How to choose the right language school for your bilingual child

episode-144-1

The Question

How do you determine if a dual language program is the right choice for your child?

The answer

I am almost always in favor of enrolling children in language schools because it is usually a great source of exposure!  Being in an academic environment will also create a need to use the target language.  When assessing and selecting a school, these are some good rules of thumb to consider.  Make sure that the school you are consider:

  • Appreciates the value of a second language;
  • Spends 200 hours of instruction in the minority language a year;
  • Incorporates the target language throughout extracurricular activities;
  • Has highly qualified educators ;

The Question

My child’s vocabulary is weaker in the community language despite being in full time daycare. When talking to his peers, he often doesn’t have the words in English to fully express himself. For example he told the neighbors kid, “Dylan, I am corting la grama” instead of “I’m mowing the lawn.” Should I do something to strengthen his English or trust he will pick it up in time?

The answer

Just like our kids need exposure and need to learn the target language, they need these same variables to take place for the community language.  However, I always caution parents to try to do too much in the community language because in most cases, this issue is solved over time and quite organically.

Some ways to make sure that we still provide exposure to the community language without it coming from the parents working in the target language are as follows:

  • Introduce a few words in the community language so that they are able to communicate their needs once they start school;
  • Enroll your child in an extracurricular activity;
  • Participate in story time at your local library;
  • Leverage your children’s friends and peers;
  • Use media to expose your child to more language.

The Question

My child speaks English with a pretty thick Spanish accent. Sometimes I don’t even understand him! My gut tells me that this will resolve in time. Is that true? I want him to have native fluency in both languages.

The answer

This is a common concern for multilingual families but the first thing to keep in mind is that we all have accents!  The multilingual journey may present a lot of obstacles and hurdles.  There are many many things that will make us worry and stress and accents is one that we should place in the “let’s not worry too much about it bucket.”

After the age of 3-4 children become very aware of their peers. In other words, children their own age.  This is another issue that will likely resolve itself.  However, if parents have any concerns regarding their child’s speech development, you can always consult a pediatrician.

I do not think that’s worth looking into in this case but sometimes it can be helpful to rule things out!

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