Raising Bilingual Babies

There are all kinds of benefits to being bilingual, and parents who speak multiple languages may want to pass that knowledge on to their children. What are the best strategies for doing so? How important is it to start teaching your kids in infancy? And if you’re not bilingual, can you still raise bilingual children?

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Episode Transcript

Natalie Gross 0:07
There are all kinds of benefits to being bilingual and parents who speak multiple languages may want to pass that knowledge on to their children. What are the best strategies for doing so? How important is it to start teaching your kids in infancy? And what if you're not bilingual? Can you still raise bilingual children? We have a linguist and educator along with an experienced panel of parents joining our show today to help answer these questions and more. This is Newbies.

Natalie Gross 0:39
Welcome to Newbies. Newbies is your online on the go support group guiding new mothers through their baby's first year. I'm Natalie Gross, mom to a three year old boy and a new baby girl. We've got a great show today talking about bilingual babies. Now if you haven't already, be sure to visit our website at newmommymedia.com And subscribe to our weekly newsletter. This keeps you updated on all the episodes that we release each week. And another great way to stay updated is to hit that subscribe button in your podcast app. And if you're looking for a way to get even more involved with our show, then you can check out our membership club called Mighty moms. That's where we chat more about the topics discussed here on the show. And it's an easy way to learn about our recordings in advance so that maybe you can join us live. We have a wonderful panel of parents joining us today. Welcome to the show everyone and I would love to get started by having you all introduce yourself. So tell us about you your family's language background and why you decided to raise your children bilingual. Silvia, do you want to kick us off?

Sylvia Cabus 2:05
Thanks, Natalie. My name is Silvia Cabus. We have a nine year old son whose name is Zacky. And he goes to our neighborhood school in southwest DC and we are raising him in French. As an interfaith, interracial couple we want our son to understand that he's part of a bigger world. And raising him with a second language is a cute way to convey that. French is our common language. And it's useful in Africa in Europe, especially with our in laws in France, even though neither of us are native speakers. I was born in the Philippines I raised in California, and I grew up in a Cebuano speaking household. Cebuano is the second most spoken language in the Philippines after Tagalog. I learned French as a Peace Corps volunteer and I worked in Francophone Africa for seven years. My husband is Moroccan and he speaks four languages. He speaks Modern Standard Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, French and Berber, which is his mother tongue. So French is a compromised language for us.

Natalie Gross 3:00
Wow, that's really cool. Michelle, what about you? Hey,

Michelle Hsiao 3:04
I am Michelle Hsiao. I live in Virginia and I am a mom to a three year old toddler named Luke. We have a second baby boy on the way do in spring of 2023. So I was born and raised in the USA in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area. But my background ethnicity is Taiwanese. So I speak Mandarin Chinese and my husband actually speaks five different languages. But his native language is Portuguese. So he actually moved from Portugal to United States about three years ago. But my son is learning only Chinese right now, which is a point of contention between us. But it's super important to me that Luke learns another language and especially Chinese because it connects him and myself to my heritage. And then also I would love for him to be able to speak to my family.

Natalie Gross 3:56
Yeah, that's great.

Nehal Siddiqui 3:58
Hi, this is Nehal Siddiqui. I am mom to two kids. One is eight and one is four. I was originally born in Pakistan, and I grew up speaking Sindhi with my family. Sindhi is one of the languages spoken in Pakistan. The official languages is Urdu so I grew up just learning that from conversations in the community. My husband is also a native Urdu speaker. So when we were deciding what second language to raise our children in Urdu seem like a logical choice because it is the national language of focus on and it also share similarities with Hindi, which is largely spoken by the people of India. So we thought it would be a really useful language for our children to learn. And we also thought it would be a great way to connect them to our culture.

Natalie Gross 4:50
Great. Joone, What about you?

Joone Wang 4:53
Hi, everyone. My name is Joone Wang. I'm a father of a four year old son and a two year old daughter, my wife Julie speaks Korean and English, I myself speak English, Korean, Japanese and Spanish. I grew up in Korea, in the United States and in Costa Rica. I think my wife and I decided on raising them strictly in Korean in our household since they are immersed in English as we live in America. And we thought it was important for them to speak Korean to connect with our family in Korea.

Natalie Gross 5:25
Great. Well, thank you everyone so much for being here. Okay, so if you started teaching your children a second or third language when they were babies, how did you do it?

