How to Raise a Bilingual Child: Tips and Strategies

How to Raise a Bilingual Child: Tips and Strategies

4 September 2023

Speaking more than one language is becoming an increasingly valuable skill as the world becomes more globalized.

More and more parents are curious about how to raise a bilingual child – and whether or not teaching a child two languages at once could hinder their overall language skills.

A study published in the Psychological Science Journal in 2016 found bilingual people have better communication skills compared to monolingual speakers. It has also been connected to learning more proficiently, with an array of cognitive benefits.

However mom and dad, although raising a bilingual child is an extraordinary and exciting journey, it can be challenging. It’s almost certain that il-informed “experts” will warn you not to confuse your child by introducing a second language, but rest assured, the benefits outweigh the negatives.

According to Science Direct, bilingual kids tend to have slightly smaller vocabularies in both of their languages compared to monolinguals’. However, none of these issues impact a child’s overall education, as well as the cognitive, social, and economic benefits later in life. Your kiddo may experience slightly slower language development. So yes, bilingual kids often take a bit more time before they can speak, but don’t worry, when they do, you’ll get two for the price of one. Bonus.

So, if this is your plan, go for it. It is a well-known fact that children’s brains are most impressionable when they are infants, particularly regarding language acquisition, vocabulary formation, and linguistic memory. There is no reason why you, your partner and other family members can’t speak two languages to your child from birth.

Children soak up languages the best when they are between birth and three years. But, of course, it’s also possible to do it later. Between four and seven is the second-best time to teach a child a second language.

We have a few tips on how to raise a bilingual child:

  • Don’t be afraid. There are plenty of strategies to choose from which includes One Parent-One Language – this is the most popular method for raising bilingual kids. And it is as simple as it sounds: Each parent commits to speaking only one of the two languages to the child. While this strategy can be successful and is commonly used, it’s important to find a strategy that works for your family.
  • Consistency is crucial. Stick to whatever strategy seems to make the most sense for your family, but commit wholeheartedly.
  • Stock up on books. Have lots of books available in the minority language. Read to your child every day.
  • Play music and sing songs in the minority language. A melody helps kids memorize words and phrases that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, and lyrics help to broaden their vocabulary.
  • Offer screen-time in the minority language to give them more exposure.
  • If you’re considering hiring a babysitter or a nanny, choose someone who speaks the second language you want your child to learn.
  • Organize a bilingual playdate.
  • Make it fun. Sing, dance, and play your way through language instruction. They won’t even notice they’re secretly honing a new skill!

Remember mom and dad, don’t put too much pressure on yourself and your child. Like most things in life, learning two languages is easiest when treated as an enjoyable experience, rather than a chore.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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