Why do most parents fail to raise a fully bilingual child? The truth is most parents normally have wonderful intentions. They want their child to become fluent in Spanish, to learn French, to become bilingual, or even multilingual. There are MANY misconceptions about how children and (all of us) learn languages. Let us address some of the likely reasons that lead to parents failing to help their children achieve this wondrous goal (so you can learn from their mistakes).
Expecting one program to teach your child a language.
This is certainly more prevalent with parents who are teaching their child a language from scratch. It is easy to be “sold” on just buying one program and having your child speak like a native. This is just not the case. No, not even BookLingual will do this for your child (on its own). It is common to buy a program like Rosetta Stone or something similar and place your bets on this, and this alone. Programs like Rosetta Stone are good, they teach concepts, grammar, vocabulary, and use some well-designed media immersion. But, this program ALONE will not bring a child to become FULLY fluent. Many pieces of the fluency puzzle must be put into place.
Books (reading/literary learning) are quintessential for cognitive understanding. Video/Media are great forms to see and experience how language and culture are intertwined and dynamically used. Lessons/Tutors are necessary to be taught formal grammar rules or get a better holistic view. Finally, Immersion/Native Speaker provides the platform to force the student to speak the language and develop an ear for proper pronunciation.
Thinking your child will just “learn the language” because you know it.
This fact is a tough pill to swallow, but it is so omnipresent. When this occurs, yes, the child does learn the language, but not to his/her FULLEST potential. This instance refers to those who already are fluent in the language they want their child to master. It is quite common for bilingual parents to allow their children to become passive bilinguals. This means that the child can understand everything that they say in this minority language, but can not speak the language fluently.
Passive bilinguals are created when you allow the child to respond in English; even if you asked a question in Spanish (for example). This will create an environment where the child uses English as a crutch, instead of being forced to speak to understand the language. The final level of fluency (reading and writing) is most often overlooked by bilingual parents with good intentions. In most cases, the child will learn to read and write exclusively in English; while being able to speak two languages. By not teaching your child to read and write in the secondary language, they will not be at their highest level of fluency. They will not know how to spell words, write grammatically correct sentences, or absorb great written works in this language.
Why do most parents fail to raise a fully bilingual child? It is quite often in the planning phase. Remember, you can do it with a well-derived plan. With your bilingual action plan in place (which integrates all pieces of the fluency puzzle), your child will be destined for bilingual greatness! Good luck on your journey and remember to add BookLingual to your bilingual action plan.