A Letter to Parents about Bilingualism
How are you? Do you find yourselves talking to your children in multiple languages? And does this somehow lead you to question how to go about it the right way?
It turns out to be very difficult to define the term bilingualism aptly. This is partly because there is no common definition of the term.
Bloomfield (1933) defined bilingualism as `native-like control of two languages´, while, in contrast, Mackey (1962) defined bilingualism as `the ability to use more than one language´.
However the most important question that I would ask you as parents would be: How do I, as a parent, support the language acquisition of my child in multilingualism?
A child, whether or not acquiring one or more languages, will always benefit from similar adult behaviors (linguistic support), with the quality and quantity of input being of particular importance in acquiring multiple languages (Tracy, 2007):
Quality means that parents speak in the language their child knows them to speak, best. Quantity means that a child can use the languages it acquires as often as possible.
The main rule, in my opinion as a Speech Therapist, is to be consistent and persevere, no matter which rules you follow and how you apply the languages at home and in your child’s environment. Just like any other form of parenting, if you are consistent, you will succeed, and your child will become bilingual soon enough!
Best of luck!
(Creative Educator and Speech Therapist)