Pin It
Friday, June 3rd, 2011

The 10 Best Things About Going Bilingual

By

The 10 best things about going bilingual with your children:

 

1. When people ask my kids where they’re from (a pretty common question for anyone with brown skin tone), they say France! (Sadly, neither me nor their Papa have any direct connection to France, I just happen to have studied the language and decided to pass it on.)

 

2. Seeing my children chattering away with their French buddies—friends they would have never made if they only spoke English. Also, we are planning a trip to visit some of those friends this summer.

 

3. They’ve picked up loads of super-cute French sayings, like my son yelling “Tchac!” when playing the French equivalent of ‘Bash.’ Schmoo acting like a French tween with phrases like “Ben, oui, hein?!” (something like, ‘Well, of course, duh!’)

 

4. All the new words Schmoo’s taught me. She keeps coming home from school with new vocab, then there are all the words we learn together doing her homework (I always keep my iPhone with its WordReference app handy). In fact, I am improving and keeping up my French altogether. At first I was mainly learning child-centric words, like ‘le pot’ (potty) and ‘le doudou’ (comforter), but now the books I read with Schmoo are far more grown-up, about the level of Roald Dahl stories. And because of the need to keep up, I make more of an effort to read books in French myself, listen to French radio and talk in French with the francophone mums at the school gate (even though most of them are fluent in English). I’m sure that if I hadn’t gone the bilingual route, my French would be desperately rusty by now.

 

5. Feeling less self-conscious when telling the kids off in the supermarket! Knowing that most people around can’t understand your threats and/or bribes really takes the edge off feeling judged when the little ones misbehave. Promising a kingsize chocolate bar if they get up off the floor NOW?! Don’t worry, no one’s going to frown and shake their head in disgust at the bad mummy who can’t control her children without a massive bribe

 

6. The children being able to read wonderful classic stories like Tintin and Le Petit Prince in the original. Some things do get lost in translation

 

7. Discovering and celebrating twice as many festivals. In addition to all the English ones, we now have La Galette des Rois (Epiphany, where a ‘King’ is chosen by discovering a token in a cake) in January, le 14 juillet (Bastille Day) in July and a second Mother’s Day in May!

 

8. Recent research (The New York Times, “The Bilingual Advantage,” 30 May 2011) has uncovered new pluses of bilingualism, e.g., bilinguals get Alzheimer’s later in life than monolinguals and are better at discounting useless information when trying to solve a problem. All great news (and something to remember in sticky moments).

 

9. My children code-switching (i.e. switching from one language to another in the same conversation, sometimes in the same sentence)—this is generally considered a bit of a no-no as surely, people say, it’s confusing to them and the person they’re talking to?! But my children are used to talking to bilinguals—most of their friends and teachers speak both English and French, so it’s fine to slip a French word into an English sentence or vice versa. And they’re definitely not confused because they take care not to code-switch when chatting with monolinguals. For me, it just sums up how very bilingual they are, and that can only be a good thing!

 

10. Knowing they’ll have so many choices later on—they can choose between A levels or the Baccalaureat, go to a French university, get a job that requires French or even choose to live and work in France. Of course they may never use their French again upon leaving school, but I love that they have those options!

© 2011 – 2013, Omma Velada. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


Ramadan Star and Moon Craft

A craft recycled from your kid's art work!

A Different World: No Longer Brown in White America

Is it racist to not want to raise your kids in white America?

How I Made My Forgotten Native Language My Child’s Strongest

I started off by speaking dodgy Cantonese. No word for remote control? No problem! ‘Pressy thingy.’

Primary School Privilege

Time outs due to whistling versus school's out due to poverty

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Omma and her husband are raising their two children, Schmoo and Pan-Pan, trilingually in the UK with English (native), Twi (late start) and French (non-native). She blogs on raising trilingual children at bilingualbabes.blogspot.co.uk

Leave us a comment!









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
Unfortunately, the school and community are no longer there. The farm is being sold and there are tentative plans for a new iteration to be set up in Costa Ric...
From How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000
HI! I love your website! Just read your review of books that teach about culture and food! I can't wait to try some of the recipes you've share...
From Armenian Recipe: Apricot Tart
Please, refrain from using "western /western society" for anglosaxon countries. Western can be Mexico and Spain as well, anything on the west side of the world is western ...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
We've tried to make use of, but It doesn't works by any mean...
From African Parenting: The Sane Way to Raise Children
I'm back. Sorry, I stopped caring for this magazine for a while and forgot to discuss the meat of the matter. This article, as well as the linked article from 2011, fails to discuss cultural norms ...
From What Confused Me Most about Brits
Fascinating. I have been to Germany and met this guy who was soo rude! This article explains everything!! Since all Germans are so terribly rude it should come as no surprise that I should have met ...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
@ Josep. How could you possibly comment on how Germans treat people if you have never even been there? A three-day stay in Berlin and a one day stop-over in Frankfurt was enough for me to see the ut...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
I am trying to find a Sikh triangular Nishan Sahib flag and haven't found one. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag
I have tried to buy a Sikh triagular Nishan Sahib flag and had no luck. Do you know where I can find on...
From Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag

More Raising Bilingual Children