Monolingual parents and bilingual children

Monolingual parents & bilingual children | Trilingual Mama

Hello! Welcome to the June 2014 edition of the Multilingual Blogging Carnival! Monolingual parents often wonder "I don't speak a foreign language, can I still raise bilingual children?" or "I'm not a native speaker, is that okay?" In an effort to address those concerns, I had a sudden flash of inspiration several months ago and I just knew I had to coordinate a blogging carnival around this theme. I've looked forward to it for several months, eager to see what articles would be submitted and by whom. I have not been disappointed! Not only did I receive a healthy number of submissions, but they came from a wide array of parents in different situations: multilngual parents with personal experience and some with an bilingual academic/professional background, AND non-native parents. I've also included the following resources:

Whatever your reason for stopping by today, I hope you’ll take the time to visit articles of interest and engage in this growing conversation of an ever-increasingly multilingual world! Enjoy!

Monolingual parents and bilingual children | Trilingual Mama

Ute Limacher-Riebold, language trainer and coach for internationally living families with a PhD in French literature and a Master in Bilingualism, was technical in her approach and defined and made a distinction between monolinguals and bilinguals. She also diagrammed and expounded on 3 different strategies that parents can use to raise bilingual children in Monolingual parents and bilingual children? Ute is unequivocal in her stance: can monolingual parents raise bilingual children? Yes, they can!

At the Creative World of Varya you will find 100 ways to encourage foreign language learning whether you speak the language you would like to introduce, or not. Varya is very encouraging and insists that yes, it can be done!

…all you need is your desire to start. And patience. It will be a world of discoveries for you and your child.

Monolingual parents and bilingual children | Trilingual Mama

In Introducing a Second Language to Your Toddler… Even if You Aren’t Bilingual Julie of Open Wide the World shares how illustrated placemats helped her 18 month old daughter get started on her journey to bilingualism even though she does not speak her second language fluently. Her method is simple, playful and easy enough for just about anyone to put into practice.

Olga Mecking’s Polish parents managed to teach her German by speaking it to her only on Sundays! Olga speaks near-perfect German today, lives in the Netherlands and is raising her own children trilingual (Polish, Dutch and German). She ironically muses, “Is My Own Multilingualism A Threat To My Children’s Minority Language?” when in reality she knows that she is very blessed to come from a family with a long-term tradition of multilingualism and that it’s a way of life that she joyfully has adopted for her own family and children.

Monolingual parents and bilingual children | Trilingual Mama

Frances of Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes shared a truly inspirational interview A Monolingual Parent Interview on Raising a Bilingual Child revealing to us Kami Fletcher’s journey to raise her children bilingual (English-Spanish) although she is not a native speaker herself. In this interview Kami not only shares her story, but some of the obstacles they faced and how they overcame them. Her advice to other monolingual parents?

You must be dedicated to this! You must find ways to immerse your children in Spanish or the chosen language daily! It is a lifestyle change.

Monolingual parents and bilingual children | Trilingual Mama

Intentional Mama, Michele Cherie, is a non-native French speaker raising her children in French. She tells us 5 ways her non-French speaking husband  shows his support for their bilingual family in  Daddy Doesn’t Speak French: How He (Still) Supports Our Bilingual Children. Amazing. And cute!

Monolingual parents and bilingual children | Trilingual MamaSpanish Mama, is another non-native speaker raising her children in Spanish/English. Elisabeth shares her new-found wisdom in HOW BOOKS HAVE BEEN A LIFESAVER FOR THIS NON-NATIVE MAMA, outlining 4 great benefits she reaps when she reads to her child.

caca, communication, conundrum is just the way Sarah of Bringing up Baby Bilingual explores the challenges of raising her children in her non-native French. She paints a vivid picture of being lost in translation many times as a young mother and poses poignant questions about how their uncertain bilingual future will unfold in spite of her bold determination thus far. Her story is honest, funny and touching.

This challenge gift [non-native bilingual parenting] also means that my children and I share an intimacy, a linguistic complicity, that they don’t have with anyone else.  It’s special and precious (and it reinforces that old saying that French is the language of love!).

