How to raise bilingual kids in the second language ?
Hi everyone. This is Yasemin. I want to talk about how to raise my son bilingually in my non native language, English. First of all, I want to briefly describe my background. I was born and raised in Turkey. I am a native Turkish speaker who learned English roughly 3 years ago.I live with my husband and my son. We are currently living in Turkey. My son is 4 and he is going to Turkish kindergarten. In this article, I want to talk about my environment, methods and challenges with you in my journey raising my son bilingually.
By the way, if you want to watch related video, i am leaving the link down below the article.
Ever since I started learning English, I wanted my son to acquire English at an early age. Kind of don’t want him to struggle the way I struggled learning language. Back then, I knew for a fact that the only way to learn a language is to live in any English speaking country. After all, we came across opportunity and started living abroad for almost a year. On a related note, it wasn’t an English speaking country. We were lucky enough to find an international kindergarten whose teachers were speaking both native language and English. After my son had attended this school for roughly 6 months, he started acquiring English. But not in a way that he started speaking English from day one. As a matter of fact, he resisted talking English until we started speaking English at home to encourage him.
After we returned to our home country, I made a decision to raise my son bilingually. Seeing kids speak English even though they are taught by non-native speakers gave me encouragement to reach this decision.
Making this decision was hard but not as hard as put this decision into an action. As you can imagine, if you decide to raise a kid bilingually, you have to set up an environment at home. Despite the fact that everyone’s circumstances differ from one another, i’d like to share our environment to give you a better idea.
In the beginning, I didn’t know much about the methods of raising bilingual kids. So, my husband and i started speaking English when we were all alone. We immediately switched to Turkish when we were outside of the house or when someone else was around us. After a while, I realized that we wouldn’t carry on conversation in English if we stuck to this method. Therefore, i started speaking only English to him no matter what, or in which situations we are or who we are with. When I saw this method work for us, I decided to stick to it.
There is no complexity in our environment whatsoever. I have been only speaking English to my son everywhere 24/7.
The other topic which I found pretty important when it comes to raising kids bilingually is motivation. I’d like to talk about what makes me motivated and keeps me going on this journey. But before getting into that I’d like to be totally honest with you in this article. Because, i always felt discouraged when i read something about this topic in which author only shares the good side of the story and sweeping the challenges under the rag. It made me think that i am the only one struggling. I don’t want you to feel the same way i felt before. The reason i share content about this journey online is because helping anyone who wants to raise a child bilingually and yet struggling to find support. With said that, let’s talk about the challenges i had so far and anyone who wants to raise a kid bilingually is more likely to have.
- Felling pressure: you can get caught off guard about being your child’s only source of this language. You can feel tremendous pressure on your shoulder and end up being hard on yourself such as thinking questioning if you are doing the right thing.
- Kids can be resistant to the language you are introducing to.
- Being worried about what others think of you or being criticizes if you are the person who cares other’s thoughts.
- Constantly looking up the dictionary.
- Feeling not good enough. Thinking who am i to raise a kid bilingually.
- Feeling your energy getting drained after talking in the target language only for an hour. So on and forth.
Don’t get me wrong these are not the only challenges that i have. If i shared all the challenges, it would take a while :) Your list might be different from my list. At the end it comes down to that everyone woule be likely to have struggle on this journey. Believe me knowing that you are not the only one struggling will ease the burden on you.
What makes me continue on this journey despite all of the hardships is the way of thinking that my son will never struggle in the same way as i was learning a second language in adult age if i manage to raise him bilingually.
Believe me, never in a million years did i think my son starts speaking english at the age of 4 fluently. There is no magic in it. I made it happen only if being consistent and not letting any of the hardships are getting in my dreams.
Before wrapping up, there is one thing I’d like to say to those of you who are interested in bilingualism. Consistency brings success. Don’t be discouraged by anyone or anything which is gonna get in the way of your dream come true. If you keep speaking in the target language, sooner or later you will start seeing the improvements in both yourself and your kid.(It is proven by experience :) ) Please share your thoughts about this topic. I’d like to listen to your experiences, challenges and achievements.
As i told you, here is the video https://youtu.be/XTrrpcSO83E