Tricks for speaking a second language at home with your child

1396951232_bubblesDo you speak a second language at home with your children, but there are no parameters around when it is spoken and as a result the kids don’t speak it? I have had multiple requests from nervous  parents worried that their children will never speak their native language with them. It can get complicated when life gets busy or when one parent does not speak that language. The default always becomes English and then the child never truly becomes fluent because English is there as a handy little default language.

Because of the nature of my website, I also get a lot of suggestions about how many families have set specific parameters around when/how they speak the language that I want to share with you.


Family Tricks That Work:

Family A’s Situation: The mom speaks Mandarin and Cantonese and the dad speaks Spanish.

Their solution: Mom speaks Mandarin in the morning, Cantonese after lunch, English during dinner so that they can have a conversation together and Spanish after dinner with Daddy!

Family B’s Situation: The mom speaks French and Spanish.

Their solution: In the kitchen everyone speaks French. In every other room in the house, they speak Spanish.

Family C’s Situation: The parents don’t speak any second language, but want their children to learn Mandarin.

Their Solution: They hire a babysitter who only speaks to the children in Mandarin and never allows English to be spoken with her even though she can speak perfect English

Family D’s Situation: The parents speak German, but not as fluently as they would like and are nervous about teaching their children incorrectly.

Their Solution: Everyone speaks German when they visit the grandparents (which is often — once a week) and the parents struggle a little, but improve their language skills!

Family E’s Situation: The mom speaks Mandarin, but dad only speaks English and does not like getting left out of the conversation.

Their solution: Cartime after school with mom is always in Mandarin. All other times are in English.

Perhaps one of these tips can work for your family! If you have another solution that works for your family (maybe you can be Family F? :), please email me or post on our Facebook page and let me know. I’d love to hear about your ideas!

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Filed Under: Chinese, Cultural Experiences

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