12 things parents raising bilingual children need to know - multilingual parenting - bilingual children 1 – It doesn’t happen by magic Children do not become bilingual “by magic”. There is a persistent myth claiming that “children are like sponges when it comes to language” and that they will learn all languages they hear regularly – this is simply not true. Yes, in the right circumstances children will naturally grow up to acquire the family languages, but this cannot be taken for granted. 2 – You need a plan To be in with the best chance of succeeding in bringing up bilingual children, you need to [plan ahead](http://multilingualparenting.com/2013/08/07/fail-to- plan-plan-to-fail/). How fluent do you want your children to be? What about reading and writing? Who speaks what and when? Discuss this in the family and agree on the goals. 3 – Consistency is crucial Once you have your plan, you need to commit to it as a family and [stay consistent](http://multilingualparenting.com/2013/09/11/the-importance-of- consistency-when-raising-your-daughter-to-become-bilingual/) in your language use. Yes, children can certainly become bilingual if parents mix their languages with them, but the risk that they will at some point prefer to stick to the majority language is far greater if they have become used to the minority language parent easily switching to the majority language. 4 – You will have to pay attention to exposure times Once you have your plan, you need to look into how much exposure your children get to each language. There is general recommendation that children should be exposed to a language at least thirty percent of their waking time to naturally become bilingual. This should however only be taken as a guidance – depending on the type of exposure, children might need more or less time to acquire a language. 5 – You will have to invest some extra time (and sometimes maybe a bit of money) You will need to find the time talk a lot, to do the [reading](http://multilingualparenting.com/2014/01/08/bilingual-children-why- reading- is-important-part-1-of-3/) and to find [resources](http://multilingualparenting.com/2013/09/18/ideas-on-where-to- find-on-line- resources-in-your-language/) to help your children learn the language. You might find that you need to use your holidays to make a trip to boost your children’s motivation to speak the language. 6 – There will be doubters Not everyone will agree with you that it is a good idea to raise your children to speak all family languages. There will be those who tell you that there is no point, that it is [not going to work](http://multilingualparenting.com/2013/02/09/why-some-children-do-not- become-bilinguals-but-yours-still-can/). Others will think that you are [expecting too much](http://multilingualparenting.com/2013/04/10/are-you- being-a-push-parent-by-insisting-on-raising-your-son-to-become-bilingual/) of your children, and some will say that you are [confusing your children](http://multilingualparenting.com/2013/01/28/you-are-confusing-your- child/) with all these languages. Ignore these doubters, but also forgive them, as they do not know what they are talking about. 7 – Don’t listen to bad advice There might be times when a professional tells you to [stop speaking a certain language](http://multilingualparenting.com/2014/01/29/bilingual-parents-what- to-do-if-you-are-told-to-drop-one-of-your-languages/) to your children. If in doubt with regards to your child’s language development – speak to a specialist who is experienced in dealing with bilingual children. 