Are you raising your bub to be bilingual?
This was an issue that came up for us long before we even thought of starting a family. My husband is Polish, and as a result we had talked about whether or not we would raise our children to be bilingual. Frankly, from my efforts at learning other languages at school I wasn’t sure it was something I could do. I had enough trouble with my mother tongue let alone any others!
We did some research into it at the time. There are two main ways to do it. The first was that my husband would only speak to the baby/toddler/child in Polish while I would speak to them in English. The other way was to have family speak to them only in Polish while they learned English outside the home. That was the way my sister in law learned it, as have many of my friend’s children.
Obviously there are pros and cons. Firstly, bub learns two languages which is fantastic, but their speech may be delayed. This is understandable really. They are learning two languages at the same time!
One of my girlfriends who was married to a Greek man found it hilarious that her toddler would chat away happily with her in English, but when he got angry or threw a tantrum he would shout away in Greek! Equally, another friend struggled when she would speak English to her little one but they would only answer her in French. She learned the basics very quickly as a result!
In the end, my kids are not bilingual much to the disappointment of their Babcia. My husband kept forgetting to talk to them in Polish and I kept forgetting to remind him. Sleep deprivation does that to you. Babcia makes up for it though by speaking to them only in Polish when they see her and they’ve picked up a fair bit in the process. It is a great deal of work and requires much commitment.
While I feel a bit guilty my kids don’t speak two languages, I figure they’ll forgive me eventually.