September Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism
So what is a blogging carnival? It is basically when a group of bloggers all write posts about a topic and submit them for publication in one spot. A blogging carnival on bilingualism is such a great idea because bilingual parenting can be difficult (but fun!), so creating a community of like-minded folks is a great way to gain support and learn new ideas for encouraging bilingual education in your home.
For more information about the blogging carnival, such as how to participate or host, please visit the carnival’s amazing administrator at Bilingue Per Gioco.
And now, on with the show!
Ways to Encourage Bilingualism
Of course, the number one question for bilingual parents is how to encourage their kids to be fluent in more than one language.
When bilingual or immersion schools are available, they are a tremendous help, but Dominique of Dominique’s Desk shares how even some minority language exposure at school needs to be supplemented at home. Elisa from Tercets also shares how her family reinforces at home the Spanish her daughter is learning at school. (This post also includes a great explanation about why dual language learning is so important).
Many parents have found that keeping learning fun is key. For example, Tallulah of Bilingual Babes has found some wonderful French websites that teach language in an enjoyable, interactive way. Tracey of Native Tongues has set up a bilingual playgroup to encourage her daughter to speak Spanish at the same time as she develops new friendships.
Tiffany of Mi Pancita Garcia shares how lullabies can be a great way to reinforce language and culture at the same time (and it works whether you have a great voice or not!). Melissa of Where Going Havo also found that teaching her child English songs and rhymes was a fun way to teach her about English culture while teaching the language.
Why is this the case? Lina of Best4Future (the host of last month’s carnival) has some wonderful observations about why using song and rhyme works. In addition, she made a great video showing how she puts this into practice to teach her daughter to count in Chinese. (Her kids are in the video as well, and they are adorable!)
Language development in bilingual children is particularly fascinating. Tallulah of Bilingual Babes reflects on code-switching and how to balance language learning, while Maria of Busy As a Bee in Paris uses a wonderful story about her daughter to illustrate how multilingual kids assimilate the grammar rules of different languages. She also shares a great way to use a child’s language mixing as a learning opportunity, while still keeping it fun.
Of course, bilingualism has social implications as well. Lynn of Open Hearts, Open Minds shares the tears that have come as her son adjusts to Spanish immersion preschool. Cordelia writes about her child’s growing understanding of how to distinguish which language to speak to which people, while I wrote about how being bilingual has affected my little Monkey’s relationship with his monolingual grandparents.
But it’s not just the kids who deal with these social situations – so do we! Annabelle of Gate and Canard raises a great question: How do you choose which language to speak to other multilinguals?
Dealing with Reality
We all have our ideals about how it will be to raise our children to be bilingual, but then we are faced with the reality of our daily lives and often struggle to maintain our vision. Frances of Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes talks about how her earlier ideas about raising a bilingual child have clashed with the reality of being the sole Spanish speaker in her son’s day-to-day world, and Chantilly of Bicultural Mom discusses her struggles to become fluent in Spanish in order to teach her daughter.
One solution? Travel! BabelMum shares how single language immersion during a recent trip to Algeria helped her children leap forward in their language development. (More great videos here!)
But what to do when a trip like this is not possible? Many bilingual families feel they are adrift in a monolingual sea, yet Sarah of Baby Bilingual talks about how her family has turned this situation around by taking advantage of the opportunities that are available to them.
Chantilly of Bicultural Mom reminds us that the choice to raise your child to be bilingual is about so much more than language. It also has cultural and political implications that make the bilingual experience unique.
Learning language is also intimately connected to heritage and family. Maggie of Life at the Zoo shares a very “sweet” tradition from Germany that she has transferred to her son’s English education and wonders whether she will have to bend the rules of tradition to do it all over again when he starts German school.
Finally, Elizabeth of La Mother Tongue tells of the inspiration behind her drive to raise her daughter bilingually, sharing the story of her amazing grandmother, whose name Elizabeth’s daughter now carries.
Thank you to all of this month’s participants for sharing these wonderful posts, and to Bilingue Per Gioco for sponsoring the Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism!