Raising Children to be Bilingual Uncategorized

Raising Children to be Bilingual

Raising Children to be Bilingual

I often hear, oh you speak both English and French to your children, that will help them with future jobs. Well, let me tell you, that has pretty much zero reasons as to why I chose to speak bilingually to my children. As of matter of fact, yes, it has helped me work in my field, but it is not why I am choosing this path for my children. Let me explain.

When I met my husband, I already knew that in my future I wanted kids, I had even told him that I would raise them to speak both English and  French. Id he has not liked that idea, we wouldn’t be together today. Yes, it was that important to me that I wouldn’t be with someone. But why so important?

  1. Being bilingual is what makes me ME

I grew up in a small French community with French-speaking parents. We spoke French at home, but we learned to speak English too. I went to a French school but grew up in a province where English is the dominant language, you quickly learn to speak both languages.

I love that I was able to speak both languages with my family and friends. Now, with my children, they can do the same. It’s amazing to me that at a young age, they know who to speak in French with and vice versa. It doesn’t faze them.

They have no problems speaking either language in their sports or if they are learning a new skill, such as piano. Learning to do things in both languages, stretches them to be adaptable.

2. Being bilingual helps with cognitive behaviour and learning

There are many studies out there that have shown that learning more than one language has a significant advantage for brain function. For example, this article “Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism” states the following reasons :

  1. Smarter
  2. Build multitasking skills
  3. You stave off Alzheimer’s and dementia
  4. Memory improves
  5. Become more perspective
  6. Decision-making skills improve
  7. You improve your English

3. Important to learn about different cultures

In my opinion, it is very important to be tolerant and accepting of others even though we may not always agree. I believe by being more open to other cultures, you open up to being more tolerant and accepting. You aren’t closed off and are learning about others through yourself. If I could teach my kids more than one language I would, but I only know of two. I can teach them about my French heritage, culture and traditions that I grew up with.

My husband and I are doing the best we can to teach them both English and French. He grew up learning Core French in an English school, but through my push to speak French at home with my kids, he is learning through them. He may not be fluent in French, but he can understand when someone speaks it. I am proud that he has accepted this for our family.

How do we make it work?

With school, I am the one who has contact with the school and teacher and I help with homework such as reading or writing. My husband will help if I am busy with the baby or if I am away. He even tries to read the notes we receive from school which is great. Any effort is appreciated by me.

We balance each other as much as possible. For example, I may be the primary helper for school, but my husband is the primary help for the extra curricular activities the kids do. For example, he will take them to their sports such as hockey all the time unless he is away from work. This works for us.

I want to stress that this was what works for our family, it doesn’t necessarily work for all. I am grateful we have the option to choose our school here and that we have access to both official languages. We do what work us, just as you all choose to do what works for you. We are all doing the best we can and that is all that matters!!

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19 Comments

  1. lisajakesmomma says:
    This was a very interesting read! I have a cousin who is from Poland and married to a Polish woman. She speaks only Polish and he speaks Polish and English. They are teaching their children both. My best friend is also from Germany and she lives in the US and is teaching her son English and German. I think its great to teach multiple languages. Kids pick them up so much faster than adults can.
    1. Absolutely! Children are little sponges and don’t even realize its work to learn.
  2. Thank you for sharing! My husbands family speaks primarily Spanish, but I know nothing. So our journey of learning will be together and reading this just makes me that much more dedicated to doing so!
    1. I don’t push my husband to learn it to be fluent, but I do expect him to support the kids and he is doing great. I never judge the way he tries to speak French, doing his best which I know would be the same for you. Just start small and say words that are around all the time, such as supper, you say the utensils in Spanish or something like that.
  3. I can relate because we live in Belgium, where my daughter speaks Dutch at school, and my husband french and we also have English and our mother tongue language in the Philippines, now Imagine us being polyglot family. Once the child knew when and to whom he should use the language, they are a sponge and it is easier.
    1. That is amazing! Your daughter is so lucky to be surrounded by it all. Wow!
      1. It is hard at times. But yes we have to make it work.
  4. cassiethemom says:
    I wish I spoke another language. I am hoping to get my kids into an immersion school though
  5. Good for you!! Being bilingual is such a gift you can give to your kids. My husband tries to speak Spanish to our kids much of the time but since I’m home with them the most they mainly speak English.
  6. I am currently trying to teach my daughter our native language, i do agree with you on how its very important to do this. it exposes them to other cultures and helps their brain overall.
    1. Whatever tools we can share with our kids, we should use. I’ve often heard people tell me they wish their parents would have spoke x language at home instead of just focusing on one.
  7. itisreal777 says:
    It’s a blessing that your children are able to speak to your family in French. There is nothing like being able to communicate to the ones you love in your Mother tongue.
  8. This was such an interesting read! I really hope my girls are bilingual. We are just starting to add some Spanish into our days and I am learning right along with them.
  9. This is awesome. Starting them young with both languages is a great idea.
  10. I love this!! I have a few friends who are teaching their children their native language, and when ever I go over, I always love listening to how the kids can so seamlessly talk both languages. If only I remembered the four years of French I took...
  11. spinalltheplates says:
    Being bilingual is such an incredible skill. Great job mama!
    1. Thank you, just following my traditions
  12. tjalva says:
    Really interesting post. Our son "had to learn" 3 languages and we kept them strictly apart at the beginning, German with my parents, English at home and Spanish at nursery and school... Unfortunately the school sees him being trilingual as a disadvantage. He's 7 1/2 now and yes, compared to kids with just one language he lacks a bit of vocabulary... Thank you for reminding me again why we want him to speak more than just Spanish!
    1. That’s great! It may seem as though the vocabulary is lower, but technically it’s richer. He knows how to say one word 3 times!!!!! That’s bloody amazing. What a gift for your son. Sometimes I feel my vocabulary isn’t the strongest ever either but, to be fair, I am much stronger than others that are unilingual. It will only get better and keep at it as they are sponges when they are young.

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