We Didn’t Start With a Family Language Plan
When people hear that our children speak four languages, they ask us how we taught them. We've been teaching them since birth, we say. This sounds like careful planning, but in reality, it all happened on its own. We had language learning goals for A when she was born, but we didn't have a plan. While we had discussed extensively about our hopes for her to be fluent and literate in our heritage languages, we had no idea how we would get there. We wondered how our own parents had taught us, only to realize that our target languages now were the...
Practical Language Strategies We’ve Tried at Home
I was recently asked about how we have been teaching our young children three heritage languages (Cantonese, Mandarin, Russian) while balancing the community language, English. Here are a few practical strategies I shared: Infants (0-1) Start your relationship with your child in your heritage language. Many people recommend methods like OPOL (One Person One Language) or MLAH (Minority Language at Home) to provide guidance on when to use which language. Our family didn’t adopt either strategy and simply tried to speak to our children naturally and consistently in our native languages from birth. Both of our children have learned to code switch...
Our Multilingual Family
Welcome! I'm a mom of two, raising biracial children under the age of 5, A (4 years old) and J (2 years old), in four languages. Why learn a heritage language? In our family, we speak four languages regularly: our community language, English, along with three of our heritage languages: Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin) from myself and Russian from my husband. Before our children were born, my husband and I decided that it would be important for us to share our mother tongues with our children. Later on in their lives, our children may still want to study a foreign...