Michelle Hsiao 5:35
I was really consistent with Luke, I tried, obviously, you know, my husband doesn't speak Chinese. But whenever I spoke with Luke, I would always be Chinese and my mom was around to help. So that was helpful, because we always speak to each other and Chinese as well. But for me, it was about consistency in making sure that I was always talking to him in Chinese, even though it was really hard. And I think that is a problem because not having to have the same language speakers makes it difficult. So obviously, he did pick up a lot of English. And he also has the same problem that we're kind of talking about earlier, of not speaking back to me in Chinese, even though he understands it. But for me, I started when he was a baby and just constantly tried to speak to him whenever I could.

Natalie Gross 6:21
Yeah, we were chatting about that before we pressed record, that's a problem that I have with my son not wanting to speak back in Spanish. So I'm sure others have encountered that as well. And we'll be speaking with our expert about that. Anybody else? What strategies did you use? Or are you using with your kids?

Sylvia Cabus 6:37
We follow minority language at home since both of us speak French, although imperfectly, it's definitely not moviestar French, but we try to maintain constant exposure with the wallpaper of sound, or the French radio or TV on all the time. If he wants to watch Peppa Pig, it's going to be in French. We do our Christmas and Ramadan book adverts in France, we even set Netflix to French. And when my son our son started learning the violin in English, he also learned all the key words in French. So it does take a lot of effort. And I don't know how much of it he has absorbed because he is quite a unreliable narrator when it comes to French and other things. But we have really tried to make an effort. So I hope it will come out, you know, when manifest in some other way that we don't see right now. Sure.

Nehal Siddiqui 7:34
So with both of my kids, we also spoke to them and are though all the time, especially when they were infants when it was easier to communicate simple words and phrases. As babies as they've gotten older, it has become a little bit more challenging to communicate with them and or zoo because as I mentioned before, it's not my native tongue that kind of picked it up. And so when communicating emotions or difficult concepts, we often have to revert to English or mix up the English and or the to accurately convey and communicate what we're trying to say. So I would say as infant in the infancy stage, it was much easier. Listening to what Sylvia said, I'm very jealous that you know, Netflix has an option for French and that you have other means of exposing your children to French, I think that is so great. Unfortunately, I find that there's you know, a few or do shows, but there's not as much variety, especially when the kids get older for programming in a different language. And I speak or do but I can't read it. So I can also read any books to my children in order to either so for us, it's a little bit more limited in how much we can expose them to the language. Now,

Sylvia Cabus 8:48
Thank you for bringing up that point. Even in such a cosmopolitan place such as Washington, DC, there are a lot of limits when it comes to different languages. When we were thinking about teaching our son Arabic, it was very difficult to find resources in Arabic in general, and resources in Arabic that were not related to religion. So I'm really curious if there any other families that have the same experience as us in terms of, you know, just the general difficulty of finding stuff. As you quite rightly said.

Joone Wang 9:23
I can share a little bit as well. So my children are four and two, and we kind of set aside like an hour, maybe two to three times a week, where we just speak in English or we have like English time because my wife and I strictly speaking Korean at home and they they all strictly speak Korean and we're lucky to be attending a Korean speaking church and they go to a Korean school on Saturdays. So right now, they haven't entered school, but when they do, they'll be fully immersed in English so we're just trying to get them used to that and so it's it doesn't come as a surprise so we introduce all of his favorites. You've heard things like fire trucks and spaceships and Legos, all in English during English time so that he has a, like a good memory or a good experience in English.

Natalie Gross 10:12
Joone, you're an ESL teacher, right? So how do you incorporate any of sort of those lessons you've learned from the classroom into teaching your kids those languages?

Joone Wang 10:21
Definitely not too much yet because he is four. But the thing that I kind of take into consideration most right now is for us, to master Korean with him first, because the importance of that first language is very key and learning a second one. And so we just want him to master Korean so that when he gets to learning English, his strategies for learning, the second language will be applicable from what he learned while learning Korean. And so the strategies that I use in school would just be like phonics or vocabulary work where we just have both of the words for firetruck in Korean and English and we'll just display them both. But yeah, nothing too strict yet.

Natalie Gross 11:09
Well, thank you so much for sharing everyone. When we come back, we will be meeting our expert Kaila Diaz. She's going to share some strategies for raising bilingual children including for monolingual parents, so stay with us.

Natalie Gross 11:30
Today on newbies, we're talking about raising bilingual children and how for many parents that starts when their children are babies. Our expert today is Kayla, a linguist and language educator based in Northern Virginia, she is the founder of Bilinguitos, an organization that encourages and equips families who desire to give the gift of bilingualism to their children. They do this through language immersion programs, bilingual play groups and online resources for parents, including the bilingual parenting podcast and dealing with those blog. Kaila, welcome to Newbies, I'm so glad you're here.

