How to raise a bilingual child?

The problem of bilingual children is acutely felt in another country, where the one language is used at home and another is used in the big wide world.

The son of my friends from the UK, a five-year-old Dany, speaks the purest English and Dutch languages. He goes to a bilingual school and says “apple” when he talks to his parents and “appel” when he is at school.

Studies have shown that in most cases, bilingual children suffer from improper pronunciation or shifted accents, as well as stylistic errors like “taking a bus” rather than “traveling by bus”. They also transfer the stylistic design from one language to another.

By the age of five, speech is cleaned and the problem is not that acute. Bilingual kids in comparison to other kids, do not speak much before this age, but when they start, they speak with whole sentences.

Another friend of mine also has a son, who is almost three, his father is Dutch and his mother is Russian. At home, everyone speaks English. He speaks one language with daddy and another language with mother and grandmother. He associates with people by the language he communicates with, and he falls into a stupor when someone switches to another language.



When you are between the ages of three to five years it’s hard to understand why your aunt who just spoke English with you, is talking in another language to someone else. This is perceived not as information, but as noise.

Some young families believe that learning a second language in the early stages is harmful to the child. Although studies confirm that learning languages at early ages does not affect kids’ development.

Still, there are obvious advantages in raising a bilingual child: it is noticed that already seven-month-old children cope better with prioritization and complex tasks than children who speak only one language. In long-term prospects, the ability to speak several languages delays the development of Alzheimer’s disease.




Victoria Goncharenko, a speech therapist, comments: “Children are very plastic, so there is no problem in learning two languages. The problem is that one language is leading. For example, the child speaks good English and bad Russian. So when he hurries to tell something, he will choose the language that is easier for him. There may be delays in the development of speech, stuttering, and psychological crises, but each situation is individual. “

Therefore, parents should follow the rule: “one parent — one language”, or “one language at home, the second — outside the house”. At the same time, parents should also follow this rule and be fluent in two languages.

It is more difficult to raise a bilingual child in families where the native speaker is only one. Therefore, small countries like Norway and Denmark, have already introduced the study of English from the first year of school: the earlier you start, the sooner you immerse in the process. This will increase the competitiveness and increase the opportunities for professional development in the future.

Denis, the son of my Ukrainian friends, run back from the playground in tears; he does not understand how to play with the other kids. But after two months in the Dutch kindergarten, he happily waves to the teacher and confidently says “tot ziens”, correcting his own mother on her pronunciation of the phrase too.

Therefore, if you decide to educate your child from a young age in bilingual language, make sure that there is everything necessary in place for this to be accomplished; the habitat of the first language, constant replenishment of the vocabulary, the native speaker (if not at home, then at least outside the home), and with much patience and understanding, (because your child will be different,) you may achieve a bilingual home.


Anna Bilenka