I hope you have all read Ana Flores’ blog post that she wrote for Babble. In it, she described all the important benefits that stem from raising a bilingual child. The reasons she listed was: Opening up a world of opportunities, the fact that you might regret it if you don’t pass on your language to your child , comfort for the parent that gets to speak his or her own language, as well as connection with the extended family. And I can’t help but agree with these valid points.
I like how this post is different to all other posts that describe benefits of being bi-or multilingual, more personal, and less scientific, and it also mentions things that you don’t really think about, like the regret factor.
And I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I came up with my own 4 benefits to raising a multilingual child. Some of these reasons are pretty hilarious. Here we go:
1) If you’re lucky enough to speak an exotic language (such as Polish in the Netherlands), and your child says something particularly embarrassing, nobody is going to understand her! I experienced this first hand, when I took Klara to see a doctor, and she mentioned very loudly that she wanted to go pee pee - in Polish. While such kind of situations will happen eventually, I am glad that I might be spared at least some of them.
2) Suddenly, all your family will start thinking about language. This happened to my mother-in-law, who wanted to explain to Klara the concept of “Löwenzahn”, German for “dandelion”. The English word for this flower means the same things like it does in German: “lion’s tooth”. So my mother in law tried to explain. She roared like a lion, and pointed to her teeth. Well, while this is not at all how children learn language, it was funny to see her at least giving the issue of language some thought.
3) Not only does my child know nursery rhymes and songs in all three languages, she also knows many versions of songs like: “The wheels on a bus”, or “Frere Jacque”. Not that she needs to know this right now- especially the English songs, and I’m still not sure how I feel about singing songs in other languages than Polish with her, but it’s funny. Also, sometimes she makes her own little mash-ups, combining all songs in all languages, and that is just sooo cute!
4) You have one more thing to brag about your child: Your three-year old counts to ten? Mine knows how to do it in three languages. I understand that she can recite poems. But only in one language! What’s your child’s superpower? I know, this one is more for fun. I don’t think monolingual (or basically other people’s) children are worse (or better) than mine. Still, I am very proud of my children- like all moms, I think.
What would you want to add to this list? Are there any unexpected or funny benefits to raising a bi-or multilingual child?