Kaila Diaz 12:00
Hello, I am so glad to be here. I'm just like grinning from ear to ear hearing everybody share because this topic is my favorite topic in the world. So I'm very excited to be here.

Natalie Gross 12:10
Awesome. It's quite a passion of mine as well. So I'm excited for to continue this discussion.

Natalie Gross 12:16
So what are the benefits to teaching your kids two or more languages from infancy? Like before they can even talk and exposing them early on?

Kaila Diaz 12:24
Right? That's a great question. Because people might think, well, they're not really speaking yet. So what's the point of adding in other languages, but there's so many different benefits. And it kind of depends on the lens that you're looking through. Or maybe you're looking through multiple lenses. So just to name a couple. And I think that a lot of our parents here on the panel have mentioned this, but for a lot of families, it means something deeply to them in terms of identity or connection with their roots and their heritage. And so in that case, why why not start at the very beginning, if that's just part of your family culture, and the core of who you guys are as a family. So that's one of the big benefits is that it's just really connecting the family with with where they've come from and who they are. Another lens you can look at it through is the idea of just kind of expanding your worldview. And so to give our kids the opportunity, from a very young age to know, hey, it's not just about one language, or one way of doing things or one culture, there are so many different ways to look at the world and language as a way to do that. So that's another lens that you can look through. And then of course the lens of just the fact that bilingualism is very, a very good skill as our kids grow and become young adults and adults, for them to have the opportunity or the ability to speak two languages when they go out into the world and are looking at the job market or applying to colleges. That's just a really great benefit for them as well.

Natalie Gross 13:53
Absolutely. There's a school of thought out there that says bilingualism will confuse kids, especially when they get to school, but there's actually research showing that being bilingual makes kids smarter. So can you explain that?

Kaila Diaz 14:05
Sure. Yeah, that is a big myth. And when I say big, like a very prevalent myth in our society, especially in the United States, where we are more of a monolingual society, whereas the rest of the world, it tends to be a little bit more bilingual or multilingual. But here in the States, we do have this idea floating around that bilingualism will confuse children, or even it might lead to to language delay or speech delay. And let's just like nip that in the bud right now that that's not true. Bilingualism or multilingualism, does not lead to higher rates of language delay or speech delay. And that includes late talking. So bilingualism is not linked to that it does not create a scenario where the child will be more confused or have less language abilities, because they're exposed to two or more languages. And as you mentioned, it's kind of on the flip side, research shows us that actually being bilingual, has cognitive benefits. So in the, in the sense that, for example, memory, they've done different tests with bilingual and monolingual populations. And things like memory, and focus are improved by having multiple languages in your linguistic repertoire. And that all comes from I mean, that's a whole topic of neuro linguistics, but just the fact that the bilingual brain has to be kind of, to put it in layman's terms like juggling more languages at once, it creates almost like more of this mental exercise where your brain is then able to focus a little bit more than a monolingual brain, or remember things a little bit more than a monolingual brain. So all of that to say bilingualism does not cause language delays. You know, it's not to say that a child who is bilingual can't have a language delay, just like a monolingual child. It's mean, there might be a language delay for a child, but it wouldn't be cut because of bilingualism. And on the flip side, we actually see a lot of cognitive benefits to being bilingual.

Natalie Gross 16:06
Now you have a blog post on your website with the 10 most common strategies for raising bilingual children. And you know, our parents have already kind of talked about the strategies they've used at home. So can you walk us through some or all of those in what parents need to know if they want to implement this in their homes?

