As you all know, my wife and I recently welcomed our son into the world (first child!) and I’m already talking with other polyglot parents to gain more insight into strategies for raising young kids to be bilingual.
Today Shannon Kennedy who blogs over at Eurolinguiste is sharing some of what she’s been doing and resources she’s using with her little guy (aka Little Linguist). Over to you, Shannon. ?
I had just turned down the lights in the room and placed my then 6-month-old in his crib. He was restless, fighting bedtime with an energy only a little one can muster. He sat up in his crib and laughed as I continued to prepare the room for the night before returning to the side of his crib. Seeing that he intended to stretch his waking hours to the limit, I decided to indulge him.
He stared at me, and then, in that uncoordinated, adorable way only babies can manage he clapped his hands together. Beaming, I grabbed my camera and requested the performance a few more times to capture the moment. It was the first time he responded to that particular request and I was as proud as any mamma could be.
This past year, much like Donovan, I welcomed my son into the world and we too decided to raise our sweet boy to speak more than one language.
We’re less than a year in and the journey it is a continual a whirlwind of excitement, exhaustion, overwhelm, euphoria and self-doubt. Especially since one of those languages is not the native language of either my husband or me. But every moment is well worth it.
In this post, I want to share some of the tools and methods we’re using to support Little Linguist’s language development.
It’s not one-size fits all approach – every family and situation is a little different – but I wanted to open up a discussion about what works for us in the hopes that it may help you if you’re interested in heading down a similar path.
Before Little Linguist joined us, my husband and I spoke both French and English at home. But since the addition to our little family, the number of languages we speak has also expanded. We knew early on that Little Linguist would learn to speak both French and English. He would need them to be able to communicate with family. But we wanted to give him every advantage possible, so we agreed that I would speak to him in Mandarin Chinese as well. It was a tough decision. We’ve heard every argument against it you can imagine. Ultimately, the decision is ours to make (and once he’s old enough, Little Linguist’s), so we do the best we can for him to help him in every way. Including giving him the advantage of being multilingual and multicultural.
Our approach to teaching our child foreign languages
We currently are using the One Person, One Language (OPOL) approach, but we may blend it with other methods as needed in the future. I speak with Little Linguist in Chinese while my husband and his family speak to him in French. We aren’t focusing on English at the moment, because we know he’ll learn it later on at school. But he still gets exposure to the language whenever we venture outside the home and when he spends time with my family. It’s a little overwhelming being his sole source for Chinese, particularly because it’s not my native language.
I’ve used the opportunity, however, to not only focus on my Chinese learning but to become more specialized in my knowledge. No easy feat considering the fact that it’s hard to learn child-related vocabulary without the help of a tutor!