As some of you might be aware, my husband and I have different first languages and therefore we very much want our children to be fluent in both languages. My husband’s first language is English and mine Portuguese.
Before our first child was born, I had no idea how to raise a bilingual child but I definitely didn’t want to leave it to chance. It was too important to be left to chance! So I did some reading on the subject and together with my husband we came up with a plan (sort of!).
WE WILL EXPOSE HIM TO BOTH LANGUAGES FROM THE MOMENT HE IS BORN!
Now I have 2 amazing kids at very different language development stages (one is 3 and a half and the other 18 months) both learning and speaking in English and Portuguese.
In a nutshell, these are the things we consciously do to develop both languages.
- When we lived in England we mostly used the ‘one parent one language’ approach. I would always speak to the kids in Portuguese and my husband in English. Since we moved to Portugal, this changed. My husband and I both speak English with them because they are exposed to Portuguese everywhere else.
- We read them books in both Portuguese and English every day. They love books and don’t have a preference for the language they are written in.
- Sometimes they mix up both languages in the same sentence. When this happens, I repeat the sentence back to them in both languages correctly so that they get used to the correct way of speaking. Every time they learn a new word i make sure i refer to whatever it is in both languages.
- When I speak to them in Portuguese I expect an answer in Portuguese and vice versa. This doesn’t always happen so instead of telling me to answer in the correct language, I repeat their answer back to them in the correct language. This seems to work a treat!
- We listen to music in both languages, we play in both languages, we watch cartoons in both languages and we sing in both languages.
Are you or do you know someone that is raising bilingual children? How are you/they getting on? Drop me a line to let me know. Would love to hear other people’s experiences.