Instilling Bilingual Education & Cultural Appreciation

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Bilingual Education & Cultural Appreciation

Baby is four months now and I am anticipating his first word.  To help him along I talk to him every day and sing to him, but I sing and talk in English. My husband believes that it is inevitable that his first word will be in English. I do spend most of the time with him and most others around him speak English. I do feel for my husband because it will take a lot of effort on his part to speak with my son and get him to pick up Japanese.  Although my son already shows a strong attraction to the language he is just not exposed to it enough.

So my plans for helping my son become bilingual are this:

  • 1st I had my in-laws bring tons of educational materials from Japan. I figure if I put on the DVDs he can hear and see the language as it sounds and looks. I can also use my basic Japanese to teach writing (I write better than my husband).
  • 2nd I plan to enroll him in a Japanese speaking daycare when he turns 1.
  • 3rd I plan to send him to Japan for summers to live with his grandparents once he turns 5.

With these basics in place he should be starting school fully bilingual, if not, we still have time. Although studies suggest that children are exposed to as many languages as possible before 5, I know that any effort before the teen years makes a huge impact. I am still going strong on my Junior High Spanish, it set the foundation for me to be able to communicate in Spanish on just a basic level and I can read Spanish perfectly although I am not 100% bilingual!

Nobody said it was going to be easy, but I think the payoff will be worth it. For me the goal is giving my child the richness of the world through language.  I think about how much I wished somebody had dropped me off in Costa Rica to learn Spanish when I was a bit younger. I still wouldn’t mind being dropped off there now!

I think going into a global society like we have today you have to give your kids two languages, even if it is what initially seems like just Mommy’s language and Daddy’s language.

 

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Tara Kamiya

Tara is the author of TaraKamiya.com, where she writes about her bicultural Japanese family.She defines herself as a Wife, Mother and creative personality who speaks on all subjects. Tara currently lives in NYC with her husband and son.
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