Quite a few methodologies have been developed and recommended for raising children bilingual, most however agree on the fact that there isn’t a single methodology that works for every family, rather for each family there is an optimal solution to be found.
Only one rule is universal, kids first! Children should learn by talking and playing with positive and warm people, so they shouldn’t be forced into anything but should go through this experience lighthearted, supported by enthusiam and love, lots’ of love.
Below we are sharing some ideas and techniques, have a look and see what fits best your personal situation.
- One Person One language (OPOL): basically one person will always talk the minority language with the child, in most cases that means that a parent will use his/her native language. It’s one of the most popular techniques, however it should be pointed out that the child to learn effectively needs to hear the language for a substantial amount of time every day (difficult if Daddy is seldom home for instance) but also he needs to hear it from few people and in different circumstances
- Minority Language At Home: the whole family speaks at home the minority language, i.e. for people living in Italy, any language but Italian. This techniques works well in helping learn the minority language, the only drawback can be that the child might be slower than his peers in learning the majority language. This is just a temporary problem, when they start going to school kids bridge the gap easily and fast, yet it could be reason for concern for some parents.
- Create a format that works for your own family. Many families have used techniques that were specific for their needs and circumstances. In these cases the golden rule is to choose one methodology and then stick to it. Some examples could be: have a language for holidays and one for the rest of the year, a language for weekdays and one for weekend, the first who talks chooses the language, a language is used in specific places or circumstances, family organizes every week a dinner say Japanese (to eat and talk Japanese), etc. etc.
When deciding which way to go each family wil have to consider its own resources and limitations, for instance how much time each parent can spend with the children, if there are other people who can talk the minority language with the kids, what’s the language spoken in the country where they live, etc. etc. Many examples and ideas can be found in the books and websites mentioned in the sections Risorse sul Bilinguismo and Libri e Articoli sul Bilinguismo.