Raising a bilingual child is no easy task. It takes consistent action and constant motivation to stay in the game. Sometimes you will be delighted with some words in your target language, other times you might be completely ignored. While I have not encountered the latter in my own bilingual journey, I know of many parents who face this issue and get discouraged by this behaviour. We will get to the strategies to continue speaking the minority language if your child refuses to speak it later. In this post, I want to focus on the power of community.
Human beings are social animals and we all need to belong to a community. Whether you are born into a community and grew up in it or you decide to create your own community based on your beliefs and values or language background. One crucial element of raising a bilingual child is to have a community that shares the same language goals. If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend you to try to find people in your area that speak the minority language you are teaching your child to connect with them. The reason is pretty simple. You want to make sure that your child gets exposed to your language with people other than you. They will realize other people also speak mommy or daddy’s language and see that it is a ‘useful’ language. If possible, try to organize play dates and events regularly so the children can get used to playing with each other and develop a friendship. This will motivate them even more to speak the target language.
Besides play dates and other fun get together, your language community can be extremely helpful to exchange resources with you as well as offering support when you need it.