How to raise your children multilingual

 

Nearly every day we see somewhere a family speaking more than one language and the children answer in different languages too. But what does it mean to raise children multilingual?

In our globalized world, languages are important skills and learning them in the childhood makes it easy to acquire them. But you have to plan it carefully in advance.

 

Strategies
First of all, you have to agree on a strategy and on “who will where speak which language.” This can be “one parent; one language” or “one language; one environment.” The first one means, that both parents speak different languages with their children, the second that at home you speak one and out of home another language.

 

Stick to the strategy
As soon as you decided together, who speaks which language, stick to it consistently! Important is to read a lot with your child. If the father speaks with the children German but only 2 hours in the evening, it might not be enough for them to adapt to the language. It needs continually exposure to the language and training. It is also about you and getting routine in exposing them to your own language. To raise children multilingual is an intense job.

 

Ask for support
Your family also speaks one of the two languages? Motivate them to also speak with your children in another language. This can include two weeks summer holidays at grandparents’ home and being intensively exposed to the language.

 

Parenting is often a thankless job. All the hours of lost sleep will never come back. But multilingualism is something your children will always be thankful for. If you have the possibility to learn them more than one language – do it! It will be worth every effort it takes.

And if your parents only speak German, it will be great when their grandchildren will be able to speak with them 🙂

Good luck.
Ben & Emma