Cultural Dilemmas

Cultural Dilemmas and Issues of Asian Moms in the U.S.

Promoting Bilingualism/Multiligualism In Children

5 Comments

Many Asian moms in the U.S. complain that their children used to speak their native language before going to school, but once they start school, they talk only in English. The kids understand their language, but do not respond in it. What happens when they start school?

Children have impressionable minds. They see their teachers and classmates talking in English and they want to speak the same language to be accepted in this new environment. They carry this influence at home and start speaking English with their family as well. Some Asian moms try their best and are successful in keeping their children bilingual or multilingual, while others fail in their efforts.

Also, many Asian moms believe in different myths about raising bilingual children. These myths include assumptions such  as bilingualism may cause speech delays, their children may not be able to interact fluently with their friends in school, and the two languages might confuse them. Numerous studies have shown advantages of bilingualism among children which make them smarter than monolingual children.

Are you struggling to teach your child your native language? I have some suggestions which might be useful in making your child learn your language.

Reading Books In Native Language And Narrating Cultural Stories: Children love hearing stories. Read your cultural stories to them in your native language. This will motivate them to listen to the language and think and respond in it. These stories will make your language an important part of their childhood.

Make Children Participate In Cultural Activities: Language is an important part of any culture. Encourage your kids to participate in various activities associated with your culture and religion. This will provide them an opportunity to be in an environment where they can express themselves in your language and learn more about it.

Play Games With Them In Your Native Language: We have grown up playing games which are typical in our culture. Play these games with them using your language. You can also try playing language learning games with them.

Join Groups Of Families Doing Cultural/Religious Things Together: Give an opportunity to your children to learn the language by surrounding them with children speaking and doing things in your native language. Like, I have joined a group of families who get together bi-weekly and do prayers in my native language.

Make Your Children Talk To Their Grandparents In Your Native Language: Talking to grandparents in native language not only provides them an opportunity to practice their language, but also makes the family ties strong.

Be A Role Model For Them By Talking To Them In Your Language: Finally, it is important to practice what you preach. If you want your child to learn your native language, you have to speak it yourself.

Make language learning an enjoyable experience for your children by singing songs and nursery rhymes with them in your language. Do you have more suggestions about how we Asian moms can make our kids learn our language? Share them with me.

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5 thoughts on “Promoting Bilingualism/Multiligualism In Children

  1. As an Asian girl here in America, I found lots of Asian parents have the problem. Like the ones I meet on the cruise, they talked to their kid in Chinese every time they speak, but their kid reply every time in English. That little girl loves to sing, but she doesn’t even sing Chinese songs, lots of English songs instead. I asked to her: “can you speak Chinese or you just understand it?” She said she can understand it but kids in school don’t speak it, so she doesn’t want to speak it either. She finds its strange to be an Asian girl in school, and even stranger to speak Chinese in front of her schoolmates, so she just refuse to speak this language. That’s exactly what you are blogging about. These parents definitely need the help you provided in your post.

  2. Beautifully written and wonderful ideas to work on with my bilingual kid. At times watching some cartoons in native language and playing native music in the background is also helpful.

  3. As non-english speaker, it was always a fear that my kids will not learn my native language if I will not teach it to them. When I started teaching them my native language (German) and made it a point of not speaking English at home, many of my friends raised fear that they will be confused and not able to learn English. My kids speak perfect English outside and infact very fluently and with accent and speak perfect German at home with perfect Swiss German accent. I am surprised at the capabilities of human brain.

    Thanks for sharing your view point

  4. Judith, I had a similar situation two years back when my daughter started talking. My friends expressed concern that she is talking only in my language (Indian) at home, and it will be difficult for her to express her needs to teachers when she goes to school. She started communicating in broken English at her pre-school and I never had a situation when she wasn’t able to express herself. Gradually she picked up in no time and now she is fluent in both languages.
    Our kids are smarter than we think and it is very easy to make them bilingual when they are young. Keep up your efforts to make them bilingual, they are going to be proud of their bilingualism when they grow up and will give credit to you.

  5. I think that’s great if we can keep children in native languages and I think your tips are valuable. One of my relatives brought their girl (my sister) from China to Kansas since she was 4. She could speak Chinese very fluency before she leaving, but now she almost forget everything she had learned, and she have to keep practice to understand me. Now she is in college too, and she told me that there is still little chance for her to speak Chinese as fluent as English.

    It’s difficult to keep the language if we are not in that environment, so I think your advices are precious to Asian moms to keep their Children with the native language.

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