn’t use that language with your children. Don’t let this stop you – if you make sure that your children get exposure to the language from other speakers as well, they will grow up to speak it well. What will also happen is that your own skills will improve!

Assuming that you need teaching skills to succeed

Of some reason parents sometimes feel that they ought to have teaching skills to be able to bring up a child to become bilingual. If you were to try to teach your children a language you don’t know, then yes, but as long as you are passing on your own language, you just need to speak it, be consistent about it and make sure they get enough exposure to it. Small children learning a second language learn it in the same way as they did the first one, no special teaching required.

Part three of the series to follow next week.

May the peace and power be with you.

Yours,
Rita

© Rita Rosenback 2013



Categories: Challenges, Myths, Practical advice

Tags: , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. “to be a bilingual you must have a near perfect command of your languages – this is very rarely the case.”

    Yes! I am a non-native speaker of French, very competent, but not native-like (yet). For five years, I have spoken exclusively, imperfectly French to my son, and he is managing just fine. While native speakers have very occasionally criticized my speaking ability and my ambition to raise bilingual children, I strongly feel that it would be better for my kids to speak two languages, albeit imperfectly, than to only speak one language at all.

    • Well done for keeping it up and giving your son the gift of becoming bilingual! If you can arrange for him to spend time in an exclusively French environment for some time, he will soon rectify any imperfections he may have picked up from you. I absolutely agree with you, even a passive knowledge of a language is far better than none!

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