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Top 10 Tips for Raising Bilingual/ Trilingual/ Multilingual Kids in 2024

Updated: Feb 1




Hello everyone! I hope you’ve all got off to a great start in 2024

 

In this new video/ blog post, I want to give you my top 10 tips for raising a bilingual, trilingual or multilingual child in 2024.

 

Are you ready to kick start your multilingual parenting journey this year, or level up from where you are now?

 

Keep reading or check out the video!


Table of Contents

 

Tip Number 1: Start Early

 

This tip is especially relevant to those of you who are expecting a child (and big congratulations to all parents-to-be!) or if you have a very young child – again, big congrats to all new parents out there!

 

In another video, I’ve discussed when’s the best time to introduce your child to a new language.




 

As I explained in that video, babies begin to absorb language when they’re still in their mummy’s womb. So, if you’re pregnant and you want your child to be bilingual, start talking to them in the target language now

 

But if your child is already a bit older, do not despair – while it’s best to start as early as possible, it’s never too late to start. Start talking to your child in your target language today. Take that first step today. I have lots of resources on this website to help get you started. You can also check out my book Bilingual and Trilingual Parenting 101 for tons of tips and advice that will help get you going!

 

Tip number 2: Be (More) Consistent

 

One thing I talk about again and again both on this channel and in my book is the utter importance of consistency. So, if you’ve been on this journey for a while, I want you to do one thing in 2024: be more consistent. Aim to speak to your child in the target language most of the time – unless you’re using the Time and Place strategy, where you split your time between two or more languages – more on that in another video about choosing a language strategy. In fact, even if you’re using the Time and Place strategy, you should still make sure you’re consistent in terms of where and when you use a particular language.




 

I guarantee you that this is the key to successfully raising a bilingual or trilingual child. Consistency leads to more exposure and less confusion. Your child knows that they have to use a certain language when they’re with you. They know what to expect!

 

Tip Number 3: Use Technology (Wisely)

 

To those of you who’ve watched my other videos, you might know that I’m somewhat on the fence about the use of technology. I’m a huge advocate of traditional learning methods, but it is 2024, and technology is never going away, so we might as well leverage it for our benefit. Check out language-learning apps, educational games, and online resources designed for bilingual children. Interactive and engaging tools can make the language learning process more fun for your child and, therefore, more sustainable.



Language learning apps, educational games and other online resources can be useful for bilingual, trilingual and multilingual families
Language learning apps, educational games and other online resources can be useful for bilingual, trilingual and multilingual families

 

However, here’s a big caveat – you have to use technology “wisely”! Leaving your child with an iPad for hours on end isn’t going to do much good! Moderation is key.

 

Tip number 4: Cultural Exposure

 

Cultural exposure is extremely powerful in bringing a language to life for your child. My kids, for example, love going to Chinatown in London, where they can see Chinese people, Chinese writing, Chinese products and Chinese food literally all around them. My son even ordered some street food in Mandarin, and it gave him a huge sense of achievement.



Family day out in London's Chinatown. Cultural exposure and experiences can greatly enhance language learning for bilingual, trilingual and multilingual children
A Day Out in London's Chinatown - Cultural Exposure Can Be Hugely Beneficial for Raising Bilingual, Trilingual and Multilingual Children

 

So, if you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to start planning at least one cultural experience associated with your target language for your child in 2024. It doesn’t have to be something huge – look out for shops and restaurants run by people who speak the target language. Look out for festivals related to that culture.

 

This can really be a game changer in bringing a language to life for your child!

 

Tip Number 5: Start Building a Community

 

I’ve discussed the importance of having a language community in my book and in my other videos. We humans are social creatures – not only is being part of a community good for our emotional and mental well-being, but it’s also essential for language learning. While you can definitely teach your child the target language yourself, if your child gets to use that language outside of their immediate family, they’ll feel so much more motivated to use it.



Building a Community Can Give Bilingual, Trilingual and Multilingual Families Support and Motivation
Building a Community Can Give Bilingual, Trilingual and Multilingual Families Support and Motivation

So, in 2024, I invite you to start building a community of speakers of your target language. Look out for playgroups, language classes or community events where you can meet other families who speak your language. Both you and your child will benefit hugely from having a support network and a language community.

 

Tip Number 6: Read, Read, Read

 

Reading is just about the single best thing you can do with your child to boost their language skills. In fact, it’s just about the single best thing you can encourage your child to do, full stop! As I discuss in greater detail in my book, reading for pleasure is strongly correlated with academic success and mental well-being. It relieves stress. It helps children expand their vocabulary. It boosts their cognitive skills. In the context of raising a bilingual and trilingual child, reading increases their exposure to the target language and, crucially, helps them acquire more sophisticated vocabulary and sentence structures.



Reading is strongly correlated with successful language acquisition, academic success and mental well-being
Reading is strongly correlated with successful language acquisition, academic success and mental well-being

 

So, in 2024, start reading with your child, or if you’re already reading with them, start reading more! You can start today even if your child’s not born yet! Start reading to the baby growing inside you today in your target language, and be assured that you’re sowing the seeds for future language development. If you have a baby or toddler, read picture books or board books together in the target language.

