Raising bilingual kids can often be hard work to ensure the child is getting enough exposure in the second language. While no parents mean to discourage their kids, make sure their enthusiasm stays on track by avoiding these big mistakes.
1. Correcting them: Children that are corrected too much in their second language will be reluctant to speak out of fear they will say something wrong. Some correction in the form of guidance is okay, but don’t correct every single thing they say wrong.
2. Making fun: I know no one means to maliciously make fun of their own children, but even teasing them about their accent, pronunciation or laughing at cute little things they may say wrong in another language can discourage them. Children respond best to a nurturing environment and will likely clam up if they feel you are poking fun.
3. Quizzing and drills: While tempting to make sure the language is really in their heads and on track, this does not encourage your child to talk. Children need to be engaged not grilled. Follow their interests and leads instead of drilling them in your preset agenda. They love to tell their own stories. Above all, make learning a language fun, not a test!
This information was adapted from a presentation given by Barbara Zurer Pearson, author of Raising a Bilingual Child (Living Language Series)