Raising a Bilingual Child

Raising a bilingual child is a noble goal. Children who speak two languages will be better prepared for school, travel, and the job market. However, raising a bilingual child is not an easy task. You need to be ready for some work. You must be patient, and be willing to give the effort to ensure that your child learns two languages.

Several strategies can be employed to raise a bilingual child. A child can be taught two or more languages. It is important that family members establish which languages to use at a given time. For example, one parent can speak one language while the other speaks another. However, when all members of the family are together, they should speak a language that all family members can use. 

Another method can be to use one language at home and provide enrichment classes in another language. This works best when family members have not acquired a second language but understand that there are several benefits to being bilingual. 

As children initially acquire another language, they will develop basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS). This language level is between beginner and low intermediate where one can hold and understand a conversation that is non-technical. After three to seven years, the child then develops cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP). This is where the child can use the language as a vehicle for education. 

There is no single way to achieve bilingualism and different factors come into play such as language of host country, language(s) of family members, heritage, and access to education in different languages. 

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