Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Want to Raise Your Children Bilingually? Start Before They Are Born!

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Want to Raise Your Children Bilingually? Start Before They Are Born!"— Presentation transcript:

1 Want to Raise Your Children Bilingually? Start Before They Are Born!
Jackie Muirhead Santiago and Gabriela’s mom & Spanish Instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College,

2 Access this presentation at

3 Overview
I. Intro: Objectives and Terminology II. Getting to know each other III. Common myths IV. Why start before birth? V. A deliberate plan to re-visit over and over VI. Factors for success VII. Final Comments and Questions

4 Introduction: Objectives
1. Share research and anecdotes, exciting you to possibility of raising bilingual family 2. Offer suggestions 3. Encourage you to celebrate and instill pride in those that have made commitment to bilingualism. Dismiss the myths. Share the benefits. Convince students that bilingualism should always be seen as a positive.

5 Introduction: Terminology
-Not clear -Teachers strictest in their defn: balancing two languages equally, being able to move back and forth seamlessly, without accent. This is almost NEVER the case… one language is usually stronger, maybe even be illiterate in one -Most commonly accepted defn: USING 2 or more languages in their everyday life.

6 Introduction: Terminology
Different Language Systems OPOL – One Person, One Language - Minority Language at Home – target language spoken at home by all family members and the majority language elsewhere T& P Time and Place/ Accidental Bilingualism due to family transfers to different countries

7 Getting to Know Each Other
Show of hands… raised bilingually, OPOL, multilingual, started language study in high school or later My husband, Pablo, and I in 1995, both with Spanish Ed majors. P-bilingual, I started at age 14

8 More about my family Considered OPOL, decided with the help of Pablo’s parents who live within blocks First six weeks as parents was spent in Bogota, Colombia.

9 More about my family Exposed Santiago & Gabriela to books, music and trips, in addition to day-to-day conversations. Sought out Spanish-speaking babysitters. Made up our own songs. (Te quiero tanto, Cuando compartimos)

10 And one last slide… Currently both Spanish dominant, plus “French toast” for Gabriela SABBATICAL IN PERU, AUG MAY 2013

11 Myth or Reality? Bilingual children begin to speak later than monolinguals. Bilingual children are behind in their language skills when they enter school and, although they’ll improve, they’ll never catch up. Young children acquire language without a problem. They just soak it up. As a non-native speaker, I’ll pass on my non-native accent and errors with my children.

12 Myth or Reality? After a month of your child refusing to speak with you in the minority language, the student is no longer benefiting from your efforts. Bilingual children mix their two languages out of confusion.

13 Bilingual children begin to speak later than monolinguals.
No scientific research that supports the idea of language delay.

14 Bilingual children will never catch up in school.
They may start out with less of the community language, but they tend to have faster growth curves than monolingual classmates. Also, a child can learn languages well beyond age 5.

15 Young children acquire language without a problem.
True that at this age language is caught, not taught and that they pick up accurate pronunciation quickly. However, we can’t underestimate their need of a variety of quality input and opportunities to have two-way communication. Nor can we expect them to understand and produce ‘perfect’ language from the beginning.

16 I’ll pass on my non-native accent and errors with my children.
This could potentially happen but only if you were the only source of the minority language your child hears.

17 Your child no longer benefits from your efforts after s/he refuses to uses minority language.
No matter the cause, the literature says to continue speaking to them in the target language because they continue to store this language. Passive bilingualism can convert to active bilingualism when the need arises. Child may refuse due to emotional or developmental reason or because doesn’t see the value of learning the language.

18 Bilingual children mix their two languages out of confusion.
Language mixing is an expected step when one learns multiple languages. These children are pragmatic in conveying meaning, demonstrating cognitive, linguistic and social aptitudes, knowing it’ll ‘work’ with other bilinguals. May do it for a variety of valid reasons. (parents do it, to elevate status, to share a secret or as symbol of bilingual pride.