Kaila Diaz 16:23
Sure, yes, this is one of my favorite topics. So there's 10 that I typically talk about, but I won't like go into depth, depth, I'll just kind of some of them are related. So I'll just kind of mention all of them. And I'll also mention a pro, and a potential obstacle for each of them. Perfect couple of the parents have already mentioned kind of what they do. And that is going to, it's perfect, because it all goes in with this list. And so I'm going to start with the most, let's say intense, and language strategies and go all the way down to kind of the most accessible for all. So I'm going to start with what's called target language front loading. And just a couple of terms before I start target language means the language that you're teaching your child, that's not going to come by default. So we heard a couple parents talk about French and orthu. And those are the languages that are they're having to be really intentional about in the home. So that's what we call the target language. Whereas the majority language is the language spoken by the majority in your area. So for most of us here in the States, that would be English. So target language is the language you're focusing on, and having to be intentional about. And majority language is that that language that will come by default, like English in the States. Okay, so this first one is called target language frontloading. And this is where your the family uses the target, or the heritage language in all of their interactions with each other. And they even intentionally delay the exposure to English during early childhood. So prior to school age, they're just focusing on that target language. And they're not even bringing any English in. So that's what that strategy is about. One Pro is that this can establish a really strong base and that target language, because it's just like four years of just that language. But then a potential obstacle is that parents might worry about what happens when the child goes to school, or some social interactions in those first four years, might be a little tricky to navigate. Now moving down the line, we have another strategy called target language everywhere. And this goes hand in hand with the next one. So I'll combine them. So target language everywhere. And target language at home. I think someone mentioned this already. It's also known as minority language at home and minority language everywhere. So that's a synonym kind of minority language, target language. The I think, who was it? I think it was the French, the French family is the one doing minority language at home that you guys mentioned earlier. So these, this strategy, or these two strategies are where the family uses the target, slash heritage language in all of their interactions with each other. Some families choose to only do that at home. And then when they go out and about in their shopping or at the park, they might switch to the majority language. Whereas other families might just decide no, like, all the time, as a family, no matter where we are, we're going to use the target language. So one pro of this is that the entire family is included in the target language use. And then one obstacle is that it might be tricky to navigate language use when there's monolingual company, like if you have friends over what do we do? Do we switch out of our normal patterns? So that's just one obstacle that could come up out. And before I keep going, I wanted to just mention that there are so many different ways to go about raising bilingual kids, right. And so you might be thinking, oh my gosh, we've only heard three and I already don't know which one to choose. But the real reality is that it totally depends on each family and their language context, their goals, what's accessible to them. So really, this is just an overview of different ways that you guys can go about it, but don't feel like you have to pay One and stick with what and there's no wiggle room like you can feel things out, feel what works for your family and then see if it's aligned with your goals. There's many parts to this, but I just want to kind of put out that disclaimer that there are many ways to go about it. But you don't have to like, feel like you have to do the most extreme, which we mentioned at the beginning, or there's so many ways. Alright, the next one is probably the most commonly known. It's called one parent, one language or one person, one language. A lot of times you'll see it abbreviated as Op ol. And this is where one parent or one primary giver speaks one language, and another parent or another primary caregiver speaks another language. So this would be like where mom speaks Russian and dad speaks English. And yeah, it's probably the most talked about when you read up on bilingual parenting, but it doesn't mean it's like the only or the main or the best strategy. It just happens to work really well, for a lot of families that do have one speaker, that's the native speaker of the target language, but then maybe the other parent doesn't speak that language. And so it just kind of naturally happens that that, that this strategy gets used. One Pro is that caregivers have clearly defined language roles. But then a potential obstacle would be that either the, you know, the caregiver that doesn't speak that target language might feel left out. So that's one obstacle. Then we have the mixed language approach, we're halfway done mixed language approach where, which is where all of the family members are bilingual. So in a two parent household, both parents are bilingual in the same two languages. And then as a family, they use those two languages, however, they most naturally flow and the kids do as well. And so that's called the mixed language approach. And one pro is that this is kind of bilingualism in its most natural form, right? When someone's bilingual, they tend to want to use all of their languages that they have available to them. But one potential obstacle is that, more often than not, this results in having an input imbalance, where the target language might start getting left out because of just how big English is or how big the majority languages everywhere else besides the home, and even in the home sometimes. So that's the mixed language approach.

Natalie Gross 22:13
That was how we did it at my house. Yeah. Growing up. And it's true as I got older and went to school English just became more and more prevalent.

