Top five tips on raising bilingual kids


More and more people these days are raising bilingual kids. Young children are great at picking up second languages, but what do you need to do to ensure your kids become truly bilingual?

People travel a lot more than they used to and many settle in foreign countries permanently to build families. There are also lots of great foreign language nurseries, primary and secondary schools worldwide offering complete second language immersion.

Consequently there are more and more lucky bilingual children.

These are kids that grow up speaking, writing, reading and understanding two languages as true natives.

They don´t sound awkward like the rest of us wannabes who started learning our second language as adults and are stuck with our giveaway accents and persistent silly errors. And they leave us green with envy as they reel off sentences with authentic speed and precision, using pronunciation and expressions we can only dream of.

When you ask them how they know what they know, they look at you confused and reply “I don’t know. I just do.”

However, it´s not as simple as just living somewhere with your children, marrying someone from another country, or immersing them in a foreign language school, successfully raising bilingual kids takes planning and organisation.

Lots of people will tell you that kids are magic sponges capable of absorbing anything and everything around them. This is true, to some extent, but they have to be put in the right situations in the right frame of mind. Successfully becoming naturally bilingual is not something you can ever take for granted.

So, here are our top five tips on raising bilingual kids:

1. Make sure the child is consistently in contact with their first and second languages via native speakers.

2. Look for situations where the child needs and wants to speak the language. For example, try to find friends to play with who also speak the same language.

3. Make regular visits to the countries where the languages are spoken to experience how native speakers really speak and get the child interested in the culture.

4. Have lots of fun and informative resources at hand such as books, music, comics, cartoons, TV shows, and games.

5. Don´t give up or be too disappointed when, inevitably, the child starts speaking more of one language than the other and give them lots of encouragement and support.

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