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How to Raise a Bilingual Child

As the U.S. melting pot grows, and new and exciting cultures and languages are introduced, a bilingual child has the advantage of relating to more than just an English-speaking individual.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Cooperate Get the entire family on board. Talk to your family and ensure they are comfortable with the decision. Decide together which method you want to use to teach your child two languages. Stick to the method you choose as much as possible to avoid confusion.
  • Step 2: Be realistic Take a realistic approach to your teaching methods. You don't want to over or underwhelm your child or your family. Research shows that child should be exposed to a language thirty percent of their waking time.
  • Step 3: Find others Find other parents in your community who are raising a bilingual child -- especially the languages you are teaching. Set up play dates and swap books, stories, and advice. Building a support network can increase your success rate immensely.
  • TIP: If there are no groups, try starting your own. Online groups can be a great place to reach out to others in your community. You can also head over to the library or a community center and inquire about other bilingual parents in your area.
  • Step 4: Take command Take command of the languages you will be speaking. Make sure you are teaching your child correct usage of the language. Try not to mix languages too early, as it could cause confusion.
  • Step 5: Be patient Be patient. Difficulties may arise, and it may be hard for you to move away from the dominant language especially if your child isn't responding immediately to it. This is a long-term commitment; however, if you stick to your plan, your child will most definitely thank you later when he or she is conjugating verbs like a pro.
  • FACT: The 2000 U.S. Census showed that 47 million Americans, 18 percent of the population, spoke another language at home in addition to English. That is 14 percent increase from the 1990 census, and a further increase of 11 percent from the 1980 census.

You Will Need

  • Child
  • Support network
  • Internet access (optional)
  • Library (optional)
  • Community center (optional)

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