As bilingual parents, we often feel assailed by doubts as to whether we are doing this whole bilingual education right. Here are what seem to me unmistakable signs of success. Do note that these do not have to be cumulative criteria nor do they have to happen continually. The mere presence of one or more of these hint to you doing something right! 😉
- Your child using ml vocabulary and idioms heard on telly in context.
- Your child correcting you.
- Perfect minority language (ml) pronunciation.
- Your child requesting ml for screen time.
- Your child spontaneously singing minority language songs.
- When your child uses the minority language with you and refuses using the Majority Language (ML) with you.
- When your child’s ml is stronger than the ML– even though we want their majority language to be good, if the minority language is stronger it does mean you have done something right in getting it there. And you might as well enjoy it whilst it lasts, as the ML usually always ends up being dominant when living in the ML country.
- Your child requesting to learn to read in the ml– though it might sound daunting to any parent who is no language teacher, it is wonderful news as your child shows interest and above all… in future your child will be able to expose themself on their own to the ml thanks to their ability to read ml books!
- Your child requesting to read in the ml.
- When your child picks up on somebody speaking ml on the street and happily exclaims “they speak ml like us!”– or even better, when they strike a conversation in the minority language with that speaker!
- Your child participates with ease in a conversation with native ml speakers– if your child understands and replies when addressed and is understood by people they do not usually talk with, this is definitely a sign of bilingual success.
- The emotion of the ml grandparents at being able to communicate with a grandchild in the minority language– having experienced it ourselves, this is quite an intense and rewarding emotion! 🙂
- When you witness your child’s complicity with their ml grandparents thanks to the shared language.
- When your child connects with other ml kids in the ML country – for instance, in my eldest’s ML school, her handful of ml-speaking classmates are part of a specific international division and benefit from ml classes. Though my eldest has not had the same opportunity of joining that division, her ml classmates identify her as one of them, addressing her in the ml.
- Your child is eager to learn how to say/do in the ml what they learnt at ML school – my youngest is currently obsessed with learning to count up to 100 in her 3 languages (especially her 2 ml ones) because they are learning this at school and one of her friends who is Anglo-French is particularly good at counting up to 100 in the ML.
- When your child is proud of speaking the minority language – This one has been mentioned (in Spanish) by Alex PerDel in his podcast number 235 “El iceberg del bilingüismo (parte 3)” where he shares his own experience in the matter. In his case, his son proudly sought confirmation from him that he had translated something right for a classmate. I also discussed it in “About kids’ acceptance of their bilingual identity” from the identity perspective.
- When your child wants to teach their ml to a friend– This is a clear sign of pride too!
- Your child writing in the ml – never mind if they make mistakes, what is important here is their interest in communicating in your language. The rest will follow.
- Having a routine of ml activities– managing to engage your child in a routine of ml activities might seem like a regular uphill battle, yet this is an incredibly powerful achievement. Experience has shown me that so long as you keep it up, it will take your child a long way on this bilingual adventure.
- When you arrange ml activities and your kids look forward to it or/and asks for more.
For as little these might seem to you, they actually show what is going deep inside your child’s head. They demonstrate how much minority language has been absorbed. Take a step back to have some retrospective: that tiny sign you might have spotted in your child shows all the journey travelled so far…
Can you think of any other sign I might have forgotten? Please share them using the Comment box.