How do you raise bilingual children? If you want your children to become bilingual, in English and your language you will have to work at it. Relying just on English lessons is not enough to achieve fluency, so you will have to do some work at home too. Here are four things to help your family become bilingual
1. Use English media
In your home make sure there are English books, magazines, TV shows, internet or music easily available, and be sure to encourage your children to use them. Better still, make it part of your routine to read to them in English every day. To get into the habit of using English it has to be easy and accessible - that means don't hide your English materials away on a bookshelf or at the back of a cupboard! Use them and enjoy them. If you want beautiful and high-quality materials do check out The Cultured Kid's English programme, get 7 days free access here.
2. Meet up with other English speakers
Meeting other English speakers is really motivating for everyone. It helps children to know that English is a real, living language, not just a classroom or book thing. It's great to expose your children to people with different accents and different ways to use English so in the future they will be able to understand people all over the world. And it's fun! Check if there's an international families meet up in your area, or why not start one yourself?
3. Speak English together
How inspiring for your children to hear their parents speaking English. In fact, you can be a role model for your children in making English normal and a part of everyday life. For my girls speaking English, even though we live in Japan, is a normal thing. Unlike their friends who are amazed that anyone really speaks English.
4. Have fun
The most important thing to do is have fun with English. Children are built for fun, so use books but remember English is real living language that is best spoken and used. Try to make as many opportunities for using the language as you can, whether that's singing in the bath together or chatting at dinner, cooking in English, or playing games or meeting new people. Use English as your home language and see how your children can thrive with it. If you'd like more ideas for games to play together here's my eBook with 21 ideas to play together.
If you’re a mum and you want to speak English more, you need to join us in Mums’ English Circle. Small group conversation lessons, online, join me and other mums around the world here.
Are you trying to raise bilingual children? Let me know in the comments below!
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I'm Abbie and I'm an English teacher and English event organiser. I've been teaching English for over 15 years. I'm British and I live in Japan with my husband two daughters and a lot of crafting supplies.