Raising Multilingual Children – 5 Quick Lessons

Have you ever been told that raising your child to speak multiple languages will harm their development?

Raising Multilingual Children – Julia Festman, Gregory J Poarch, and Jean-Marc Dewaele

Raising Multilingual Children is an incredibly reader friendly book on multilingual upbringing illustrated by case studies from the authors: Julie Festman, Gregory J. Poarch and Jean-Marc Dewaele who have experienced the tactics themselves on their own kids. The book is definitely one I recommend often when people ask after meeting my bilingual 3 year-old. Here are 5 Quick Lessons I’ve learned from the book of the week: Raising Bilingual Children.

The first reason to raising a child with more than one language is a pretty simple one: if you can why would you not?

Raising Multilingual Children – Julia Festman, Gregory J Poarch, and Jean-Marc Dewaele

1 – Children have the capacity to learn 3-5 languages simultaneously

Before the age of 3, if exposed to that many languages, children will naturally pick them up. in fact, until the age of 3, language is fairly abstract for kids. Parents can attest to their babies’ ability to communicate and understand without having many worlds at all. With almost 5X the active neurons in firing in their minds at any given moment, infants and babies possess superbrains! What’s a few languages to little minds that probably have the answer to the universe? Raising Multilingual Children challenges parents to shift their perspective on language development for kids, they are VERY capable of handling it, much better than adults in fact! Even if you don’t speak a second language, many parents have opted for Full-French daycares to give their children access to a second language with great success.

2 – Myth: It’s not normal

But it is! The vast majority of the world is at least bilingual. Unilingual people are actually in the minority. With the exception of some provinces and small areas of Canada, it’s very unusual that Canadians don’t speak both of the official languages. The US falls into this category as well because when you travel to Europe for example, most people can get by speaking an average of 3 languages of all of the neighboring countries. Now I don’t mean this as an insult to Canadians because obviously there are things that come into factor such as size of the provinces and cities in Canada; if we compare them to European Countries, most provinces are much larger than in size. Imagine not being able to speak to someone from Toronto if you came from Niagara Falls Ontario? Raising Multilingual Children helps normalize multilingualism by sharing many facts such as these that dispel common myths around the topic.

For one, because it will not cost them any conscious effort and the results will be really good.

Raising Multilingual Children – Julia Festman, Gregory J Poarch, and Jean-Marc Dewaele

3 – Your child will benefit from early Multilingualism.

The more input and exposure to different languages that they receive the better. Turn your netflix cartoons on in French! You will be surprised by it’s effect on your young ones developing little mind. Raising Multilingual Children also share studies that prove that multilingual are better more confident communicators that are well-eqipped to overcome obstacles in communication which will allow them to respond better to ambiguity and awkwardness. Raising Multilingual Children explains the science behind this one. It’s fascinating how much more confident a child becomes socially when they’re raised speaking more than one language. They have no difficulty speaking with people from different walks of life in their different languages as well. It becomes almost a show piece for them! Ask my 3 year old to teach you French, you will have a fully engaged and smiley little proud little man on your hands, and you will actually learn something!

Linguistic capital is also cultural capital.

Raising Multilingual Children – Julia Festman, Gregory J Poarch, and Jean-Marc Dewaele

4 – Language is culture

Culture and language goes hand-in-hand. Common analogies in English are much different than the common analogies and sayings in French which are much different than the ones in Spanish. The reason for this is because most of the way we’ve come to understand language has been tied to a notable historic events, or is telling of a historic way of life. In Raising Multilingual Children the authors simply put it this way:

Understanding the nuances between languages will help children realize that the subtleties in how you address people in one languages are richer, and possibly considered more important than others.

Raising Multilingual Children – Julia Festman, Gregory J Poarch, and Jean-Marc Dewaele

5 – Learn a New Language with your child

Not everyone speaks a second language, and that’s fine! When you start form infancy, you can teach yourself at the very same time! Think about the rate at which children learn to speak, one word at a time? You can make it there! I highly recommend getting Kids point and identify books in different languages, that is what has worked for me. The benefits of bilingualism for adults exist as well! It helps prevent Dementia because of the way it exercises the mind. It also makes traveling abroad much more easy and pleasant! Have you ever visited France of Quebec without speaking French? I haven’t, and I don’t feel the “coldness” other tourists describe. Instead I’m very well received with warmth and open arms.

There you have it! 5 Quick Lessons form Raising Multilingual Children. A book I have recommended time and time again! Please consider picking up this book! It helps multilingual parents implement an effective plan of attack that will help kids effortlessly thrive in their languages.

As usual, no book can possibly be summarized in 5 quick points, if you appreciated the quotes and tidbits I’ve shared from the book, I suggest you pick it up! At this price, it’s hard not to justify doing so.

Cheers to growing without the pain.


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