What is multilingualism?
Multilingualism is where an individual speaks two or more languages.
Why is it important to raise a multilingual child?
In today’s scenario many are bilingual or multilingual. This gives your child the ability to monitor their environment which will help them quickly switch between the tasks in future. Some studies have mentioned that knowing second language improves the brain’s executive function. Many successful reformers, actors, leaders and activists were multilingual or also known as polyglots.
Myths about raising a multilingual child
Literacy and Multilingualism
- Children tend to get confused and have delayed development.
- Bilingual or multilingual child lag behind their peers.
- Multilingualism causes language delay.
- Children need to be smart to be bilingual.
- Leave the kids alone and they will learn things on their own.
According to UNESCO multilingual approaches to learning and teaching is a crucial element for acquisition of literacy among youth and adults. This also strengthens cultural identity and support the empowerment of the local communities in a culturally diverse society.
Strategies to introduce different languages
There are two strategies that are used to introduce different languages to your child.
One Parent – One Language (OPOL)
One parent always speaks one language to the child and the other speaks another. For e.g. Mother speaks in Tamil and father in Malayalam. In this way the child would converse only in that respective language to their parents.
Minority Language at Home
When family speaks only one language at home, the child learns the community or the social language outside the house. For e.g. When the family speaks in Urdu at home, the child would learn English and Tamil at school.
How to raise multilingual child?
- Start speaking to your child in the targeted language.
- You can also set a time frame in which you can switch between two different languages you know. For e.g. From morning till evening you can speak in Tamil and from evening till night in Marathi.
- Read out stories, watch cartoons and sing songs in the targeted language.
- Take the support of your family members to raise your multilingual child, ask them to speak in whatever minority language they know.
- Have patience with your little munchkins and let them learn in their own pace.