Multilingualism in Children – A Boon or a Bane?

Multilingualism is a boon in many ways and a bane in other others. Although the pros may outnumber the cons, some parents are still apprehensive about raising a multilingual child. Raising a multilingual child can be a challenging task and yet there are so many benefits that are attributed to your child for being multilingual.

The Boons

1. Your child is ahead of others in life from the very beginning

Multilingualism is a tremendous factor in giving your child a headstart, whether it is in school or later in life. Since your child has the opportunity of learning two or more languages simultaneously, he develops into a far more alert and intelligent kid. He’ll be able to pick up new things fast and learn new words in a jiffy.

2. Your child’s reading and writing skills are enhanced

Learning more languages means more reading and more writing. This is bound to sharpen your child’s reading and writing abilities. He will be sharper than the most of the kids in his class and isn’t it a great thing to see him reciting the French poem that you taught him and looking at the audience staring in awe at his perfect French pronunciations.

3. It helps build your child’s character and personality

If your child knows more that two languages then it is an extremely good thing as it will help in an all round development of the child. He will grow up to be more tolerant of other cultures and societies and will learn to respect their traditions and customs. It will also give him an edge above the others and hence boost his self confidence and build his self belief and trust.

4. Your child will learn how to adjust and adapt

Multilingualism will teach your child to adapt to various situations in life and not react invariably to the varied situations of life. All that he reads while learning the languages will tell him that there are ways that things are meant to be done and that is the right approach. Hastening into a decision will not land him anywhere. Since he knows many languages he will feel comfortable in any place that life may take him to.

5. Your child will have brighter career prospects

In today’s multicultural world knowing just one language is not enough. There are business deals going on between countries who do not understand each others languages. In such scenarios which are very common these days your child will have the upper hand above his colleague who may know just one language. Most Multi National Companies now specify the need for employees who at least know one other language other than English.

6. You may feel closer to your child this way

With your child knowing your long lost mother tongue you may be able to relate to your child in a better and a more intimate way. In fact, the child may even use this language to show his affection to you or make you feel special.

The Banes

1. You may have to work harder

Teaching a single language to a child is a tough job in itself. With the additional burden of another one it may be hard for you to keep up the pace. You cannot expect the child to learn the languages in a few days. You have to constantly keep pushing your limits of patience and dedication in order to teach your child a language properly. You have to constantly be on your toes if you want your child to be a multilingual. In today’s fast paced world with your own jobs and commitments this may not be such an easy task.

2. Your child may take more time to start talking

Since your child is learning many words in many languages it may take time for him to actually absorb all that he is learning and express it in his own way. This may worry some parents as your child may not have started talking but your friend’s may have. But be patient and learn to wait because this wait is definitely worth it.

3. Your child may end up confusing languages

It is quite common for your child to mix up words of different languages if he’s learning more than two together. He may not be able to express himself in one language and will hence use the word from the other language as a substitute. But this should not worry you as gradually as his vocabulary of both the languages increase he will not mix up the words anymore. He will be able to express himself in both equally well and that is when you will feel proud of your child and all the efforts that you put in to make him multilingual.

So in case you are hesitant, don’t be as all the troubles are worth what you get in the end.