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RAISING BILINGUAL, MULTILINGUAL CHILDREN

     One relevant and interesting area in the discourse of multi-cultural families is language.  Apart from the culture difference, perhaps a major concern of parents in multi-cultural families is the choice of language by which to raise their children.
     In which language will the children be raised? Which language is most appropriate to use when communicating with children?
     How is language going to affect the self- concept of children?  How is language going to affect the relationship between parents and children?  
     Very simple questions but is of paramount importance to the child's growing up years.  Hence, some parents have opted to adopt the dominant or community langauge because both parents are fluent and comfortable with it.
     Others on the other hand, have made a resolute decision to raise their children bilingually.  Various concerns, questions and doubts though are raised about raising children bilingually.
     These include speech difficulty, language mix up (confusion), not attaining a certain level of mastery, language developmental problems and disorientation among others. Worse, there are worries about personality or identity problems.
     As bilingualism becomes a prevalent phenomenon partly due to present massive international migration and the global movement of population or increased number in intermarriages, current research tend to dispel various myths related to it.
     Although language mix up does occur, it gradually disappears as the child learns the appropriate concept and vocabulary associated with a particular object in both languages.  In the long run, language segregation eventually takes place.
     Also, while it is also true that there is a tendency to borrow a word or phrase from another, this is normal for words or phrases which are not easily translated or do not have an appropriate equivalents.
     Various experiences of multi-cultural families who made a firm decision and strong commitment to raise their children bilingually suggest that constant exposure to the minor langauge is a key factor in the success of raising bilingual children.
     This could be done in several ways. One parent for example can constantly communicate to the child in the language where he/she is comfortable with from the beginning.
     With this, the child learns through association, whereby one parent is associated with a particular language. And since this is a decision, it is important to be consistent and persistent.
     Also, language skill acquisition and vocabulary building can also be reinforced by utilizing modern tools like the use of DVDs, CDs tapes and videos, aside from the traditional tools like books and other teaching materials.
     Moreover, a regular visit to the country where the minor language could be learned through immersion could be a worthwhile and valuable experience for the child.
     All in all, teaching children a second language will never be a problem because physiologically, children adapt quickly well with any new language.
     Blending well with a new community however is another story.

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