As our world becomes more globalized and diverse, speaking more than one language opens up doors of possibility. Combine that with multiculturalism and your child is likely looking at a successful future. Taking into account the social, economic, and intellectual advantages, here are tips on raising bilingual and multicultural children.
Speak to your children in another language.
If your partner speaks another language, encourage him or her to speak to your child in that language. There is a lot of linguistic value in children communicating to the mother in one language and the father in another. Your child will be learning two languages from a very young age, allowing them to achieve a native/fluent level in both languages over time.
Tip: Help your children learn the ropes of writing in both languages as this is an area of language learning that is often pushed aside in the early stages of raising bilingual children.
Bring in an au pair to help raise bilingual children.
An au pair is a helper or nanny who comes from another country to live and work with a host family for a temporary duration of time. If neither you nor your partner speak another language, an au pair is one the best ways to introduce a second language to your children.
The au pair will spend a lot of time speaking with your children in their native language, and you can always ask the au pair to do language lessons as part of his or her work as well.
Beyond just an au pair, in early childhood development, there may be options of providing bilingual childcare by using babysitters or caregivers in your area who speak another language.
Consider bilingual education.
When your children reach time to begin kindergarten, consider schools with two-way immersions where classroom students speak two different native languages and the teacher teaches in both, too. It drastically increases their chances of reaching fluency in their second language.
Beyond two-way immersion programs, look into an international school. These schools focus on linguistics, cultural immersion, and diverse learning with students from around the world. Your children will be exposed to new languages while studying cultures and making friends with other students from a number of backgrounds.
For more information, here are some international schools in the US.
If international schooling isn’t available in your area, look into these after school programs for language learning and cultural immersion.
Get your children involved in a summer program.
Summer programs are a fun way to give your children an opportunity to be submerged in language learning. Whether it be Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, or another common foreign language, summer programs make language learning both fun and engaging.
There’s no better way to adapt to new cultures and learn another language than by being in immersed in a foreign country. Whether it’s one year or 10 years, living abroad will drastically help your child succeed in learning a second (or third!) language.
Plus, living abroad has a number of other benefits. Learning about historical places, meeting new people, and navigating the unfamiliar is all advantageous to raising bilingual and multicultural children.
Utilize online platforms to raise bilingual children.
After school online programs are another great way to raise bilingual children. ReDefiners World Languages offers excellent online courses in Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, and English.
Don’t forget YouTube and watching movies in another language are excellent (and free) secondary tools.
Taking the journey towards raising a bilingual and multilingual child is an amazing way to help ensure their future success and open up new doors of possibility along the way.
ReDefiners World Languages can help you raise bilingual children and immerse them in new cultures along the way.
Learn more about the online, after school, and summer programs available.