Sunday, May 13, 2007

Bilingual Role Models

If you're raising a bilingual child, you've probably thought about who could serve as a bilingual role model for your child. Of course, parents who play active roles in their children's development are of the utmost importance. But, a bilingual role model can also play a vital role by providing yet another way for the child to see what an asset being multilingual can be.

There are all sorts ways to locate a bilingual role model. Perhaps the easiest bilingual role models to find are on TV! Many children might look to characters, like Dora the Explorer, and her cousin Diego. However, as we've discussed in other posts, children need to interact in the target language too. So, kids might look up to bilingual family members, godparents, family friends, or older children. If you have bilingual extended family members or bilingual friends, then it shouldn't be too much trouble for your child to find someone they can look up to. If you're not in such a situation, it might be more difficult, but not impossible. Are there local students and/or teachers of the target language? Are there target language speakers that you could interact with via online synchronous voice/video chat? By using a little bit of imagination and your available resources, you should be able to identify someone who could help you in your journey.

Not only can these relationships can be really important for children to learn more about the target language and culture, but they also provide a wonderful opportunity for another adult to develop a nurturing relationship with your child. And, this relationship could be fruitful even if the role model speaks a language other than your current target language! For example, our daughter has a wonderful role model who speaks French and English; we'll never forget the week she spent visiting our house and spending time with our daughter. She cooked French dishes, like crepes; she sang songs and read books in French; and she continues to be a good bilingual role model for her.

Who is a bilingual role model for your child? Looking forward to sharing experiences!

1 comment:

anatris said...

Dear Mary,

This is such an important issue when raising bi/multilingual children. I do not have children yet, but I worked as an ESL teacher for three years. My students all craved for role models. People who like them spoke two languages and identified themselves with two cultures, and were successful. I enjoyed reading through your blog. I'll be looking forward to put into practice your advice when I have children -since I am from Costa Rica and my boyfriend is American!