5 tips for expats in the UAE who want bilingual children
January 6, 2016
Young kids possess amazing capacities to learn a new language, and it would be a wonderful way to access the United Arab Emirates and its culture, if your children learnt some Arabic language.
A recent Concordia study revealed interesting findings: there exists a difference in thinking among bilingual children and those who only speak their native tongue. Young kids tend to see everything as pre-existing, including characteristics, traits and languages spoken. They perceive these influencing factors as innate and unchangeable. However, a bilingual child understands that all of these are learnt. As a consequence, children are more open to change. They will be better equipped to deal with the challenges of moving abroad and find it much easier to settle into their new host country.
Crown’s Intercultural Services Manager, Shaila Gidwani, has raised herself two bilingual children in Hong Kong, she recommends the following: “Learning the local language is of great value. Bilingual children will find it easier to understand other cultures and relate to people in a much deeper, sensitive and efficient way. In addition, if they are able to converse with other children in the school’s playground, they will have a better chance of integrating and feeling more at home.”
Consider the following 5 tips, if you plan to raise your children bilingually:
- Make it a family decision, if you want your child to be bilingual – it is important that everyone is on board. A parent who is hostile towards the idea of speaking more than one language risks creating a tense and stressful learning environment. It is also important to ensure that equal balance is placed on both languages.
- You will have to ensure that your child has a stable user of the second language to speak with – for example, one parent or grandparent.
- Set up a social group with other kids – interaction 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 daughter or son in reading lots of books to discover new vocabulary and grammar structures.
Do expose your kid to the second language using a number of mediums – for example, engage in daily conversation at home or watch TV or YouTube videos in the second language. Make it fun – read, watch, listen and play.