Kaila Diaz 22:21
Exactly. And it's like almost the most tempting if you think about it, like for people who are bilingual, especially when both parents are bilingual, were bilingual, why would we not use both our languages, however, we want to let them flow, but it is something to be aware of, okay, if we're doing that, we need to make sure that the kids are still getting enough of the target language so that it doesn't get pushed out. So yeah. Yes, okay, the next one is travel or live abroad. So if a family has the opportunity or ability to travel to a region or a country where that target language is spoken, or even temporarily relocate there, then that will bring a lot of the target language in all the interactions, right, the kids might go to school in that language, they might make friends in that language. So one pro of this travel slash live abroad method is that they're gonna have native speaking peers, which is really huge for language learning for kids to see other kids that speak the language that really helps to kind of show the social value of the language. But then a potential obstacle is that this isn't always available to all families, it could be expensive or impractical. All right, we're almost at the end, we have the context method, and the time and place methods. Now context, they're very similar. And I'll just kind of describe them together. So this is where you're going to choose a specific time or a place, or an activity, or a context throughout your weekly routine, and you're going to bring the target language into it. So maybe, let's say it's a family that's like, I don't think I can commit to always, always always speaking Arabic. But what we can do is we can bring it into certain routines throughout our day, we can bring it into certain activities throughout our week. And we'll make those our Arabic time. Kind of like I think it was Joone who mentioned they do this, but with English, so they'll do certain activities, time and place for English. So that's what this method is. One pro is that it can help the kids get into a rhythm or even help the parents get into a rhythm with the language and brings the language into something often associated with fun if it's done with like an activity in mind, or it brings the language into the family routines. But a potential obstacle with this method is that families might struggle with the consistency long term. All of them have pros and cons. So honestly, this is a really good method. If you're like, where do I start? The Time and Place method is a great place to start. Okay, last two outside resources method. This is where the family that like the parents and I know we're going to talk about this a little bit more but the parents themselves don't speak the target language, but they know they want their child To be bilingual, so they utilize other resources, you know, outside the home. So immersion, schools childcare, childcare might even be in the home if they have someone come to the home. So immersion schools, childcare, classes, camps, media, who we talked about screen time earlier. So that's the outside resources method. The pro is that parents don't actually have to speak the target language themselves. But a potential obstacle is that the language might then not be kind of incorporated into the home and into the family. The kids might see it as something very separate. And then the last one, this is the most accessible. So this is the one if like, whoever's listening, and they're like, oh, this sounds so great. I wish I could raise my kids bilingually. But I don't know, if I, I don't speak the language, what do I do? The idea of the preliminary exposure approach is that, you know, you want to have bilingual kids, you want to raise your kids to be bilingual, what you know, you can commit to is getting them started on that path. So you can commit to laying that initial base of bilingualism you can learn alongside your child, and then seek out opportunities for your child to be exposed, whether through travel, or bringing books home from the library and learning together. So just whatever base you can lay, you lay the base. So that's the preliminary exposure approach. One Pro, like we mentioned is that it's accessible to whoever wants to pursue it. But then a potential obstacle is that there might not be a ton of input if it's just here in there. So it might be a little bit. It'll be minimal input overall. And yeah, there we go.

Natalie Gross 26:26
That was all really informative. Thank you so much, Kaila, and I'm so glad you addressed you know what parents can do, even if they don't speak the language. And you know, we've already heard from parents who are teaching their kids their second or third or fourth language. So I'm just so impressed by everybody. We're going to take another quick break. And when we come back, we're going to keep hearing from Kaila, and bring our parents back to the conversation. So stay tuned.

Natalie Gross 26:58
All right, I want to bring back everyone, for this third segment of our show and kind of discuss what we've just heard from Kaila. Parents, any thoughts?

Sylvia Cabus 27:09
I have to say that one of the big perspective shifts that I've had to experience with our son and raising him in French is having to let go of the term bilingual. And to understand his experience as, as his experience learning French as a Second Language. We had him in an immersion Saturday program in French. And when we shifted to online learning during COVID, he had a really difficult time. And this Saturday program was intended for Francophone kids who are going back to their home countries, whether in Europe or Africa or elsewhere to go back into the Francophone school system. And so it was a style that was foreign to him. And so we made the decision to switch him from that classic school environment to individual weekly tutoring, I did feel a disappointment and myself because I was so committed, or I made us so committed to bilingualism, but in the end, it was his needs and interests that needed to be addressed and not mine. And he is still learning French, he still speaks to other folks in French, he knows that if he wants to be a professional soccer player, French would be very helpful. And he knows that. You know, when he's a little older, he's going to be spending summers in France with his cousin. So I feel like there's a lot less pressure now that we have let go a little bit of that bilingual label.

Natalie Gross 28:40
That's super fair, Sylvia, and I'm so glad you mentioned that because I've had the you know, the same feelings myself with my son kind of refusing to speak back in Spanish to me when I've tried so hard. So Kaila, can you kind of define bilingual? Does it mean that you are equally fluent in both languages. You know, what's the difference between bilingualism and fluency? Like, what's kind of the standard?

Kaila Diaz 29:04
That's such a great question. And really, it's such a range. So with bilingual, the word bilingual, it really depends on how each person defines it. It could be someone who is fluent in their native language, and you know, has some conversational abilities in their second language, or it could be someone who is as close to balanced in their both languages as they can be, although because we don't live one life in one language, and we live that exact same life just in a second language. We're never going to be fully balanced in those two languages, because our languages are linked to experience. So it really is a big range. I would say, if a child is, you know, fluent in their first language, and they're starting to be able to communicate even just in little bits and pieces, then they're a bilingual child. It's just that there's a there's a big range. So that's what I would say.

Natalie Gross 29:55
Great. Parents, any other thoughts on you know, kind of those strategies that Kaila talked about?

