We all start out on this language journey with the best intentions.
For some families, things start to feel less than ideal at some point along the way.
You may be working hard at raising your bilingual kids but start realizing that more and more, they are becoming passive bilinguals instead of active bilinguals. In other words, they may understand what you are saying to them in the target language but they are not communicating with you in that language.
If that sounds familiar, you may find this post particularly helpful. If it does not, that’s fantastic, that means your kids are still engaging with you in the target language. But do still take a look at the concepts of this post and think of it as “preventive medicine.”
How did you get here?
The first thing I want you to do to get your kids to get more active with your target language is to reflect on how you got here. I will outline some of the most common reason I see behind passive bilingualism here.
We will also build on the additional elements that you need to implement to get bilingual kids talking in the next two blog posts.
Are you being consistent?
Are you sticking to the target language at all times? In many ways, we are modeling for our kids what it means to be bilingual. You want to make sure that they see YOU actively speaking the target language with them as well.
Take a look at your consistency and see if you are switching between languages when talking to your kids. Make the commitment to be better about sticking to the language.
Are your language abilities limited?
Many parents are raising their children in a non-native language. Some parents feel perfectly comfortable and with enough vocabulary to stick to the target language. Other parents do not and that is perfectly ok!
Any amount of language that we can provide for our kids is a gift. Do not stress about having “limited abilities” in the target language. There are many ways that we can still raise bilingual kids by tapping into resources around us.
The key is to just simply be aware of what we can and cannot provide so we can make up for the remainder elsewhere.
Are our kids pushing boundaries?
Language is just another element of parenting. Your kids may just be pushing to see how much they can get away with in this particular element. Take a look and see if there may underlying issues at play with your child’s language choice.
Your child may be frustrated about something else and may be using language as a default. This may just be their way of letting you know that they are feeling overwhelmed, annoyed, frustrated!
There are other factors that may be coming into play. These are just examples of some of the more common ones. What I want you to do, is to simply try to go through some personal diagnostics. This will help you sort out what is impacting your own family language dynamics.
Now that you have thought through why your child may be more a passive bilingual than an active bilingual, it is time to address it!
The two ingredients we need to put into place are Exposure and Need. Take a look at additional posts on each of these topics so that overtime you can help your passive bilingual kiddos become more active in their language journey.
May you have fun travels on your language journey. Hope to see you again on the Avenue!