Tips & Challenges

  • Start teaching your child early. The ability to hear different phonetic pronunciations is sharpest before age 3. Just learning few words will give your child a head start.
  • Set reasonable expectations. Your child is not going to be fluent in a month or two, but s/he can brighten your day with simple words and phrases.
  • Don’t be discouraged. Your child may seem to have a smaller vocabulary in a primary language in comparison to peers. However, if you would combine all the words your child knows in all languages your child speaks then his/her overall vocabulary will be much greater.
  • Every child is skilled enough to learn another language just like everyone is capable to learn how to read. Some children read with ease and some struggle a bit. The same applies to learning languages. Some children may absorb new vocabulary and pronounciation faster than the others but there are no extraordinary skills needed.
  • Decide which language system will you use. The most common language systems are One Person One Language (OPOL) and Minority Language at Home (ML@H). Nevertheless remember that a perfect system does not exist. Experiment and find out what works best for your family.
  • Find appropriate resources to enhance the learning experience.
  • Dedicate your time to your child and be patient. Often children who start kindergarten/school education will respond in the language of the majority which can be frustrating. Be persistent and continue to speak to your child in the minority language of your choice. Bilingualism is a choice. It does not happen itself.
  • Motivation is important but the language exposure is a key.
  • Do not be hesitant to speak to your child in language different than the language of the majority in public. The trendsetters always raise an eyebrow.
  • Ignore nay sayers. You know your child and you know what is best for your family.
  • During the times when your family’s multilingual journey is particularly challenging just remember that you are giving your child a wonderful gift, for which, in the future, you will hear “thank you” in your native language.
Infants Using Known Verbs to Learn New Nouns
Babies Early Gift of Gab
Tips For Bilingual Parents
Bilingual Babes: Teach Your Child a Second Language
10 Myths You Will Be Told About Multilingual Children
Clearing Up Common Myths About What It Means to Be Bilingual
Myths About Bilingualism