Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.
Growing up in India is certainly something unique, that you only realize once you leave the shores and live abroad. And one of the big advantages in being multi-lingual. I know five Indian languages, and yes they are all pretty different from each other. And this comes naturally as you need to communicate with people of different regions within India itself.
Bill has also written an excellent blog on raising kids bi-culturally.
Here are some of my insights on how you could teach a kid to be bilingual –
Start early –
It is important that you start early with kids. Their brains are like sponge, at a tender age and they can pick up things pretty quickly. As you grow older somehow it becomes more difficult to learn.
Live in a country different from native land –
This is perhaps the best and simplest case of how kids could start learning a new language. For example, if English is the language you speak at home, you could probably live in France, India, Spain where you will be forced to learn the local dialect. This augurs well, you for you and your kids.
Learn a language and speak the same with kids
Now if leaving the country is something too drastic for you, the next best option is to bring the language home. Yes, parent who can fluently speak a foreign language can easily teach the same to kids by conversing the same with kids. At home is where kids learn the most. Talk to them say in English, and in certain days/time in any other foreign language you know well.
Living community neighborhood –
Don’t underestimate that neighbor’s kid who can influence your child’s lingo. United States is blessed with people from different regions of the world. Want your kid to speak in mandarin? Search for a Chinese neighborhood, you may not go wrong.
Finally, tutoring is a good option too. Your child can go to a class to learn different languages. But the only down fall with tutoring is that unless a language is persistently used in everyday life, it becomes more difficult to retain what you have learnt.
Finally, it is a good idea, that kids learn different languages, or grow up multi or bi-lingual. It helps not helps kids to evolve, when they learn a new culture or language, but also helps them imbibe a broader perspective in life.