Plurilingual Families (1)

How many bilingual or plurilingual families we have out there? Being bilingual means understanding and expressing yourself in two languages, and being able to communicate in both. Plurilingual individuals speak more than two languages. Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. does not have an official language and many families use the languages of their home countries/heritage at home and with family members.  Many of these families face the dilemma caused by deciding on whether to focus on teaching just the dominant language (English) of their community or trying to raise them with additional language.

While we are technically a bilingual family (English + Spanish), the only ones who it applies to are me and my mom. My husband and kids have never really caught on.  My mom and I try to speak in Spanish at home to expose them so they can understand it but I doubt that I will ever have the time to really dedicate myself to teaching them. A lot of families have this issue when both parents are working and only one of them speaks the additional language. It creates awkward situations at family gatherings when my kids are the only ones who can’t communicate with the elderly generation of the family.

Studies show that there are added benefits to exposing children to several languages. These children become students and business professionals who are more creative and better at developing problem-solving skills. It also enhances cognitive skills and makes it easier to learn additional languages in the future. Parents who want to incorporate multilingual parenting should commit to a plan and have patience, it will not happen overnight! You will have to remain consistent in your approach and use the language as much as possible with your kids to expose them and assist them with associating the different words, tone, meanings, etc.

What challenges do you face as a multilingual family in making it work? If you are one of the lucky ones, what advice do you have to help others?

For more on multilingual parenting:

Liz Cameo Liz