Parenting is a learning journey and although we try our best, we are always going to make mistakes. The important thing, is that we learn from them, and from those of others. From speaking to many parents who are raising bilingual or multilingual children, I have compiled a list of the most common mistakes:
1. Thinking your child will automatically become bilingual
One of the most common mistakes parents make is that they think that because they speak a language, that they can automatically pass it onto their child. This is definitely not the case. Raising bilingual children takes effort and a lot of patience and if taken for granted your child can end up being a passive bilingual, meaning they understand what you are saying, but are unable to speak back.
You will need to spend time with your child constantly talking to them, reading, doing activities, and anything else that will encourage them to speak in the language.
2. Assuming TV will teach your child a language
Children need human interaction to learn a language. Simply putting them in front of a TV will not teach them. If your child has a basic understanding already, then sure some TV can help improve it, but speaking, reading, and playing with your child is the best method.
3. Buying expensive toys and materials
Your child doesn’t need lots of expensive materials, a few simple things to use to aid their language development is enough. The main thing is using them in the right way to encourage conversation with you. Books are fantastic for this, reading to your child is one of the best ways to build their vocabulary and aid in their comprehension.
4. Correcting your child too much
By correcting your child every time they make a mistake you are stopping the flow of talking and disrupting them. Sure, correct important mistakes but know when to just let some things go.
5. Not being consistent
One of the main mistakes parents make is not being consistent. If you have a plan, make sure you stick to it. Whichever method you use, be consistent with it. Just like anything in life, practice makes perfect.
6. Thinking it is too late
Never think it is too late! There are many things you can do to introduce a new language and give them enough exposure for them to become bilingual. Of course the younger they are the easier it is, however children can learn a language at any age, and so can adults for that matter.
7. Listening to negative comments or advice
There are always going to be people who think it can’t be done, and others that think it is useless. There are so many myths about raising bilingual children and everyone is going to have an opinion. The best thing is to ignore any negative comments or advice and concentrate on the positives and why you want to raise your children to become bilingual.
8. Giving up
Don’t give up. It may seem hard initially but it will all be worth it. Children don’t learn languages overnight, so don’t expect results right away. Understanding comes before speaking and children need to hear words and phrases consistently. If you need to, seek support from outsiders, your children will thank you in the long run.
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