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ginaa
ginaa , Teacher asks:
Q:

Raising a multilingual child: How can I make sure my child knows my native language when growing up in the US?

In Topics: Learning a second language
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Louiseasl
Jul 27, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Hello and thank you for asking a very important question!  As you know, many families in the United States are raising children in bilingual/bi-cultural settings.  This is a wonderful asset to the development of any child.

How to keep your "native" /home/first language alive?  First, use it!  Embrace the essence of having a multicultural home. Set aside special times that you use your first language.  Perhaps when you go to stores speak first in your home language and then tell the child the name of the item in their second language (English).  Dinners can be in your "native " language as well.  Children are "sponges" and can soak up multiple languages.

Many children can use oral/spoken expression of their home language, however, they cannot read or write in this language. So, my second suggestion is to read to them and teach them written expression, too.  Therefore, later in life they will have great skills to use in school and the workforce as people who are truly bilingual and able to translate or transliterate.  

However, please note that American Sign Language (ASL) is not a written language, thus, families that use ASL should teach their children the dynamics of this visual language through signed stories or books with sign and word used in tandem.

Third, teach your child's friends your home language.  I have many deaf friends and we use sign language in our home from time to time.  Teaching friends of my children a few phrases has been fun and very valuable.  It helps to bridge communication gaps with others in the community.  Also, if grandparents or non-English speakers should visit then your children and their friends will be able to communicate.

Lastly, show your child that you are also bilingual by using the languages you know.  If you do not have English fluency then you may wish to take an ESOL class at a local college or through state programs.  Knowing the basics of reading and writing in English will be useful when your child asks for help with school or home work.


Good luck and  embrace your multicultural home.  


Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of Signing Families
http://www.SigningFamilies.com

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Additional Answers (4)

omnamashivaya
omnamashivaya writes:
hai ginaa iam highersecondary student,my opinion is that you must show  him native language films ,talk with him in your native language,
and more important you must give him basics  about your language and it's importance.
> 60 days ago

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hlevitan
hlevitan , Teacher writes:
Gina,

I am glad you asked this particular question.  Many parents want to keep their children connected to their native culture and language, which can be difficult when raising them in the U.S.  

As you may know already, you have the responsibility and the privilege to educate your child about his/her cultural heritage and native language.  Speak and read to your child both in English and in your native language.  Practicing your native language at home with your child is a great way to make him/her a bilingual speaker.  

If you can, visit your home country with your child.  Speaking your language with other people in your home country can relay the importance of your language and culture.  You can even enroll him or her in language classes at home, and you can become involved in the local community of your culture in the U.S.

Exposing your child to your native language and culture will not only help your child become proud of your heritage, but it will also help him/her develop multilingual skills at a young age.  Learning these language skills early can also help your child more easily acquire other languages later in life.

Here is an article that speaks to the importance of a bilingual education, âÇťFostering Second Language Development in Young Children:âÇŁ http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Fostering_Language/

You may have heard this already: the U.S. is less of a melting pot and more of a tossed salad.  Teach your child about his or her roots, and he or she will better appreciate and accept other people and cultures.  

Best wishes,

Hayley
> 60 days ago

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Literacyounts
Literacyounts writes:
I am an early childhood educator who has worked with many bilingual and multilingual children. I suggest that you use your native language at home most, if not all, of the time. In addition, purchase books and videos in your native language.  

@literacycounts
> 60 days ago

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sanjaykumardwivedi
sanjaykumar... writes:
first use native language when u are at home .
> 60 days ago

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