March 8, 2008

Tips on Raising Bilingual Children

I just read a good article called "Raising a Bilingual Child" (it's a pdf) by Julia Gariel and Jo Bristow. It gives good, common-sense tips, many of which we follow with our own children and those at the preschool.

Here's an excerpt.
For language learning to be successful it is essential that all exposure provides positive experience. There is no room for destructive criticism or negative comments. What the child needs is praise for effort, celebration of success, joy and laughter. Don't worry if he makes mistakes in grammar or pronunciation. Try to avoid correcting negatively. Just repeat the sentence back to him accurately, model it for him. In time he will automatically use the right structure which the language-learning area of his brain will have stored away for future use. For example:

Child: "Want go now park."

Adult Solution A:
"That's not the right way to ask. If you want to go to the park learn to ask properly. Say it like this . . . No, like this . . . ."

Result A:
Child feels wrong, gets bored repeating words, loses interest in going to the park, loses confidence in his ability to make his needs known. A learning opportunity is lost.

Adult Solution B:
"You want to go to the park now? I want to go to the park now, too. We'll go when we're ready."

Result B:
Child hears his sentence modeled correctly and stores it away. His needs are acknowledged, he feels good about the communication. Further language learning opportunities will take place in the park.
There are several other articles too. Check them out here.

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