I read a wonderful guest post over on Tiger Tales earlier on this week written by a mother bringing up multilingual children, the post wasn’t actually about the fact that her children are multilingual, rather it dealt with positive reinforcement and image issues that come with being a brown skinned child surrounded by images of blond hair and pale skin. I somehow still took from it how wonderful it is that the children are being raised with multiple languages in the house.
My parents both speak a second language fluently, I can speak neither of them and understand very little. It never bothered me when I was growing up. When my parents switched languages, we kids simply switched off as we knew they were probably talking about boring adult stuff such as money or family gossip. Now as an adult I now the value of having a second language and very much wish my parents had spoken to me in their mother tongue.
I speak a bit of Spanish and a tiny bit of Mandarin. Princess knows the odd word in all three of these languages because I want her to have a thirst for other languages. It’s all a big game at the moment, if we go to the Chinese takeaway she’ll show off and say hello, thank you and goodbye in Mandarin, when we were in Spain she bugged me to teach her how to say just about everything, she learnt hello, bye, thank you, see you later, I like your ball etc. Small baby steps but the foundations are being laid.
Research suggests that children who speak a second language at home pick up modern languages at school much easier than those who only speak one language. From personal experience of those around me when I was at school, this seems to be a solid theory.
Are your own children actively exposed to a second language at home? If not, would you consider sending them to lessons? There are Mandarin and Yoruba (my dad’s mother tongue) classes available for children, I’m thinking maybe it would be good to enrol Princess, or maybe it’s just pushy parenting?? I may stick to teaching her through play and books for now!