Bill Belew has raised 2 bi-cultural kids, now 34 and 30. And he and his wife are now parenting a 3rd, Mia, who is 8.
How to raise a bilingual kid?
Wouldn’t everyone like to know how to do it? Maybe not. But those parents who want their kids to be able to have softer heads = more flexible brains that can do multi-tasking, get dementia later in life or not all, and be all-around cooler people want their kids to be bilingual, or better yet, bi-cultural.
7-steps parents can take to help their kids along the road to two paths.
1. Exposure – no, don’t leave your kid out in the cold … or hot. Do, let your kid connect to both languages you want him/her to learn in as many ways as possible. Think natural, fun and useful.
2. Immersion – but do let the child come up for air. Put the kid in a sink or swim situation where they must use the language. The kid won’t know any better and will use what works. And when all else fails laughter and crying is universal and communicates well.
3. Proactive – do nothing. Sit and wait and see how that turns out. Or … better yet, do something, anything and your kid will definitely learn more … you, too!
4. Friends – if s/he is cute enough in any way imaginable, your kid or their kid will do what it takes to communicate. People like to be with people that are likable. Love will find a way.
Talk to Bill and others about their experiences raising bi-cultural Japanese-American kids.