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How to start with Bilingualism at home

on Mon, 13/05/2013 - 22:07

Twelve years ago I came to live in Lecco (Lake Como) and had to learn Italian as fast as possibile. English was and still is not very much spoken where I live. I’ve managed to speak the Italian language in three months, studying every day really hard for hours and hours. I can tell you there was nothing fun about it.
But I had to, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do my groceries at the supermarket, to make new friends, or to manage all necessary permissions to live here etc etc. 

It is true that for us adults learning a second (or in my case a fith language) is far less a spontaneous process as it is for children. Immediately from birth ( and I know even before in mom’s belly) a kid learns a second language easily. It’s a natural thing as it is to learn to walk is for the child. So why don’t grasp this opportunity for your child? Why don’t make a worldcitizen from your child?
That’s what i will be writing about in this post...

Since this wake up moment I was sure to teach my child immediately from birth more then one language- I wanted to make her bilingual and even better multilingual.
Chanel is 7 now and speaks Italian, English, Dutch and Mestreechs (Dialect).
As a teacher I was convinced that it would be also a GOOD thing to bring my project ‘Early Language Learners’ to Italian Kids and their families. 

Before I show you how easy and fun it is to learn a second language, I would love to answer the most asked questions that parents ask me relating to bilingual learning. 

Frequently Asked Questions related to Bilingualism

- What means being bilingual?

- When should you start introducing a second language to a child?

- What are the advantages of being bilingual?

- How do you become bilingual?

These are my answers, based on personal experiences, researches and other blogs from moms in similar situations.....(You can find them under this article).

Being Bilingual

Growing up in a bilingual way doesn’t mean that a child speaks two languages in a perfect way, but that it knows how to use the languages on a regular base. The word “languages” includes also the ability of speaking dialects.  * (Bilinguismo, un cervello, due lingue - D. Gabrielli, Ufficio Infanzia Dipartimento della Conoscenza)

The best age to start raising your child in a  bilingual way?

I wouldn’t wait to introduce a second language until a child masters one language in a good way, something that many parents think is the best to do, I recommend that you start during pregnancy already! 

A baby in the womb of it’s mother starts developing hearing skills at the 4th or 5th week of the pregnancy and research shows that they recognize certain prenatal sounds after birth! One of the research doctors placed a small microphone inside the womb after the water broke. Thanks to this experiment we know what this baby was able to hear ..... voices in the room, bodysounds of the mother (heart beat, breathing), but also the Ninth symphony of Beethoven! KLAUS &KLAUS decribed these researches in their fabulous book “Your Amazing Newborn”. 

Science writer Annie Murphy Paul spoke at TED how much babies already learn before birth.
I loved it when she said that a baby cries in the dialect of it’s mother!

“From the moment of birth, babies cry in the accent of their mother’s native language.”
Please check the video out here.

The advantages of becoming  bilingual

A kid that learns how to speak two or more languages has some supercool advantages compared to monolingual peers...

  • the easy entrance to different kind of cultures opens up their minds and prepare them of becoming (peaceful) worldcitizens;
  • as an adult they’ll have more work possbilities, in times of economical crises like these we need to think ahead!
  • they will be flexibel, having less problems switching between different kind of situations and be able to see things from more perspectives.
  • Bilingual kids learn to read sooner and apprehend easily a third or fourth language! 

How to raise bilingual children?

A very famous method is called OPOL - One Parent One Language, other methods you can read here . But if I have to be very sincere to you...I don’t believe in methods, but I do believe that when you choose to raise your child in a certain way, despite your background, all is possibile.
Please let me give you some input that might inspire you in raising your child in a bilingual way....
You can Click here to read all about it!

All the expertslined up with GREAT blogs and advices!!

Bilingualism in general

Raising Bilingual Children - General / Frequently Asked Questions / Different Methods /Top Ten early advantages / advantages being bicultural

Moms Speaking about Raising their kids in more languages

Kid World Citizen - Benefits of being Multilingual

Moms gone Global - How does a Monolingual parent raise bilingual children?

In Culture Parent - 29 tips for raising bilingual kids & Why doesn't OPOL doesn't always work & how bilingualism can fail in multilingual families

European mama - Why does everybody think that

All done monkey - 5 myths of bilingual children that you shouldn't believe

On raising bilingual children - The importance of monolingual situations for bilingualism

Expat since birth - 5 tips for expats about how to encourage your children to learn the local language & Don't worry if your child does code switching  & The importance of reading for Multilingual Children

Discovering the world through my son's eyes - Challenges raising my kid bilingual

Please HOP over to my article with many pratical tips HOW to start introducing bilingualism at home


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