All big endeavors come with challenges, right? Some you can avoid, and some, you can’t…
Raising a bilingual child is one of these big endeavors and what is already hard can become an even tougher task if important people, in your child’s life, are not on board.
In my case, this was my son’s father. I knew I wanted to teach my son Chinese even before he was born, but his father did not share my enthusiasm. He wasn’t interested in foreign languages, which turned out to cause some significant pushback for several reasons. Let me explain…
He was convinced that his son learning a new language would prevent them from talking to each other. He argued about the costs of what I wanted to do and about the time it would take. He pretty much argued against it on every level. Does this sound familiar for you?
One of these arguments was why our son should learn Chinese instead of learning Spanish since 80% of the kids in our neighborhood spoke Spanish. Spanish would be much more relevant, right? Well, if 80% of the kids around were already speaking Spanish, what competitive advantage would Spanish give our son? NONE!
If you find yourself in a similar predicament, consider your argument carefully! Here are the five biggest objections I found and fought against. Hopefully, my experience will help you prevent and smooth out the process when raising your soon-to-be bilingual child.
Objection #1 – They’re too young
We already beat this dead horse on this blog more times than I can count. My son’s father was no different than a lot of people who argue that a child can be too young to start learning a second language.
Now picture that belief going against me, the one who wanted to start my son in Chinese immersion classes when he was only six-months-old.
The bottom line in this first point is that there is no such thing as too young. The younger, the better when it comes to learning a new language. If you want your child to speak like a native without an accent, it is key to get them started before they’re ten years old.
Objection #2 – It costs too much
There is no question here. Raising a bilingual child can be an expensive endeavor. And yet, there are ways to go around the many expensive options and use several available and cheaper resources to reach the same end point.
You can hire a babysitter who only speaks to your child in the target language; you can use online resources; you can download free apps, and you can keep up with this blog and get heaps of information that can help.
Objection #3 – We don’t have the time
This was one of the biggest points my son’s father brought up. He didn’t want to give up his weekday evenings and Saturday mornings with his son. Unfortunately, those evenings and Saturday mornings are when most of the language classes are, which put me in a tight position.
But, in the end, you have to think about the future of your child. Investing the time now can mean a whole lifetime more of opportunities for your son or daughter.
You can also go around these hurdles by bringing the learning into your home. Activities, like using apps and listening to music can make a difference and can be done anytime.
Objection #4 – They can’t use it right now
Think about that statement. If we took that mindset to learning English, nobody would ever learn to speak our language.
Nobody starts speaking a language right away. If you don’t start the learning process by having the child listen, how will they ever learn?
This goal you and your child are striving to achieve is not an easy one. And, by no means, will it be an overnight process. Learning a new language is a long-term strategy, a long-term commitment. You can’t only concentrate on the now. You have to set your sights far and look at the bigger picture.
Objection #5 – We can’t speak it with them
Now, here is where I ask a question: So what?
Isn’t the whole point of parenthood fighting for your children to have better opportunities than you did?
Raising a bilingual child will take many resources outside of what you can do, especially if you are a monolingual parent, like I am. Don’t look at these difficulties as hurdles waiting to knock you down. Look at them as challenges to overcome, prove to the world that you and your child can do it together.
Don’t let the challenges stop you from raising a bilingual child. And remember that this blog is always here to help!