The importance of reading up on bilingual education

Now, do not be mistaken, this post is certainly not designed to attract more followers! 😉 It is inspired by one of my biggest mistakes, which I was reminded of last week, as I listened to my girls playing together in their minority languages (mls).

As you might have read in “Our Story”, we began this journey opting for the One-Person-One-Language without any prior reading.  Having myself been raised trilingual as a kid, this bilingual education business seemed pretty natural and uncomplicated.  In the long-run, it turned out quite the opposite with our eldest resisting the minority languages.  Though we have managed to turn things around and save our bilingual journey so far, there still are some “sequels”.  My eldest still has a little Majority Language (ML) accent in all her mls, which her little sister does not have since we switched to ml@home and banned the ML when she was a newborn.  We have taken too long to react and find the strategy that fitted our circumstances.  Had I bothered to read more when expecting my eldest, it might have spared us a lot of mistakes and heartache.

Whilst before the topic of bilingual education did not interest me because it felt (arrogantly) like something innate to bilinguals, I have now become quite the opposite and love reading on the topic.

From reading on the topic I have drawn a lot of benefits, which might help you to jump in and try it yourself:

  1. Knowledge of bilingualism from a scientific point of view– Specialised press,  articles/blog posts by experts, and books helps us understand bilingualism from a deeper standpoint.  Knowing about code-switching, for example, can help us not fall into the trap of myths that bilingualism causes speech delay and confusion. Hence we can keep cooler when we witness it because we know exactly what it is and that there is nothing to fear, and that in fact it is quite normal.
  2.  Experience from other parents on their bilingual journey– can often be found in the shape of blogs or even books.  Bilingual education is about trial and error and being creative to overcome the bumps on the road.  Therefore, reading about others’ experience can guide us in our own process.
  3. Practical tips– These can be found in many places, from blogs, some books, Facebook or Whatsapp groups, but the best place in the world –in my humble opinion – is the Bilingual Zoo.  Parents share their queries, worries, experiences and tips in a kind and supportive atmosphere. The forum format provides the opportunity to explain to a certain degree of details which you cannot read so comfortably in a Facebook or chat bubble.
  4. Support– This can be found from forums such as the Bilingual Zoo, Facebook or Whatsapp groups.  Support is so important in times of doubt.  Bilingual parents often feel lonely; hence such support from peers is ever so valuable.  You can even end up developing a network of friendly bilingual parents and supporters.
  5. Educational recommendations – Useful resources recommendations can be obtained from bilingual parenting bloggers, education bloggers and members of forums or social media groups dedicated to bilingual education.
  6. Inspiration – And this is a factor that should not be overlooked.  Reading about other bilingual families’ journey can provide us with inspiration at times when we are short of ideas and feel stuck in a pothole on our journey.
  7. Motivation –When we are low after a long day’s work and witness the bumps on our bilingual journey as soon as we hit home, it is sometimes difficult to stay motivated.  Reading about other successful stories and inspirational ideas can really help.  Bloggers are approachable and will usually be happy to be contacted for support and advice.

So if you had not expected as much from a good bilingual education read, think twice and jump in! 😉 And in any case, the bilingual journey is a rough ride; so a little preparatory reading cannot do any harm to be informed and ready for what’s coming up on this incredible adventure. 🙂

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