Raising a bilingual child in a country where bilingualism isn’t a given can be expensive. When you don’t speak a second language, can’t afford private immersion school and tutors are too pricey as are the fancy language classes in your community, then what options do you have left? Here are six out-of-the-box ideas for helping you raise a bilingual child on a budget.
1. Find a high school student in your community for lower cost babysitting. (I am doing that this summer to supplement our kids’ Spanish. And you know what? My kids adore her because she’s young and fun! And I love having a high school student around.)
2. Look around your community. The best advertised opportunities are the pricier ones but often times churches, mosques, temples and community centers that cater to the population who speak your target language may offer low cost language classes. Think Korean church, Arab Cultural Center and Latino Community Center.
3. Trade: Find someone who will come play with your child in their language for a skill you have. Everyone has a skill, even stuff you might not necessarily think of as a skill because it comes so naturally to you. Make it regular—at least one to two times per week.
4. Surround your child with media in the target language, even if you don’t speak it. This includes music, movies and audio books. Make sure if your child wants to watch anything at all, it is in your target language. It’s better to start this young, before they can protest, so it becomes normal. And don’t forget to check your local library to see what resources you can check out for free there!
5. Move to a school district that has a public immersion program. You did that already and didn’t get in? That sucks, I know how you feel.
6. Think far outside the box. Many people decide they can’t afford to live abroad but it’s often more affordable than you imagine . Check out how this mom moved her family abroad on less than $1000. Need more inspiration? Check out this awesome mama of four who moved her family to Mexico.
Granted, none of these things alone will make your child a perfect bilingual (except for the living abroad tip), but they will all help with solid exposure and will set a firm foundation that you and your child can easily build on.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.