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Given Canada’s multicultural roots, it’s no surprise so many children are growing up with more than one language under their belts.
Raising a bilingual child isn’t without its challenges, and along the way some common concerns might crop up. Delayed Language: Despite parental fears, speaking two languages to babies won’t cause a clinical or significant delay in language development later on.
Language Confusion: Despite choosing the OPOL approach, we worried whether Chloe would be able to tell the languages apart or know which language to speak with each parent. Vancouver mom Zobeida Slogan spoke in her native Spanish to her daughter Kiana, now four, from birth. When I was going through elementary school, my mom would always have me in a bilingual classroom. I would say teaching your child a second language won’t confuse them unless they have a language disability.
For young children, exposing them to a new language needs to be done in a natural and fun manner with materials that are designed for use with young children. Read a step-by-step book for parents such as Raising a Bilingual Child by Barbara Zurer Pearson (click here to order), or The Bilingual Edge by Kendall King (click here to order).
My elementary school placed a big emphasis on Mexican holidays, especially Cinco de Mayo, which is pictured here. Since the passage of California’s Proposition 227 in 1998, the options for parents [that live in California] who want their children to learn how to read and write in two languages have been somewhat restricted, especially for families who already speak another language and who are learning English. In California, there are a very few International Baccalaureate programs at the elementary school level and one requirement of those programs is that each student takes a foreign language. If the child is placed in a bilingual program, does that inhibit learning and put a child at a disadvantage if they have never had exposure to the language before? The reality is that teachers cannot speak those languages, nor can they learn them, so the instruction in most classrooms is English only.
I do not believe parents need to worry about their child unwittingly being placed in a bilingual classroom—since the passage of Proposition 227, the school places children in bilingual programs only if their parents have so requested it in writing and permission has been granted by the principal.

Parent volunteers are also a big help for working one-on-one with newcomer students, showing them pictures and pronouncing new words for the students in English and being patient with their attempts to speak the language. These days, it seems that a school’s number one focus is standardized testing–does being in a truly bilingual program impact test results?
The test results of each school is listed for all to see, so parents considering enrolling their student in a bilingual program can always refer to the school’s SARC (School Accountability Report Card) that they are required to produce each year, and that is usually posted on their website. That said, bilingual children do display some minor differences in fine grammatical details and it may them a bit more time to perfect proper usage than a monolingual child. But around the age of two, children begin using their languages appropriately with each parent; most of the time your child will speak in French to the French-speaking parent, say, and in English with the English-speaking parent.
But keeping up the routine of teaching a language that her husband doesn’t understand quickly became a challenge. She is thoroughly versed in all aspects of state legislation regarding English Learners and Coordinated Program Monitoring for CDE and has experience with all grade levels–K-12 as well as at the university level. The biggest challenge for everyone, even for teachers, is knowing how to go about making it fun so that children want to learn. Some research indicates a child needs exposure to a language 40 percent of the time to attain this level of competence.
Still, there are some differences between a bilingual child’s language use and growth when compared to that of a monolingual child. By the time she was pregnant with her second daughter, Skylar, now three, Slogan had all but given up.
But when our daughter, Chloe, was born, we realized we weren’t sure of the best approach to take.
Look for ways to make the less-used language part of your child’s life outside your four walls.
For example, your bilingual child might mix two languages together in one sentence or demonstrate a better vocabulary in one language than the other.
In an effort to continue exposing their daughters to Spanish, the Slogans hired a nanny from Peru for the first year of Skylar’s life.

At the time, there were classes where the majority of students were English learners (ESL) with a handful of students, (such as me) that were Spanish learners (SSL).
For example, consider enrolling her in a bilingual daycare or a play group in that language. She will also produce her first words around her first birthday, and will combine words into two- or three-word “sentences” around two years of age. These days, more and more parents want to have their child learn a second language and as a result, we’re seeing the popularity of bilingual programs rise.
Like so many parents before her, Julie’s mother relied on the local primary school to give her child a foundation in English. I wish I had learned English like that when I was a kid.Ana Lucia Garcia Mendes, BrazilWe are both missing you a lot.
I find them very useful and inspiring as much as the teaching e-book you offered me before.Helen (Olena) Khromykhina teaching in China, September 2014I have been using your games and the story book for several weeks now.
Practically every day when we get home from the kindergarten, he asks if we can play games and he means the English games.
He was playing for all animals in turns and his favourite part of the story is the lion's hiccups. This should not stop you from teaching, but make sure people can understand you and that the words are recognizable. She managed to stay concentrated for more than half an hour, which is fantastic for a dyslexic.

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