Joone Wang 30:00
I can speak on one of them. From my personal experience, immersion is probably one of the most effective ways. So when I was entering high school, our family moved to Costa Rica. And I was there for four years. And I can say Spanish was picked up pretty quickly, because it was either it was sink or swim, we went to school in Spanish, we played soccer and Spanish, all of our neighbors were Spanish. So if we couldn't speak it, there was a problem. So we picked that up pretty quickly. But then while I was there, I was very interested in Japanese shows and comics. And I ended up just picking up Japanese just by listening to it constantly. So that strategy that I shared at the very beginning of kind of picking up my son's interests in the target language for us, which is English, really did kind of spark that, that growth in that language. And so that's why I'm trying to just pick out what he really likes to talk about for now, since he is younger, in order to not create any roadblocks of I don't want to do that. I don't want to speak in that language.

Nehal Siddiqui 31:04
For my younger daughter, we did the first strategy that you talked about, and it was during the time of the pandemic. So in a way, we were lucky because my daughter didn't get to really attend that many classes or do a twos program. She was at home all the time. And we have an early speaking nanny as well. So really, the only exposure she was getting up until three was Urdu. And she she spoke it fluently. In fact, before starting her three's program, we were even a little bit scared, like, how would she do in the Montessori you know, she didn't know the word for water or bathroom in English. But then within a week or two of starting her preschool program, you know, the the switch just flipped. And she just spoke in English. Like that's all she speaks. Now she responds in English. It's almost, you know, as others mentioned, like a refusal to answer me and or do and so maybe I am interested in, you know, your, your thoughts here on what I could have done better, or what we can even do now, when we've experienced this shift, and just the one year that she's been in school?

Natalie Gross 32:11
Yeah, Kaila, I would love to hear your thoughts on that as well. You know, when your kid is responding in the majority language, you know, or they may say they don't even want to speak in that language anymore. I did that to my mom, and it broke her heart. I know, you know, we've talked about this happening to many of us. So I want to know, Kaila, what you think. And then from the other parents, like how you just kind of have pushed through that.

Kaila Diaz 32:32
It's such a big topic like that's a it's a huge question. And there's lots of different ways to go about it. I talk about it and in the way of like, like, help my child I know, they speak my home language. They speak our home language, but they don't want to speak it. And what do we do? And that's kind of the overall arcing overarching question. So I'm going to talk a little bit about it. But just know that on my Instagram, I do have like a whole collection of posts and a guide. Like on Instagram, they have that little guide section and I have a bunch of posts about this. So if you're like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, that was a lot of information all at once. You guys can always go check out those posts and

Natalie Gross 33:06
Kaila's Instagram and additional resources will be on our website when this episode comes out.

Kaila Diaz 33:11
True. Good to mention. Yes, it's called Bilinguitos in case you forget to look it up. But yes, thank you. The biggest thing to do first is to kind of step back and look at maybe what the root of it is because kids will, quote unquote, refuse sounds a little harsh, but sometimes it really is just flat out refusal, or sometimes it might just be like tending to not use the target language. And it'll be for a whole bunch of different reasons. And so depending on what their reason is kind of what's that deep seated, deep seated root of the issue, you'll go about it different ways. So if it's, if it's truly an issue of I don't have the vocabulary to express what I want to express, and I know I have it in English, then they're gonna like if that's kind of what they're thinking, then they're going to tend to use English, even if they understand the target language and can speak it to a certain level, if they know I'm a lot more comfortable with my dominant language, I'm just gonna use my dominant language. And so that's kind of the natural tendency with kids who are bilingual, they're going to default to their more comfortable language. Whereas there might be other reasons why a child would refuse kind of like with the child who you guys were just talking about the three year old speaking odo and not wanting to speak it, even though that was her only language for her first three years. So it's probably not necessarily an issue of I don't have the words to speak. I don't have the words to explain what I'm feeling. It might just be more of a I've been in this classroom I'm seeing that English is such a social language. Yes, I spoke to at home for three years, but now I've like had all these new experiences in English playing with other kids. All of the other kids are using English with our teachers and their parents. So a lot of times it can be socially motivated, not a vocabulary issue. About a social thing where they're just seeing that English has all this weight in the world. And what's the point then of our target language? So as you can see, there's like a lot of these are deep reasons, right? And so it might sound like, oh my gosh, you're right, what, what do we do? The biggest thing is just to stay consistent. And then continue to bring the target language to the child continued to, if they're, if they are worrying about oh, I want to say this thing, but I don't know how to quite say, I don't quite know how to say it in my target language, I'm going to use English, then you can do something what I like to call as parroting you pare it back to them, whatever they said in English, you just give them that vocabulary in the target language. I do Spanish at home with my daughter. So if she was to say, like, Mommy at school, so and so shared their snack with me at snack time. Oh, and like "En la escuala le compartio el snack" whatever, just kind of repeat what they said back. So that's just to kind of give them those words, they might not know they might not have the vocabulary that they're using at school, in the home language, because I've never had to talk about it in the home language, but you can then pare it back to them. Give them the vocabulary that they might need. But on the social, or the social, emotional, socio emotional connection side of it. You can have open conversations with your kids, like even if they're little even if they're two and a half, three, four. I mean, obviously, when they're in elementary school, you know, to be like to talk about it more and explain why we value bilingualism, why do we value our home language, but even when they're little, you can do that too. Like, Oh, I understand that you're speaking you're learning so much English at school, you're doing such a great job. You're learning all these new words. That's so exciting. But don't forget why we are really passionate about our language here at home. It connects us to our family. It allows you to speak to grandma and grandpa and stuff like that. So there's many different strategies that's kind of just scratching the surface. But hopefully that was helpful.

