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Top 10 Success Factors of Raising Bilingual and Multilingual Children
WHAT ARE THE 10 SUCCESS FACTORS?
As the name suggests, 10 success factors determine the success of your child’s journey to becoming bilingual or multilingual. You’ll find that we control all 10 of these factors, which can give us great power as parents. Once you know these 10 factors, it’s up to you to accept the consequences and implement them for your children or consciously ignore them.
Success Factor #1: A clear goal and strategy
Parents who know exactly what language they want their children to speak have a higher chance of raising a bilingual child than those who know they want a bilingual child and change their mind about which languages to choose. Therefore, it is important to be clear about your motives, i.e. how important each language is to you for your child (for example, English so my child can talk to his grandparents, Spanish so he can talk to his school friends, and German because it is my husband’s language . mother tongue). It is equally important to choose a language strategy and then stick to it throughout your children’s language journey. There are several strategies to choose from. The most common are: OPOL “one person-one language”, LC “language in context” or [email protected] “majority language at home”.
Success Factor #2: Timing
You’ve probably heard the rule of thumb before: the sooner you start introducing your kids to languages, the better. Do you know why? There are 4 main advantages:
• the sooner you start, the better your child will pronounce in that language
• young children are not yet ashamed of making mistakes and just talk
• simple vocabulary generally corresponds to the topics covered in the age group
• early language learning does not link it to reading and writing
Success factor #3: Constant exposure time
For each language you want your child to learn, you should have regular and repeated exposure to the language for several years, usually 2-4 years. For first languages, we do this naturally, just by talking to our children. We should strive to provide this exposure for additional languages. The amount of effort will vary depending on your language goals.
If you want your child to acquire basic skills in a language, you should provide at least two exposures per week of at least 30 minutes each. If you want your child to speak fluently, you need at least 60 minutes of quality exposure a day. Research recommends exposure for one-third of your child’s waking day.
As a result, your child may hear 3 different languages in different proportions during an average day or week, for example 50%/30%/20%. These ratios will change all the time, and that’s normal. Don’t expect the process to be linear. Sometimes you will feel that language A is doing really well and you need to work harder to provide input for language B. After a few months, you may feel the opposite. During the journey to the moon, the astronauts missed 90% of the way, but they constantly corrected their course and reached their goal. Let this be your inspiration!
Success Factor #4: Exposure Quality
To put it bluntly, it is not enough to put your child in front of a foreign language television program for an hour a day and expect him to become bilingual. Exposure quality is key here, and that means:
– creating an interactive language experience (ideally two or more people speaking)
– have language input of correct quality/pronunciation (ideally native speakers)
– using different language resources in different contexts (eg media, people, experiences…)
In Dubai, where I taught this program for 4 years, there were often families who hoped that their children would learn English from housekeepers, who themselves only spoke broken English.
Children will look to the adults and older peers in their lives as role models, and this also applies to language. Whatever language you speak as parents (or caregivers, older siblings, etc.), your children will speak the same language.
So when you choose a language course, tutor, language CD, make sure the quality is what you want for your children. And experiment with the wide variety of language materials available. You can find lots of ideas in the resource link at the bottom of the article.
Success factor #5: Child’s motivation
You may not know it, but you have a lot of control over your child’s motivation to learn a language. There are two broad categories of motivation: a) intrinsic motivation (when a child does something against his will) and b) extrinsic motivation (when a child does something because he receives some incentive or avoids punishment from outside).
While you can easily imagine how you can use extrinsic motivation to influence your child’s behavior, a better way is to work on creating intrinsic motivation. Here are some examples of how a child is intrinsically motivated to learn a language:
• when they simply need to enter or be part of a peer group (for example, in a new kindergarten)
• when you like or even love your teacher (the opposite is also true)
• when you like to spend time with people who speak the country/language
• when you love someone from that country
As parents, you can set a good example by showing respect and interest in the language and country you want your child to learn, and maybe even learn it yourself and share your passion with your child. You can create opportunities for your child to like the destination country and its people by traveling there and having a good time, connecting with people from that country and helping your child find peers, enrolling your child in their favorite activities (be it soccer). or pottery) in the language of your choice. For younger children, you can help by talking well and positively about family members or people from that country. And of course, be very patient and give lots of praise for even a small improvement or just a good effort.
Success factor # 6: Persistence of parents
Bilingualism is not a term or semester project like an art or pottery class. Once you’ve decided and settled in with your partner/wider family, you’re committed for several years, and your ability to stick to your long-term goal, persistence and adaptability even in new and changing circumstances will be crucial to your children’s language success. . One of the best ways is to find a group of like-minded people.
Success Factor #7: Consistency of Strategy
Once you choose a strategy, it will be important to stick with it throughout your child’s language journey. Your little one’s safety and your relationship with him depend on it. Your chosen language is not a means of communication. It is the emotional bond you have with your child. The literature on bilingualism recommends not changing the chosen strategy – the only exception is if your child is old enough to clearly agree with it.
Success factor #8: Have fun with exposure
This is one of my favorite success factors because making language learning fun not only makes it work for your kids, but also makes it so enjoyable for us parents. Who doesn’t love to see our children smile? Using games and songs is one of the best ways to make language learning fun. Learning a language requires a lot of repetition, and games and songs allow you to naturally repeat the same sentences without repeating them over and over again. They also create situations to use real language instead of made-up sentences in textbooks or artificial situations in role-plays. Thus, games and songs create interactive confidence in a fun way.
Success Factor #9: Plan for Continuity
Some of us are expats and our lives take us from country to country with new conditions that turn the seemingly simple into another challenge. In short, life is constantly changing for many of us. As parents, we need to make a real commitment and think ahead to our children’s bilingualism. It takes about 2 years of continuous, regular exposure to a language for your child to settle or become comfortable with it. Where can you be in 2 years? How will you ensure continuity for your child’s language development and goals? Keep these questions in mind when deciding how many languages you want your child to learn.
Fortunately, once you’ve set your goal and strategy, all you need to change in a new situation is your language plan and its execution.
Success Factor #10: Siblings
Siblings can be a huge help or hindrance to your younger child’s bilingualism – depending on how well you manage your older child’s language journey. If you’ve done well, the older sibling will provide additional language exposure for your younger sibling and you’ll get more verbal exchange in your desired language, but if you missed the boat with the first, it can backfire on the second/third and clue as well. language balance in the wrong direction.
Finally, I mentioned the eleventh factor: your child’s aptitude for languages. It is a genetic factor and the only factor you have no influence or control over. Some children are better at languages than others. However, all other 10 factors are within your control. So use them!
To create your child’s family-friendly language success plan, “Make Your Child Multilingual!” Available at http://www.amazon.com/Make Your Child Multilingual, it has been proven to work for hundreds of families before. In 10 easy steps, this workbook guides and teaches you how to create a powerful personal success plan tailored to your family’s needs.
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