For a long time, bilingualism in children was viewed as a hindrance to cognitive development, as many bilingual children were slower to communicate with their caregivers. But research has shown that, far from limiting them, bilingualism actually enhances the cognitive and linguistic development of children by helping them acquire two language systems. While they may be slower to talk, their responses will be markedly better and more sophisticated than monolinguals of the same age. For parents living in this globalized society, this is a sign that your child should be raised bilingual too. What better way than to teach them your native language and a global language. Here’s how to raise a balanced bilingual child fluent in a native language and English (as a global language).
One Parent- One Language
Expose your child to two languages from their birth, or even before if possible. There are many different models of bilingual language but the most popular is when the two parents speak different languages to their child. For instance, the mother would speak Arabic and the father would speak English. Contrary to popular belief, children respond equally to both, having no problems with two different languages. And when they start talking, you will notice that they alternate between the two languages depending on who they are speaking to.
One Language at Home; the Other Outside
Another way to encourage bilingualism in a child is to speak a different language at home than the one they will be exposed to most outside. For instance, if the dominant language of society is English, speak Arabic at home so your child will be exposed to both and become fluent in both. Another way is to expose them to a foreign/ global language in a structured environment; enrolling your child in a British nursery Dubai ensures that they will hear and acquire English because they are exposed to it for regular periods over a long time.
An added advantage of a British nursery is that they will be exposed to standard, idiomatic and structurally correct English.
Code- Switch and Code- Mix
These technical terms refer to instances where people ‘mix’ two languages when speaking, either within the same sentence, or in two different sentences within the same dialogue. Bilingual children also frequently code switch and mix. Code switching and mixing was frowned on for a long time for “interfering” in learning language, until researchers realized that it helped children learn language faster. Parents’ today code switch and mix frequently with their children to help them learn two languages simultaneously, and teach them that it’s a sophisticated way of speaking that cannot be done by everyone. Code switch in your own speech as your child grows older so they will be proud to be bilingual.