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Why You Should Never Compare your Bilingual Journey to Other Families

Instagram and Facebook are full of content about raising your child bilingually. Recently, I’ve been made aware of the anxiety parents feel when comparing the speed or ability of their child against others, and I thought it was the right time to share my thoughts on the matter.

I understand it, I do! As parents, it is human nature to compare our children with others, and not just on academic ability, but on their whole lifestyles, educational status, out of school achievements, milestones and more.

I will not dig into the psychology of why we do this as parents (that’s an entire blog post topicon its own). However, considering this with a family’s bilingual journey can definitely cause more harm than good and become a significant stress factor.

Why did you choose to raise your child bilingually?

Let’s explore this point further. Why did you choose to raise your child bilingually? There are usually a variety of answers to this question:

  • As parents, you come from two different countries or cultures
  • You moved to a new country, either for business or personal reasons, and wish to give your child a head start in another language
  • It was always your dream to have bilingual children

Once you decided you would have researched and chosen a method to meet your family’s needs.

That may have been a traditional method such as OPOL (one person one language), minority language at home, or you set up a technique that you feel will work or is working for you within your family environment.

The highs and lows of learning

You’ve all heard the phrase ‘if it’s not broken don’t fix it.’ With your bilingual journey, this saying is worth bearing in mind.

There will be good times, tantrums, and fantastic language milestones, but these are all part of the journey that needs embracing. Some days, when your child is not responding (or downright ignoring you), or if you are using the minority language, you may feel like giving up.

Meeting or connecting with other bilingual families who have chosen the same route as you, can be uplifting. However, it can also cause you to compare. It’s worth remembering that theirjourney is always going to be different to yours because each child is unique, and each parent has an alternative vision and expectation of how they see this journey panning out.

Stop comparing and start supporting

Comparing your child because they are not fluent yet isn’t going to make them learn any faster. Responding in the majority language even though the question asked was in the minority language can frustrate any parent, but patience and perseverance are necessary.
Some children may not grasp certain words or phrases or get frustrated with a specific parent or family member because of the language they are speaking. These are normal reactions, and yes, they can be frustrating, but they are also signs that your child needs more time and support.
Each child reacts differently, and each family deals with certain situations in their own way. I am not saying you should not seek advice from other bilingual families or social media groups, etc., but use these resources to gather tips from like-minded individuals.
Embrace your family’s bilingual journey, make the best out of it even when things are not going to plan, and please do not compare your child’s current language status with that of another family. Instead, be proud of the achievements your child has made so far, and enjoy learning together.

Need more help?

If you would like to learn more about raising bilingual children get in touch

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