Natalie Gross 36:58
Absolutely. Parents, what are some good resources that you would recommend for other parents listening who are trying to raise bilingual children, especially those that have babies right now and are kind of wondering where to start? Were there any like shows or books or anything like that, that was helpful to you.

Kaila Diaz 37:16
I will pop in on on this real quick, because I know that some of our parents were mentioning that depending on the language is either either a lot of resources available are very few resources available. So for the families that do have a target language that is more prevalent on like the Netflix audio options, or Disney plus audio options and being able to change those languages, then that's a really great tool is to kind of like leverage screen time as a tool and not feel bad about it because it's a tool. But for the parents who don't I know, we kind of wanted to continue that conversation someone was mentioning, well, what about our language, we don't have a lot of resources available to us. I don't know if you guys wanted to continue that conversation a little bit about how you go about it if you don't have a language, if your language is not super, super rich in those resources here in the United States?

Natalie Gross 38:11
Sure. I'm curious to know how you know, for Urdu, is it easy to find other families in your area that speaks that language? Or for you, Michelle too. I know, here in the DC area, maybe there's a lot. But yeah, just curious if you've been able to find you know, play groups on Facebook or anything like that, that parents can look into.

Nehal Siddiqui 38:30
So during COVID, actually, for my for my older son, we had to take classes with somebody in Pakistan. And at that point, timezone wasn't an issue because he was doing remote learning. And so we would have him log in online and there was a an instructor in Pakistan that he would take, you know, a 30 minute class with. And it was just conversational Urdu. And it was great for him. Because you know, it would just be simple sentences, but enough to get him comfortable with just speaking and responding back. And that lasted for, you know, a good six months, and then we had to stop it once he went back to school. So that is a resource, right? If there's a way to find an online language group. For the older kids, I know it can be harder for younger kids to sit in on those classes. But for older groups, I would I would suggest some kind of online class.

Michelle Hsiao 39:20
So what's funny is that in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area, there is a huge Chinese community. But even among like my Chinese friends, our primary language is English. So when we talk to each other, we do speak English to each other. But there are a lot of tools for Chinese speakers. So Luke did go to a summer immersion camp for Mandrin last summer and he will go again this summer and I know there are schools but they're a little bit far from us. But things that really worked for us with him is Chinese music books. He likes listening to music and listening to check use music at home. I tried to do the videos, and it worked when I was younger in both Chinese and Portuguese and you know, obviously he loves YouTube. But unfortunately, now that he talks a lot, he no longer wants to watch those. And those languages and only English, but he still likes to listen to the music books. So that is something that we do.

Natalie Gross 40:20
Joone, what about you. Any resources?

Joone Wang 40:22
Actually, what I found was surprising that we had those Leapfrog books that you can just press and it sings a song or says a word. My son when he was three actually picked up the alphabet song just from that we never this is when he hasn't attended anything in English, we only speak Korean at home. And then all of a sudden, he was singing the alphabet song in English. We were like, what, where did he get this and then we saw him one day, and he was just pressing on the book, and he was just mimicking parroting everything that came out of the book. And so wow, this is pretty useful. And so we got him a few more toys that sang songs in both English and Korean. We had our family members in Korea kind of send us some more toys like that. And they seem to really work because it did pique his interest. And, of course, it was highly repetitive. So because they keep pressing the same kids book. Yeah. And so my daughter, thankfully, is kind of following suit, where she's just pressing on the same thing over and over. And she's kind of singing Twinkle, twinkle little star, mostly humming, but I'm sure with the repetitiveness and kind of following her older brother. It'll catch up soon. Great. So toys work.

Natalie Gross 41:43
Yeah. Yeah, that's really good to hear. Any other thoughts from anyone before we wrap up?

