The reasons behind why I choose to bring up my children bilingual was a bit of a selfish one.
I wanted them to understand all the silly kid songs and jokes from my youth.
I also longed for my children to be able to communicate with my family and my family to be able to communicate with them.
But with that came the desire for my children to be able to understand where I came from, which is a part of who they are as well.
So, what was my experience
It started during my pregnancies. I would get into the habit of speaking English to my babies, which naturally continued after their birth.
I taught them English words like eat, drink, bath, toys and so on. My husband, on the other hand, would speak Dutch to them all the time.
Don’t worry about the kids, they are way smarter than you think. They learn very quickly.
Now in the beginning my children choose to speak Dutch, as they went to playgroup, and I let this be. I would still speak to them in English
Their responses were all in Dutch, but they understood everything I said.
It was only after the age of three that my children were able to split the two languages up.
Now all my children are fluent in both languages.
Let’s break it down
What steps I took to raise bilingual children?
From pregnancy onward I spoke only English with them, I got myself into the habit straight away,
I sang only English songs,
Read only English books,
All our films and T.V programs were in English,
We played games in English,
I never corrected them when they tried to speak English, what I did do was to repeat the sentence back to them in the correct way. They pick up on it all by themselves.
I played, the very annoying to them, “I’m sorry I don’t understand Dutch words, can you tell me again what you want in English” game.
When they started school, English was only spoken in the house and Dutch out of the house
We only speak Dutch in the house when my children had friends over or we had guests, but now that some of my children are a little bigger their friends wish to practice their English with us.
I had them talk to English speaking family members often so they could see that other people spoke English and not just mum. Well, you know, I’m just mum and I’m silly and don’t know anything. According to my kids, anyway.
Make it fun
Make it a part of your life, something easy and routine like.
But most importantly
Be consequent, be consistent, keep at it, keep going and don’t give up.
I now have three children ( 17, 12 and 7) who all speak fluent Dutch and English. It has become an easy part of our lives.
One of my favourite memories was when my oldest got angry at me in English. I was so proud because it showed that they were thinking in English .
Are you bringing up your kids bilingual?
Do you need advice or do you have any tips or tricks that you could share?
Then PLEASE leave a comment below and let us know.
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