Korean + English = Konglish Baby

Before baby comes...
...learning Korean and researching Korean-language resources in order to raise baby as a bilingual.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Raising Bilingual Children

Recently, Ohdeedoh (a much-loved site about all things kids) posted 5 "easy" ways in fostering bilingualism in your baby.

I thought I should take stock of how "easy" these would be for our family:

1. One Language Per Parent: This technique works well if you are already bilingual or trilingual. You make a house rule out of it. Your child will have to speak a different language to each parent.

Husband and I are both semi-trilingual.  I speak English very well, and Korean/Spanish not so well.  Husband speaks English and Cantonese/Spanish.  However, as beloved as his home language of Cantonese is...it's not as universal as Mandarin.  He hasn't taken any formal training in Mandarin, but finds the similarities of the 2 comforting.  We decided that I would be responsible for teaching Korean and Spanish.  Husband would speak English and Mandarin.  But we've got a lot of learning to do to make that happen.

2. One Language Per Room or Per Floor: When you use this learning tip, make it a house rule that in one room, everyone must speak the same language while in another room, they must change it. Keep the languages the same for a determined period of time, 4 to 12 months.
I think whatever the set-up, speaking in a second (non-dominant) language takes practice, commitment and consistency.
3. Movies & Media: It's easy to stock up on movies and DVDs that will allow your child to develop another language. Most DVDs now come with a few different language tracks, which will allow you child to watch a movie in another language.  
 Korean movies, TV shows, music, and educational programming is probably the easiest effort.  Kids love screen time on the computer, TV or iphone and ipad....and maybe even videogames.  So, all screen time could possibly be language time!

4. Classes & Tutors: Finding a tutor or introductory classes can also be an option for some children. Classes that include a lot of games (flash-card based) and some media will make learning another language a lot easier than just sitting on a chair for a whole hour.  
The same Korean School that I went to when I was in elementary school is still running in my parent's city 30 minutes away.  I hated Korean School!  Would I do that to my child?  I guess so, if I want my child to learn Korean.  Since we live in a highly-Korean populated area, I'll also look into Korean pre-schools or daycares.
5. Immersion: There's no replacement for full immersion. This can be done in a school in your city or if you move to another country.
By the time our child(ren) are of school age, I hope an immersion program in Korean or Spanish will be available near us.  I have heard they are trying to implement a Korean immersion program in the school district I grew up in.

I hope my internet search will yield more tools and research of things that we can do in the home on a daily basis.

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