April 16, 2015

This topic has been coming up a lot lately between James and I. Knowing we want to raise our kids to be bilingual, but not knowing exactly how to do it, is a tricky one. With James being French and me being Canadian, we automatically have an advantage in raising bilingual kids. We just have to figure out how it will work for us. Will James only speak French and I will just speak English? To me it all sounds a little easier said than done. But then I read this great post about Bringing Up Children Bilingually by Babyccino Kids and found it really insightful.

Some tips I found useful and seem easy enough to do are:

Stick to the one language you have decided to speak to your child – Of course there will be moments when you will have to switch (homework for example), but it is important to stick to one language and build up a relationship with your child in that language. I read somewhere that a child needs to be exposed at least 30% of their waking time to an environment where the foreign language is spoken to be able to learn the language properly.

Build a network – one of the things that has been really helpful for us here in Paris is to have an English speaking network of friends. Joining the local Anglo parenting Network helped a lot. The children have grown up together and still speak in English to each other, though, when they are with French friends, they will swap back to French. It means that it feels normal for them to speak to other children, not only adults, in English even when in their home city.

Books and Films – I mostly read books in English to the girls to counteract a whole day of French in the classroom. Again it is also interesting to expose them to a different culture via books. When we watch films, we watch them in the original language they were filmed in. We also have the international BBC Iplayer to watch nature documentaries etc. in English and Netflix if we want to have a movie night and watch a film.

Don’t listen to and don’t worry about myths – I have been told that bringing up my children with two languages may delay their development or might even give them a speech impediment. Total nonsense if you ask me. As long as your children are thriving and happy, I don’t see a single reason why speaking two languages should harm them. And in all cases, the benefits outweigh any potential downside.

Such great tips! It is so nice to read that it is actually a lot easier to do than we thought. 
And if we ever end up moving back to Toronto, then we will just switch and spend more time speaking French at home because they will be more immersed in English in everyday life. 

You can read the full post here.

So helpful don't you think? Did you raise your kids to be bilingual? If so, how did you do it?

(photo via Life)

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