19 Language mixing “It is important to view within- and between-language mechanisms (overgeneralizations, simplifications, interferences, and so on) as strategies employed by children in their effort to use their weaker language.” (Grosjean, 193). “Each language modifies the other, crossbreeds with it, fertilizes it. Like everybody, I am the sum of my languages.” Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation

20 Language mixing Code-switching: alternate use of 2 languages Interferences/ Borrowing: Integrating one language into another’s system Wir muessen die Kinder convencieren. I have three. Three dogs? No. (I am three.) Carp for tent/carpa, traps for washclothes/trapos I can go to your house? I can’t go why I’ll be in Wausau. (why and because)

21 Why start before birth? Children can pick up sounds even BEFORE birth from both the mother AND the father. Language is so intertwined with identity that I find it awkward and artificial to change a relationship that started in one language to another. Deliberate choice to start relationships in Spanish.

22 A Plan: Pleasure and Purpose
It’s doable, fascinating and we are trained!! The Natural Approach Flooding of input Low anxiety Allow for silent period Enjoyable and in-context… pleasure and purpose… although ok to teach vocab families like colors/ days of week, most input should be in context (as when we read a book or when we communicate in a conversation)

23 A Plan: Pleasure and Purpose
Deliberate exposure to variety of language materials Books Music Nursery rhymes DVDs, TV shows… but don’t over rely on this passive medium domains and speakers Language Camps Cultural Fests/ speakers Babysitters Friends/ playgroups Daycare/ horseback riding/ cooking

24 To ponder while planning
What language will you speak in the presence of English speakers? Think car-pooling, playdates, cheering at soccer games. How will you nurture the minority language once school starts? Perhaps need to ‘up’ the need/value. For us, its meant… Buying Star Wars readers in Spanish Going to Peruvian picnics Concerted effort to get together with Spanish-speaking friends Trips … In an immersion experience, a passive language often becomes active (Naomi)

25 More pondering How do you plan to move from bilingualism to biliteracy? And beyond just language, biculturalism… That’s my French side. That’s my American side.

26 Factors for Success Amount/ quality of input
Maintaining consistency with language “boundaries” Availability to print materials Access to the language outside the home “Need” for the minority language (to speak to relatives or caretakers, to watch TV, to travel, etc.) Continuous encouragement for the child’s langrage ego. Attitudes toward the language and culture and bilingualism … Children pick up on perceived status and prestige of language

27 Additive/ Subtractive Bilingualism
Additive: When you are learning a new language when you already know the dominant (prestigious) language. Subtractive: When someone is expected to learn a second majority language to the point that it becomes stronger than or, perhaps even, replace the first.

28 Final thoughts 1. We as language teachers have tools to do it! We believe in bilingualism and all of its benefits. Why not give the lifelong gift of another language? The most difficult language you'll ever learn is your second one. So why not skip that altogether, and learn two languages from the start?

29 Final thoughts 2. We, as language teachers, need to encourage and celebrate other families that have made the commitment because there are times when doubts set in, especially those who may be experiencing subtractive bilingualism. Be the VOICE OF SUPPORT and ADVOCACY.

30 Final, final thought 3. Instill pride in your bilingual students (stroke language ego) & promote idea that not only is bilingualism the way of most of the world, but it’s cool! Sofia, 8 year old from Milwaukee, raised in German at home: “(Being able to speak German) makes me feel happy! … to be special! I’m the only one in my school that can speak German.

31 Resources

32 More resources Above resources from Jan. 2012 edition of The
Language Educator. p. 52 Baker, C. (2007). A Parents’ and teachers’ guide to bilingualism, 3rd ed. Multilingual Matters: Clevedon, England. Grosjean, F. (2010). Bilingual: Life and reality. Harvard University Press: Cambridge. Steiner, N. (2009) 7 steps to raising a bilingual child. AMOCAM: New York. (Offers step by step worksheets for creating a Bilingual Action Plan.) Podcasts such as Bilingual Smart, go to iTunes and type in Bilingual Families Google chats

33 Access this at

Download ppt "Want to Raise Your Children Bilingually? Start Before They Are Born!"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google