Support Bilingualism in the Home

I thought this was an interesting post on babble, the author discusses the advantages for children of having a nanny that speaks another language. This is a totally new take on bilingualism and one that isn’t often heard. Some people anyway, are getting the message that it could be an advantage for their children to know another language.

I think that my parents always wanted us to maintain our home language. They felt that it would open doors for us and that knowing Spanish would also keep us connected to family. It did and it has. But, what are the practical things to consider in having a nanny who speaks another language?

For one, I think that it would be important to provide the child with rich language experiences in the language of the nanny. It can’t be just a matter of hearing the language around the child, but for the language to “stick” the nanny needs to use the language with the child.

Exposure to more than one person who speaks the language will also help. Here, I’m thinking about De Houwer’s study about learning and maintaining a home language, which I discussed previously. If only one parent in the family uses the language it’s less likely that the child will continue using the language than if both parents use the language. I think perhaps this idea can be extended to having a nanny or babysitter who speaks another language. There has to be other adults who interact in that language and with the child. Probably, if one of the parents also speaks the nanny’s language this would help to teach the child the language.

If possible, exposure to a community of speakers may help the child to better learn the language. Having a variety of people to interact with teaches them the value of that language. It also exposes them to more vocabulary and ways of interacting.

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