How to Raise a Multilingual Child
The advantages of being fluent in more than one language are manyfold. However, this multilingualism does not come without its drawbacks, chief among which is the larger amount of effort and care at first required when raising a younger multilingual child.
Many new parents of infants and toddlers across the world may be scratching their heads at how to best go about education both in and out of school for their aspiring multilingual child. This issue becomes more significant if said parents don’t speak the other languages that their child is learning.
So, we thought it best to cover both the pros and cons of raising a multilingual child, along with some solutions to making the best of those cons.
Without further ado, the pros of raising a multilingual child:
- It is simpler to learn languages in one’s early years than it is later on in life.
- When your child is required to learn a new language later on during their schooling, they will have a huge advantage over their peers. The distinctions in sounds, syntax, stress, tone, and grammatical structures will be simpler to learn.
- Multilingualism improves children’s general reading and writing abilities.
- Multilingual kids will have altogether improved investigative, social, and scholarly abilities than their monolingual friends.
- Knowing more than one language will lead to a greater sense of confidence in a variety of social situations due to multilingual children’s ease of adaptability.
- Your child will have a better understanding of and appreciation for different societies and a natural insight into contrasting cultures.
- There are a larger number of professional possibilities for individuals who know more than one language.
And the cons:
- While there’s no solid scientific evidence that demonstrates multilinguals start talking later, anecdotally, many parents believe that there is a three to six-month delay compared to monolingual kids a similar age. However, it makes sense that a youngster learning at least two different language frameworks may require more time since they are really learning twice the number of words. Regardless, half a year is a small price to pay for the ability to communicate effectively in more than one language, wouldn’t you say?
- Then there is the notion of “mixing languages”. Blending words from different languages is normal in multilingual kids. In any case, this is a brief period. At four years old or five this will nearly vanish. Remember that youngsters who are learning just a single language regularly utilize an inappropriate word until they become familiar with the correct one. At the point when multilingual children can’t think about a word in Vietnamese, for instance, they may replace it with one from French or English. This consequently fades away as a child’s vocabulary grows. Patience is a virtue here — remaining consistent in your use of vocabulary with your child will greatly benefit them.
- As briefly mentioned at the beginning of this article, the biggest concern among parents is the extra amount of effort that is required when raising a multilingual child. As they say, good things take time, and it’s no different here — this is a long-term investment in your child’s future. It will require additional exertion on your part to give enough language exposure, additional support, consistent language patterns, and at times may even require you to change the flow of language within the family. It can feel somewhat cumbersome from at first when introducing a new language into your home environment, but after just a few weeks, it will become a routine part of daily life. Luckily, it’s simpler to bring up a second multilingual child if your first was raised that way also. Your first will wind up doing a ton of the work for you by just being a characteristically chatty selves as a toddler. Nearly all parents of multilingual kids agree that the advantages for their kids are certainly justified regardless of the effort required on their own part.
- For multilingual children, reading and writing may add to their educational workload, especially if you wish your child to be completely fluent in more than one language. For some parents, it’s sufficient enough if the kid can communicate in an additional language. While other parents may want to include reading and writing as well. Obviously, this is easier when the alphabet used is between languages is similar. Symbolic frameworks like Chinese will require more effort.
If you’ve read this far, it should be easy to see that raising your child to be multilingual has many advantages. Your additional effort during the early stages of their life will pay off exponentially for the rest of their lives.
ISSP, one of credible and high-quality international schools of Ho Chi Minh City, has extensive experience in nurturing and teaching multilingual children due to the fact that nearly all of our student population speaks more than one language. If you need some more tips on how to help raise your multilingual child, please contact our admissions team for further assistance.