Did you know…
It’s a myth that bilingual children more commonly have disorders in speaking development
Bilingualism slows down Alzheimer for approximately 5 years
Bilingual children have bigger ability to be creative
Bilingual children have bigger ability to express their emotions
Bilingualism is a necessity for children that migrated to another country then they were born in, with their parents. Personally, I’m working with Polish children in the Netherlands and I realize that being bilingual is a great privilege as well as very hard work for parents and children themself to maintain high level communication skills in both languages.
Children always have a “stronger” language, which usually is the one that is used by most of the people in their environment: one of the parents, schools, friends, passersby, at the grocery store etc. For the purpose of this article, the “stronger” language will be called as a major language or as the first language. Read further to find out more about pro’s and con’s of having a bilingual family and how to maintain a good level of both languages for your children.
Writing and reading in a minor language
Most of the time, children that I teach have a hard time reading and writing in Polish, as their minor language. According to Katarzyna Czyżycka- a logopedist working with bilingual children, there are two ways of introducing your child into writing and reading in their minor language:
1) You can teach children writing and reading in their minor language simultaneously with the major one
2) You can teach children writing and reading in a minor language at first, before school’s program introduces them to writing and reading in the major language
As you can see in both cases- it is strongly advised to start immediately with writing and reading in the second language. Do no leave it for later.
Expressing emotions to children.
Another important subject that Katarzyna Czyżycka is mentioning is expressing emotions in the parent-child relation. Children will always empathise with their mother’s language when it comes to talk about emotions.
Mother, most of the time, is the first and the closest person that was expressing her love towards child and teach him/her connecting the true emotion with a particular word. Therefore, it will be natural for a child to express his/her emotions in the same language, as it has been delivered to them throughout their life.
What are the tools that could help your child “be around” the second language to maintain the language skills in a good level?
First thing that the author mentions is to not only to talk a child in the minor language, but to talk with a child in the minor language.
It is also advised to search for all kinds of activities that could bring your child to the environment of the language: holidays’ trips for children speaking the language, saturday schools, creative environment where teacher speaks in minor language.
Most of the children have a capacity of learning 4 languages at ones! They can pick it up very quickly from the environment, however, it is a hard work for a child to absorb all the languages and use them properly. It requires a lot of discpiline in the closest environment and consistency of the “one person- one language” rule at home.
What are your experiences with bilingualism? Do you have any advise for parents of bilingual children? Leave the comment below.
The article is based on the interview with Katarzyna Czyżycka- a speech therapist, working with bilingual children: