What if I am monolingual?


Many parents may be aware about the advantages of raising a child with more than one language, but what happens if parents are monolingual and they live in the country where the language is spoken? To put it simple, what if I am Turkish (or American or Italian) and I leave in my home country with little or no contact with other languages? What if I can speak little or no foreign language? Can I still raise my child bilingual; is it the only possibility to send my child to one of those expensive foreign language medium schools?

Experts like the neurolinguist Franco Fabbro suggest that 5-10 hours per week of exposure to a foreign language it is enough for a child to raise bilingual. Therefore, monolingual parents can raise their children bilingual in a sustainable way just asking a little bit of help from their environment.

1.Ask your foreign neighbor to speak in her/his native language to your child, one hour per day, in exchange you can cook or babysit her/his children,

2. Try to find a foreign baby sitter and ask her to speak to the child in her native language: Do not forget that no language is better than others, if your goal is to raise your child bilingual so that she can enjoy all the benefits. Cognitive neuroscientist Laura Ann Petitto suggested that children raised bilingually display a better ability in learning languages later in life. start from a language that it is sustainable for you and your family because raising your child bilingual is not a matter of days of weeks it is a process that will involve the all family for many years.

3. Organize playgroups and playdate in a foreign language under the supervision of an expert.

4. Break the ice and learn a new language as a family; in this case, there are many options available and a lot of support from books and self-learning material.

If you are a monolingual family and you cannot take advantage of a bilingual school or a foreign language medium school, you have to be realistic on your expectation: the more exposure to the target language you will give to your child, the better result you will get.

In the next post of this section, I will mention some strategy that parents can adopt to help their child to learn a target language.


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