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Franco dad, Anglo mom: raising a child in both languages

Dad speaks French. Mom speaks English. But what about baby? He or she simply learns to communicate in both languages.

A bilingual baby is not a confused baby

Some parents are reluctant to raise their child in both languages for fear of confusing them. But the reality is quite the opposite!

In fact, according to Céline Alvarez, author of the book Les Lois naturelles de l’enfant, at 9 months of age, babies can hear all sounds in all languages. However, 3 months later, their brain becomes specialized and they only hear the sounds that exist in their language. That’s why it’s a good idea to start talking to your baby in both languages from birth. They won’t understand the meaning of the words, but will be able to differentiate the sounds and languages.

For his part, Dr. Fred Genese, psychology professor at McGill University, has gathered data from several research studies on learning two languages from early childhood. The findings suggest that bilingualism has several benefits for children, including greater creativity and better problem-solving skills. Moreover, it becomes a practical advantage later on when travelling or searching for employment.

Different strengths

Even if you expose your child to French and English equally, they may develop different strengths in each language. For example, they may have a larger vocabulary in French, but construct better sentences in English. That’s perfectly normal!

Does your child use an English word when speaking French? That’s simply because they don’t know the word in the other language, or that it doesn’t come naturally. Don't worry; this happens to bilingual adults as well.

Tips for fostering bilingualism in your child

  • Speak to your child in your mother tongue, as it is the language you know best.
  • Never combine both languages in the same sentence.
  • Promote gentle learning without any pressure: your child learns at their own pace.
  • Encourage your child in their learning process. Resist the temptation to laugh when they mispronounce a word. It could discourage them and even cause them to abandon learning that language.
  • Correct your child delicately. For example, if your child says, "When I were a baby, I drinked milk.” You must avoid retorting, "It’s was and drank.” Instead, use a formula like," Yes, sweetie. When I was a baby, I also drank milk. "
  • Make learning fun: read stories, watch movies or TV shows, listen to music and play board games in both languages.
  • Remember that a bilingual child is a child first, with their own personality, tastes and needs. This means that despite your desire to raise them in both languages, they may prefer one over the other. If this is the case, don't be discouraged. Keep speaking to them in both languages. They will thank you one day!

    In closing, I invite you to discover BiMoo bilingual educational tablecloths, a great way to develop your child’s vocabulary, while protecting your table during meals.