How to Fail Miserably at Raising a Bilingual Child

December 11th, 2012By Category: Family & Schools

In my previous articles 16 Tips for Raising a Bilingual Child in Japan and 12 More Tips for Raising a Bilingual Child in Japan, I sought to offer useful suggestions for successfully supporting the English side of a child who attends a Japanese school. In this article, I would like to give equal time to the goal of failing miserably at this task. The truth is, achieving utterly dismal results takes dedication, too. This list of 10 helpful tips is intended to provide support for advancing satisfactorily toward that end.

1. Make a sincere effort to be so consumed with work and personal interests that you have as little time as possible to spend with your child. Do not be deterred by frequent pleading from your spouse or your youngster’s tears. To realize your long-term goal, you must turn a deaf ear to their selfish demands.

2. Commit firmly to remaining disinterested in information which concerns the raising of bilingual children, whether in print or online. Instead, fix your attention on important things like sports statistics and celebrity gossip. Spend additional hours arguing about such topics with strangers in online forums.

3. Actively skirt any constructive discussion of your child’s language development with your spouse. Refrain, in particular, from creating a concrete strategy for nurturing the child’s English ability. The approach linguists refer to as “flying by the seat of your pants” will prove far more effective.

4. Devote yourself to not following through on ideas that might advance your child’s bilingual ability. By the same token, inconsistency is key to your actions. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of regular routines when it concerns the child’s language development.

5. Do your utmost to avoid speaking to the child. When you must respond to an overly inquisitive tot, use no more than two or three words and—this is very important—do not look away from your cellphone or computer screen. Ideally, you should simply grunt once or twice and maintain concentration on your urgent business until the child sadly withdraws.

6. Strive to read aloud to your child as infrequently as possible. When, despite your best efforts, you find yourself in this potentially nurturing position, always choose the dullest book on hand and read in a weary, soulless voice, yawning loudly at every page turn.

7. Make sure you have no more than half a dozen old, ratty picture books in your home. A good rule of thumb is one book per child. If you have more than six children, instruct the smallest ones to share a single book. You will be teaching the importance of sharing at the same time.

8. Endeavor to keep your home as barren of English resources as you can. Remember, the fewer resources available, the more likely you will achieve your ultimate aim. To further frustrate the child’s bilingual development, seek to increase resources in the majority language instead.

9. Turn to the power of positive thinking by telling yourself: “I’m a friggin’ native speaker so my kid will pick up English easy! No problem!” Reinforce this message at home by telling your spouse to stop worrying so much about your child’s language development. Relax with a bottle of fine wine.

10. Pay close heed to every person who gives you his two cents about raising bilingual children, particularly the most uninformed. Take to heart the advice that rearing a child with two languages will confuse him, even damage him, and lead to a life of crime and incarceration.

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Author of this article

Adam Beck

Adam Beck is the blogger of Bilingual Monkeys, a site of “ideas and inspiration for raising bilingual kids (without going bananas).” A former teacher at Hiroshima International School, and now a writer for the Hiroshima Peace Media Center, Adam is the father of two bilingual children. For more suggestions on raising bilingual children in Japan, please visit BilingualMonkeys.com by clicking on the WEBSITE link above.

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