8 – It is not always easy There will be all sorts of challenges along your family’s multilingual journey – apart from the doubters and the ill-informed “experts” there will be more mundane obstacles: will you be able to stick to your plan when “life happens” and offers its surprises in form of changed family circumstances, moves, career progressions, influence from others and so on? When it feels difficult, ask for advice and help. 9 – Your child might answer you in the “wrong” language** This one usually hits the minority language parent. You feel that you have done everything right and stayed consistent, and still your darling comes home from school one day and [no longer answers you in your language.](http://multilingualparenting.com/2013/01/30/the-uphill-battle- getting-a-response-in-the-wrong-language/) You will feel disappointed and disheartened if it this happens, but it is crucial that you don’t give up at this point, and that you continue to stay consistent and if possible, also increase the exposure time. 10 – Your children will gain an array of benefits by becoming bilingual If you are still in doubt about whether to bring up your children to become bilinguals or not, read about all the [great benefits](http://multilingualparenting.com/2014/01/22/bilingual-is-better-the- advantages-of-speaking-more-than-one-language/) your children will gain if you do decide to do it. We all want what is best for our children, so why wouldn’t you support yours to have the wonderful gift of speaking more than one language? 11 – You will never regret it I can assure you, you will not regret your decision to stick with it and make sure that your children grow up to speak all the family languages. On the other hand, I have heard several parents who are sad that they gave up on passing on their languages – not to mention the many adults expressing their disappointment that they were [not taught a language](http://multilingualparenting.com/2013/06/19/i-wish-my-mum-had- taught-her-language-to-me/) their mother or father knew when they were small. 12 – You will be proud You will be immensely proud when your children for the first time speak to their grandparents or other relatives in “their” language. I can assure you that the feeling is absolutely wonderful. Not only will you be proud, so will your children and the rest of your family. You will also be a great role model to other families. May the peace and power be with you. Yours, Rita 1、掌握双语不会凭空发生 孩子们不会凭空具有双语能力。有一个长久以来的迷思,声称“在学习语言方面,儿童就像海绵一样”,他们能学会所有经常听到的语言——这种说法完全不正确。没错,在合适的条件下,孩子们会自然地学会家庭中使用的语言,但也不能认为这理所当然就会发生。 2、你需要有计划 想要尽可能成功地培养出掌握双语的孩子,你需要未雨绸缪。你希望孩子能够讲得多流畅?在阅读和写作方面呢?谁来讲某种语言?什么时候讲?这些问题需要家里人的探讨,并在目标上达成一致。 3、一致性很重要 制定了计划之后,全家就要致力于实施该计划,并在语言的使用上保持一致。没错,家长们如果混合使用语言,孩子们也肯定能掌握双语,但如果使用弱势语言的家长轻易地转向使用主要语言,那么孩子未来更倾向于使用主要语言的风险就比较大。 4、要留意语言接触的时长 制定了计划后,你就要考虑孩子在对每种语言接触的时间长短了。通常的建议是,孩子接触两种语言的时间至少应各占清醒时间的30%,这样才能掌握双语。不过这只是个指导方向——取决于接触语言的方式,孩子掌握语言所需的时间会有或多或少的不同。 5、你会不得不投入一些额外的时间(或者金钱) 你需要找时间来大量对话、做阅读和寻找帮助孩子学习语言的资源。可能你要利用假期来带孩子出门旅行,以提高他们使用这种语言的积极性。 6、会有抱怀疑态度的人 不是所有人都会同意你的这种看法,认为培养孩子学会家庭中的所有语言是个好主意。有些人可能会说,这样做毫无意义,这是行不通的。另一些人会认为你对孩子期望值过高,也有人会说这些语言会让孩子感到困惑。不要在意这些怀疑人士,但也要谅解他们,因为他们并不知道自己在说什么。 7、不要听从错误的建议 有时候专业人士可能会告诉你,不要再对孩子说某一门语言了。如果在孩子的语言发展方面有疑问,请咨询有双语儿童应对经验的专家。 8、过程不会一帆风顺 在这趟多语言的家庭旅程中,你会遇到各种挑战——除了怀疑论者和蹩脚的“专家”们,更多的是一些日常的障碍:当生活中有了“不期而至”,带来家境变化、搬迁、职位升迁和其他影响等等形式的惊喜,你能够继续坚持执行计划吗?如果觉得有困难,请寻求建议和帮助。 9、孩子们可能会用“错误”的语言回答你 这种情况常常会让使用弱势语言的家长受到打击。你觉得自己做了所有该做的事情,保持了一致性,但你的宝贝某天从学校回来之后,就不再用你的语言回复你了。如果发生了这种事,你会感到失望沮丧,但重要的是,这时不能放弃,你要继续保持一致性,并且如果可能的话,增加孩子与这种语言的接触时间。 10、掌握双语后,孩子将会获益良多 如果你还在踌躇,是否要培养孩子的双语能力,了解一下在你下定决心后,孩子掌握双语将会有哪些好处。我们都希望为孩子提供最好的,那么为什么不送给孩子一份掌握多种语言的礼物呢? 11、你永远不会后悔的 我可以向你保证,你不会后悔这个坚持下来的决定,并且确保了孩子长大后能讲家庭中的所有语言。另一方面,我也听到了一些父母为放弃了传承自己的语言而表示难过——更不用说很多成年人为小时候父母没有传授他们一门语言而感到失望。 12、你会很自豪 当孩子第一次使用“他们”的语言与祖父母或是其他亲属对话时,你会无比自豪的。我可以向你保证,那种感觉无与伦比。不仅仅是你自己,孩子和其他家庭成员也会感到自豪。你也会为其他家庭树立很好的榜样。 愿和平和力量与你同在 你的, 丽塔