Five easy tips for expats who want to raise multilingual children
May 6, 2016
Don’t be concerned if you’re relocating with your family to another country with a different speaking language. Children have an amazing ability to learn a second or even third language in a short period of time, and it would be a great way to access your host country and its culture.
A recent Concordia study reveals an interesting difference in thinking among multilingual children and those who only speak their native language. Children used to see everything as pre-existing, including characteristics, actions and languages. They recognise all these manipulating factors as being innate and unchangeable. However, a bilingual child comprehends that all of these are learned. Thus, children are more open to change are more open- minded. They will be better prepared to deal with the challenges of a relocation and find it easier to settle into their new home.
Check out our 5 tips for raising multilingual children:
- Make the bilingual raising a family decision. It is important that all family members agree with the decision. A parent who is unreceptive towards the idea of speaking more than one language at home risks creating a tense learning environment. It is also important to guarantee that equal balance is placed on both languages.
- Finding a native user of the second language with whom the child can interact is essential, for example, one parent or grandparent.
- Create a social group with other children, staying in touch with other children in the second language is important, and it will allow your child to enjoy the relationship building advantages of bilingualism.
- Support your child in reading lots to learn new vocabulary and grammar structures.
- Ensure you expose your child to the second language using a number of different ways for example, engage in daily conversation at home or watch TV or YouTube videos in the second language, listen music. Make it fun – read, watch, listen and play!
Our Intercultural Services Manager Shaila Gidwani, who has raised two bilingual children in Hong Kong, confirmed: “Learning the local language is valuable. Bilingual children will find it easier to appreciate other cultures and relate to people in a much deeper, sensitive and efficient way. Besides, if they are able to speak with other children in the school’s playground or parks, they will have a better opportunity of integrating and feeling more at home”.