Sylvia Cabus 41:49
I'm just gonna be facetious and say there's a lot of Pedialyte and vodka involved.

Kaila Diaz 41:56
I was just gonna add in, because I know that this podcast is for a lot of new moms with babies. Music, music is such a huge and this kind of goes on to what Jun was saying about the books that sing. But music just, it's so repetitive and, and it's just something that babies really respond to. And so if you can find some songs in your target language, and bring those into your daily routines. I do I work with a lot of families with young babies like zero to 15 months. And that's what we're doing all the time is like teaching songs, and songs with Pan movements and different things that parents can just use throughout the week. So that it just easy like, Okay, what do I do? There's a, you know, babies aren't talking from zero to 12 months or round there. So what do you say to them all day? Like, what are we do? Bring in a ton of music. It's super, super helpful and useful.

Joone Wang 42:45
Oh, do you mind if I add something just on top of that? Yeah, so in kindergarten, I was an ESL teacher for first grade. And so we worked with a lot of kindergartens as well. And a lot of the first phonics lessons and English lessons that they do in kindergarten is sing songs. They bring up a big board book, or a giant book that has Humpty Dumpty, and they sing it 50 times a day. And then they move on to a different song which has tumbled to the little star. And this helps with word recognition later on, and them to put words to the sound of words to print. So like, as the teachers point to the words, the kids will naturally pick up like, Oh, when I sing this word, it's teachers pointing to that word right there. So like Michelle said, lots of songs will really, really help because that's what they do. starting in kindergarten.

Michelle Hsiao 43:35
I had one thing that had and kind of a question for Kaila, too. So for me, it's been really hard trying to navigate Luke trying to speak both Mandarin and Portuguese. I would really like to be trilingual, but I feel like there's a lot of push and pull with trying to make him learn both language especially because I don't speak Portuguese. And I feel like I'm kind of the sole parent that is concerned about him trying to be trilingual. But I also feel like I'm running against time a little bit. His he's three and a half. And I feel like once he goes to school, it's going to be much harder for him to learn. So I just wanted to see what your thoughts were on that. Kaila, if you had any advice or tips?

Kaila Diaz 44:12
Yeah, that's a great question. And I have I work with families that ask that because they're really focused on a target language and then English, their child's bilingual and the question becomes, when to focus on a third language, when to bring it in, or how hard to focus on it. And there's so many different ways to go about it. It depends on kind of where your priorities are like. But I would say the whole time thing where people are like, I'm missing a window or I'm really racing against the clock. I wouldn't let that be a huge stressor for you. So if you you're in a rhythm with Mandarin and then English at school, what I would do if it was me and my three year old and i She is completely Spanish fluent. She is three I have a three year old, her English Just hearing there, she's getting it through my parents, I do eventually want to do a third language as well, either Portuguese or Korean I know completely different. But those are ones that I've studied in my academics and I, I sometimes will expose her now that she's in the window quote, unquote, as they say, for developing sound systems, developing the pronunciation of native like pronunciation. I, I do do some music with her in both of those languages. But I have them kind of like, okay, when we get to a point where I feel like she's ready to start kind of sitting down and learning a third language, I'm going to add that in, but at the time right now, it's not my focus. So depends. It depends on if you want to jump on that now. But I also would just like peace of mind, know that you can revisit that when he's 567. Just do what you can now and then later on, bring a third language in if it's if you want to be a little bit more intentional about Mandarin right now, bringing that third one in later on the window. never fully. There's no closing of a window for losing for learning language. So that's what I would say. That's really

Natalie Gross 46:09
great to hear. Kayla, thank you. Well, thank you so much to our expert Kayla Diaz, and to our parents, Silvia, Nehal, Michelle and Jun, who joined us for this episode today. You can find out more about Kaila's organization Bilinguitos at Bilinguitos.com. That's b-i-l-i-n n-g-u-i-t-o-s.com. And be sure to check out newmommymedia.com where we have all of our podcasts episodes, plus videos and more.

Natalie Gross 46:45
That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to Newbies. Don't forget to check out our sister shows Preggy Pals for expecting parents, Parent Savers for moms and dads with toddlers, the Boob Group for moms who get breast milk to their babies and twin talks for parents of multiples. Thanks for listening to newbies your go to source for new moms and new babies.

Disclaimer 47:10
This has been a New Mommy Media production information and material contained in this episode I presented for educational purposes early statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of new mommy media and shall not be considered facts. Will such information and materials are believed to be accurate. It is not intended to replace or substitute for professional medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating healthcare problem or disease or prescribing any medication. If your questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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