In many parts of the world, raising a child that speaks more than one language is the norm. In the United States, on the other hand, helping your child to grow up truly bilingual can be very challenging. Yet it is possible. The key is early and consistent exposure to both languages. In most cases children in the United States attend schools, watch television shows and live in communities where English is the language that is spoken primarily. But there are things parents can do to help their children become bilingual.
If the parent and some of the children’s other close relatives are not native English speakers, they should make sure to communicate with the child in their native language beginning when they are very young. They should also make sure there are lots of opportunities for the child to communicate with others that speak the language the parents want them to learn. A recent article in The New York Times talked about how foreign speaking care givers and others can help a child learn a second language(www.nytimes.com/2017/07/10/well/family/raising-a-truly-bilingual-child.html).
For the child to grow up truly bilingual, people must continue to communicate with them in the second language throughout their lives. It also helps if they use media like radio, television, books and magazines in the second language as well. In ‘Raising a Bilingual Child’ by Barbara Zurer Pearson, the author gives step-by-step instructions and a host of valuable tips parents can use to help their child grow up bilingual. She also points out many of the benefits being bilingual offers. It’s just further confirmation that it is possible to raise a healthy, happy, bilingual child.
But parents shouldn’t be under any illusions. If you want your child to grow up bilingual, it’s going to take time and consistent effort.