Many parents of newborns ask me about the best way to raise their child to be bilingual. Some parents ofr spouses speak a second language, have relatives or a nanny available to talk to their child in another language. There are many options and ways to expose your child to a second language and help them become proficient in it. It takes time and commitment but is worth it.
A helpful resource for families considering raising a bilingual child is the newly released 7 Steps to Raising a Bilingual Child by Naomi Steiner, M.D. A developmental-behavioral pediatrician at Tufts, Dr. Steiner grew up speaking four languages and her Swiss husband five languages. Her personal experience raising her two children to be bilingual as well as dealing with bilingual families in her practice make this guide especially helpful.
She deals with the benefits of raising a bilingual child, how to do it, common myths, dealing with predictable obstacles, and how to teach your child to read and write in another language. Resources at the end include websites that offer educational activities, podcasts, encyclopedias, and books in a second language.
Her 7 steps are:
1) Establish the right foundational understanding of bilingualism by (a) understanding what’s happening in your child’s very adaptable brain and (b) the myths related to learning multiple languages early
2) Be intentional about setting expectations and goals
3) Realize that success is associated with your being an effective coach to your child and knowing what that entails
4) With the help of simple templates, build out an action plan that will organize your “intentionality”
5) Understand predictable obstacles and have strategies to deal with them
6) Know how your success in this endeavor proceeds in the dimensions of both reading and writing
7) Finally adapting to your child’s schooling so that your efforts towards bilingualism are reinforced Let me know in the comments below if you have any other resources to share with parents embarking on this journey!