Lynn Baldwin is yet another non-native Spanish speaker raising her son in Spanish and English. As her son prepares to finish his Spanish-English bilingual preschool experience and enter an all-English elementary school in the fall, she wonders how she will keep with raising her son bilingual and shares with us 4 goals she has set for herself and her son on their non-native bilingual journey. See: Non-Native Bilingualism on Open Hearts, Open Minds.

Monolingual parents and bilingual children | Trilingual Mama Audrey of Bilingüebabies was raised by Caribbean and non-Spanish-speaking South Americans with Spanish music and some culture and later learned a university degree in Spanish and spent years living and working in Spain. She has three sons she is raising bilingual. In her article, Bilingualism and Monolingualism (how a monolingual parent can bilingualise their child), she shares a brief summary of their journey as well as helpful tips.

Eowyn Crisfield, educational consultant shared two articles from her blog On raising bilingual children. In the first article, she addresses the challenges of Being Bilingual in a Monolingual World. In the second, she develops 4 questions that monolingual parents might ask themselves when considering whether or not raising bilingual children is the best choice for their family. See: “I’m not a native speaker – is that okay?” 

Monolingual parents and bilingual children | Trilingual MamaJonathan Ervine of Dad’s the Way I like it, is from Scotland, living in Wales and raising his young son in Welsh and English. You can read all about it in :Being a Bilingual Parent. You can also listen to his experiences in a podcast at Bilingual Kids Rock: A Father’s View on Language Acquisition and Bilingual Parenting.

Here on my own blog Trilingual Mama, I’ve chosen to submit two articles that were inspired by questions from a non-native parent as he prepared for the arrival of his baby and made plans to raise her in English and Spanish. In Q&A: Agustin & Maggie of Argentina prepare to raise their daughter in a language not their own, Agustin prepared a list of questions for me and I did my best to answer them (!) and in Free online books for kids in multiple languages, I’ve compiled a growing list of multimedia and audio books in a vast number of foreign languages, an invaluable resource for parents who struggle to find books for children in the chosen language.

Are you a monolingual or non-native parent raising bilingual children? Tell us your story by leaving a comment below. And if you'd like to learn more about the Multilingual Blogging Carnival, go here: Raising Multilingual Children Blogging Carnival.

18 Responses

  1. Thanks for all the great links!
    I have a funny post about how proud I am as a monolingual parent to be raising a bilingual child. It’s here if you’d like a read…

    • Maria says:

      Hi Canadian Expat Mom! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for leaving a comment. Your bilingual daughter story is adorable! I would be proud too! 😉 Bisous, Maria

  2. Thank you so much for hosting! This is a wonderful list of references for both monolingual, and bilingual/multilingual parents!

    • Maria says:

      You’re welcome. I hope you’re getting some traffic! My stats show your article as one of the favorites! 😉 Thanks again for participating!

  3. Great collection of articles, Maria!

    • Maria says:

      Thanks Olena! Now you know where to send inquiring monolingual/non-native speaker parents with all their bilingualism questions 😉

  4. Marcella says:

    Wow thanks for all of these great links! I have a son who is 22 months and I always have known I wanted him to be bilingual but I started to feel very discouraged, all of these links are very motivating.

    • Maria says:

      You’re very welcome. This was exactly what I hoped would happen for families who were perhaps a little lost or discouraged. Best of luck to you!

  5. Marcella says:

    Thanks so much for all of this very useful information. I was beginning to feel like I may be making a mistake and now I feel re-energized to raise my son to be bilingual!

  6. Maria, muchismas gracias and merci beaucoup for hosting the carnival!

  7. Renata says:

    I run a Facebook group about raising bilingual/multilingual children in monolingual families, where I shared this great article.
    We are mostly Italian families trying to teach English (and Spanish as far as I’m concerned), but there are members from all around the world.
    Feel free to join it

  8. Hi, just a recommendation of a Spanish/English children’s book, aimed at primary school children:

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