How can we nurture bilingual children?
As an international education group with 25 years’ history, our reputable bilingual immersion programme across all ages has already produced several cohorts of fluent bilingual speakers. We want to do more than teach students to read, write, and speak in another language. It is also important they are exposed to different cultures so they can truly become capable global citizens.
Recently, The Straits Times, an English-language newspaper based in Singapore, interviewed Ms Renee Sim, Senior Curriculum Manager at EtonHouse about how we can nurture bilingual children. Here are some valuable tips she shared, let’s take a look!
Get tips from Ms Sim!
Don’t worry if you’re not fluent.
“A lot of parents are always worried about reading in the language because they lack confidence. Like, I’m not fluent in this language, so I’m not the best person to read this book, I should leave this role to the teachers to do it in school. But if you’re reading for pleasure, I think it’s nice to pick out the book still. Maybe you can start by going into the illustrations, talk about the pictures and use simple, short phrases to talk about what’s happening in the book. I think one other underlying message that you’re sending to your child here when you do this is that you’re also showing your child your willingness to learn something that you’re not good at.”
Go for bilingual texts to build confidence.
There are a lot of good books with both English and Mandarin text side by side. You could start with those books first to build interest, confidence and habit of listening to the language. Another angle to go about this is also to maybe pay a little bit more attention to the topics that your child is interested in. Because sometimes we adults pick books that we think are great but from a child’s perspective, it may not be relatable. The moment when it’s not relatable, with the other elements such as a language the child is not familiar with, it can add on to the level of difficulty. Then it will be an issue of not being able to sustain their interest.
Avoid testing them but to encourage their efforts.
Don’t put your child in an environment where your child is being tested. Language is used for social interaction. You really want to build on the confidence of the child to be able to use this language naturally and confidently.
As parents, we need to adjust our expectations. The key here is giving them exposure, building the confidence and also the interest, and hopefully, the love for the language. Because I think as parents, what we are afraid of is that when the child has a lack of confidence, there is resistance. And it becomes a very strong dislike against the language. I think it is more about keeping it spontaneous and also giving information and knowledge to your child when they are using the language.
Renee held various teaching and leadership positions in EtonHouse, including Principal at EtonHouse Pre-School and Curriculum Manager at EtonHouse International Education Group. With a strong belief in making a difference to the lives of children, Renee switched mid-way from a course in Business Management in 2007 and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Studies instead. Renee’s positive image of child guides her philosophies in creating vibrant learning environments for children focused on relationships and inquiry. She also believes that relationships with children are built through learning experiences based on their interests.
EtonHouse first entered China by establishing EtonHouse International School in Suzhou in 2003. Over the past years, EtonHouse has been recognized as an experienced education group for its unique and innovative teaching methods and high-quality education. EtonHouse has established more than 40 schools in more than 20 cities in China.
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