 

And just a quick reminder here that my sister and I have launched our own series of beautifully illustrated bilingual picture books featuring over 120 everyday words and free MP3 tracks that help you master the pronunciation of every word. It’s available in English & Simplified Chinese, English & Traditional Chinese and English & Japanese right now, but more language combinations are to come.



My Everyday Life, a bilingual picture book featuring over 120 every day words, activities and free MP3 tracks; available in English and Simplified Chinese Mandarin, English and Traditional Chinese Cantonese, English and Japanese
My Everyday Life, a bilingual picture book featuring over 120 every day words, activities and free MP3 tracks

 

Tip Number 7: Start a Reading and Writing Routine

 

Following on from my previous tip, if your child is aged 3 or above, I strongly recommend that you start a reading and writing routine in 2024.

 

Learning multiple languages has numerous cognitive benefits, which are amplified when you learn the respective writing systems as well. My husband and I can say with 100% certainty that having to juggle three very different writing systems – English, with its Latin alphabet; Russian, with its Cyrillic alphabet; and Chinese, with its ideogram-based writing system – has benefited our children immensely in so many areas of their lives.



The English alphabet, the Russian alphabet, and Chinese characters/ ideograms - juggling different writing systems help your child develop their cognitive skills
The English alphabet, the Russian alphabet, and Chinese characters/ ideograms - juggling different writing systems help your child develop their cognitive skills

 

Starting a reading and writing routine in your target language will also undoubtedly increase their vocabulary size and consequently help them become more confident speakers too.

 

I offer a wealth of tips and advice on how to do this in my book – there’s a whole chapter on how to establish an effective and enjoyable literacy routine, so definitely check it out if that interests you.

 

But in this video, I simply want to encourage you to start a short and sweet reading and writing routine in 2024 if you haven’t already done so – start with 10 minutes a day, do it consistently for a few months, and I promise you the benefits will be immense.

 

Tip number 8: Encourage Language Play

 

As much as I advocate the benefits of reading and writing, there’s no doubt that children learn best through play. You have to make language learning fun, or at least make aspects of it more fun, for long-term sustainability.

 

Just to give you some examples from the huge body of research on this topic. According to a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), play has a crucial role in promoting healthy child development. Their report, titled "The Power of Play," highlights how play contributes to cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being in children. Long-term studies, such as those conducted by the National Institute for Play, have explored the lifelong benefits of play. They have found correlations between early play experiences and later success in areas like academic achievement, emotional well-being, and adaptability.

 


Children learn best through play, including languages - play is essential for bilingual, trilingual and multilingual success
Children learn best through play, including languages

Depending on the age of your child, play can take many different forms. For a baby or toddler, you can do something like play hide and seek with their toys, and incorporate language into it. With an older child, you can go on a treasure hunt in the park – basically anything fun can help them improve their language skills as long as they’re done in the target language! The possibilities are literally endless.

 

So, in 2024, I encourage you to incorporate more fun into language learning and, by extension, into your family’s life. Your child will enjoy language learning more and make this whole thing a lot more sustainable in the long run.

 

Tip 9: Travel and Immersion

 

Can you believe it’s been four years since the COVID-19 pandemic first began? Can you remember how we were all locked up in our country for two or even three years?

 


Travel and immersion can greatly enhance your child's language learning experience and cultural exposure
Travel and immersion can greatly enhance your child's language learning experience and cultural exposure

Well, those days are well and truly behind us, and travel is back and here to stay! So, if possible, make 2024 the year you travel to places where your target language is widely spoken. Immersive experiences can significantly enhance language skills and bring a language to life for your child. They can also help expose your child to dialects and accents other than those of their parents, and this can really benefit them in the long run.

 

Tip 10: Mindset Shift

 

Last but not least, I encourage you to change your mindset in 2024.



Changing your mindset can greatly improve your chance of successfully raising a bilingual/ trilingual/ multilingual child
Changing your mindset can greatly improve your chance of successfully raising a bilingual/ trilingual/ multilingual child

 

More specifically, I encourage you to focus on the following mindset shifts:

 

-       Focus on what your child can do, not what they can’t do. Every achievement, every milestone, however minor, is worth celebrating.

 

-       Do not let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do. This is especially true if you’re raising your child to be bilingual as a non-native speaker yourself. You can succeed – do not let anyone tell you otherwise! I have created a mini-series of videos and blog posts specifically on the topic of raising bilingual/ trilingual/ multilingual kids as non-native parents, that may be helpful to you if you fall into this category.

 

-       Start thinking about this whole pursuit as a journey, an adventure. There’s no endpoint; there’s no set-in-stone definition of success – the journey itself is what counts, as cliched as that sounds! If you can enrich your child’s life and help them see the world in a slightly different way by raising them to speak more than one language, you are, by definition, succeeding as a parent.

 

I hope this blog post/ video gave you some inspiration and motivation for 2024. As always, please like, share and subscribe so this website and my YouTube channel can reach and bring value to more people like yourself.

 

Thank you so much, and I wish you and your family all the best in 2024!



 

 

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