Wednesday, 25 May 2011
10 Random Reasons for Bringing up your Children Bilingually
So for anyone considering bilingualism for their children, or anyone needing a bit of a boost to keep up the good work, here are random reasons for raising bilingual children. They are random because I'm sure there are more, and do please add them in the comments!
1. Your child will learn a second language without any of the hard work. Learning languages takes consistent and hard effort. Even if you're fluent once, you can lose it if you don't use the language. Children have the unique opportunity to pick a second or third language up without noticing the effort.
2. Your child will be able to learn further languages with greater ease.
3. Your child will find out and experience that there are different cultures and that this brings richness to their, and everybody's, life. Your child will thus also have a greater understanding and empathy for other cultures (or end up babbling away in made up Lithuanian just because that's where E. comes from and this is how she speaks - which can be a pain in the backside though I'm sure it will pass)
4. Your partner will pick up some more of your language without any effort
5. You will have an incentive not to forget your roots, and your language. In fact, it'll help you stay fluent in your mother tongue. (This statement will only sound odd to people who've not experienced forgetting their own language. It happens, it's sad, but it's the way it goes)
6. You will be able to share memories and create memories with your children which you would otherwise not have done. Kind of reliving your own childhood, but also enriching your own memories that may have faded a bit.
7. You will find a second community of parents which can give so much - support, fun, help you celebrate your culture, new friends, and realisation of how even parenting styles differ across countries! (or realise how un-German your selection of plastic toys really is and wonder why homeopathy is so much less available in the UK)
8. Your child will have natural opportunities to learn more than they would normally: Geography, travel, languages, festivals, maps, flags, words, you name it - there are two worlds to explore, how exciting for a curious mind!
9. You will keep in touch with your own background more which is really enriching. You'll find out about radio stations, books and audio books that you would otherwise not have, you will make sure to keep family and friends connection alive. You'll learn about your culture as your children ask you questions (what is Schuetzenfest? Why do they look like hunters?)
10. You will be able to pick and choose the best from two sets of media. We love Janoschs Traumstunde to bits, and Maus and Elefant prominent features in our home as is The Lion King. Never a daft TV programme again - if you have two cultures to choose the best of children's TV, books, and more from, you'll be spoilt for choice!
And all of that without mentioning that it might be useful in working life too...