Bilingualism: Ten tips

Oxford Brookes BabyLab

Ten tips for helping your children learn two or more languages

We have ten tips for helping your bilingual or trilingual children learn two or more languages from Dr Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez:

1. Create opportunities - Give them lots of opportunities to hear and practice speaking in both of their languages

2. Stick to your comfort zone - Choose an approach that works well for you and your family.

3. Don't force it - It's ok to be flexible with your approach and adjust if needed. Also, you shouldn't penalise your child for using the "wrong" language with a specific parent or place.

4. Make it fun - Try to associate the language with something fun, for example, if your child likes cooking, try to have cooking time in that language!

5. Make a connection with the language - Teach your child about countries that speak that language including their culture and history

6. Try to make the language relevant and useful - Children often realise that they can communicate with more people by using the majority language of where they live. You can help promote the minority language by creating an environment for it, for example, you could make friends with other French families or visit family in France

7. Read lots - Read books with them in both languages! You can even ask them which language they would like to hear the story in and translate the books yourself

8. Name the languages - Early on, try to make it clear to your child that there are two systems by calling the languages by their name. This will help your child to identify each language.

9. Provide context - When introducing new words, use familiar sentences in the languages so the child can identify the language that the word belongs to, for example, "this is X" or "esto es un X"

10. Be persistent - Sometimes it will be hard but the most important thing is to have quality and quantity of exposure to both languages