The Top Benefits to Raising Bilingual Children
Raising children who are bilingual comes with many benefits that will continue on through the rest of their lives. By being exposed to and immersed in a different language, your kids will become socially aware to different cultures, helping them develop an open mind about how things in the lives of others are done. This is especially important in the multi cultural societies many of us live in today.
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, several advantages exist to raising a bilingual family.
Increased Confidence and Self Esteem
The ability to speak at least two languages has been proven to have a strong impact on children’s’ self esteem and self confidence as it helps them to adapt to different language environments. Being bilingual has also been proven to benefit children both cognitively and intellectually due to improved communication, thinking and learning skills.
Different Languages are More Easily Grasped
Children who have already mastered two languages have an easier time taking on additional languages. This means once your kids are school aged, they will be better equipped to learn a third language.
In addition to being more aware and accepting of other cultures, the ability to speak different languages sets your kids up for several professional advantages down the road such as advancing in a future career and the possibility to successfully travel and work abroad someday.
Of course, parenting in general always comes with its trials and tribulations and when you decide to raise bilingual children, you can expect it to come with some challenges. For example, If only one of you speaks the second language, it can be difficult to agree with your partner on whether your children will use only that language or a mix of both at home. There is also the possibility that your children could experience difficulty in one language, especially if the dominant language of choice isn’t consistently used by the parents.
While the benefits of bilingualism normally far outweigh the challenges, parents can still find it difficult to find the right balance between the two languages or even know where to begin.
Below are a few tips to keep in mind when raising a bilingual child:
Teach from birth.
The earlier the better when it comes to introducing a second language. Studies have proven that children learn languages much easier than adults. This means you can never start too young.
Both you and your partner must be in agreement.
If only one of you is on board, your kids will pick up on the hesitation of the other parent and may refuse to learn the second language. Raising bilingual children requires the support of the entire household.
Communicate regularly in the second language.
Whether you have your children interact with their Italian or French grandmother in her native tongue, discuss “hot” topics or read books, regular interaction using the second language will help make it more the norm than a chore.
With the right approach and a lot of patience, your children will soon be fluent in at least two languages and have a firm knowledge of the culture they stem from. The benefits are endless when raising your children to be bilingual and these benefits will only grow throughout the rest of their lives.