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I am posting this knowing the danger it may be closed. There are many helpful posts on this website covering multilingualism for children, e.g. this one. However, I want to educate myself in-depth on the subject. Hence, my question:

"What sources or books are there out there to help a parent in teaching their native language to their kid?"

I have found many links on "multilingualism and parenting" on the web, such as this one. Unfortunately, most of the coverage in the suggested books is on the benefits of speaking multiple languages...

My intentions are not academic. I am already sold, I do not need convincing. I want to know "how", not "why". I need a practitioner's guide. What (paid or unpaid) sources have you found useful?

Any recommendations very welcome.

  • out of curiosity can you order educational materials from your home country in your native language? – Adam Heeg May 7 at 21:41
  • @AdamHeeg, yes i can order story books, etc. My child is 15 months old so the language the books are written is irrelevant. I usually make up the story (looking at the pictures in an English book) in my own language. – Zhubarb May 8 at 7:47
  • Your question seems bizarre to me, but maybe that is because of some false assumptions I am holding about the situation. Are you a parent with a child? Are you the native speaker? What is the age of the child? – Douglas Held May 9 at 10:01
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    @DouglasHeld Yes, i am the native (non-English) speaker parent, living in the UK. My child is 15 months old, beginning to talk. – Zhubarb May 9 at 10:06
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For young children, these are the general ways to approach it:

  1. Adults in the house speaking the language. If this is a new language for the household, atleast one adult should learn along with the child. This will provide support and practice for the child.

  2. Find local classes for the language. It is possible to find classes for a lot of classes especially in large metropolitan areas. They provide peer group and structure to learning. Otherwise, it may be necessary to hire a tutor (maybe online tutor if you cannot find one locally).

  3. Visit the cultural region the language is associated with, if and when possible.

  4. Enjoy the music, TV shows, movies of the said language.

Note that language learning takes a long time. Commit to spending at least 30mins practicing the language everyday for 2-3 years before seeing progress.

  • +1 for just speaking around the child is just the best thing to do. For more formal education, you can find local classes or, like my mom did, buy language workbooks that are appropriate for your kid's level of proficiency and work through them with your kid. My mom was a teacher though so your mileage may vary. – jcmack May 7 at 20:39
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the way we do it is the Russian speaking mother only speaks Russian to the child. This started since birth; mom has never spoken English to the child.

At age 4.5, she can only stutter through a couple words of mispronounced Russian, but she can always understand Mama. Assuming you are only starting at 15 months, you may want to expect weaker results. Or, if your child will be 100% in your care, maybe stronger results.

It honestly never occurred to me that anyone might write a book or make a video explaining how to teach your child to speak.

By the way there is a bilingual mums group on Facebook that my wife finds very helpful for general support.

  • Thank you, this is one of the (more practical) books I have been recommended: "Bringing up a Bilingual-Child" – Zhubarb May 10 at 8:03
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We did not do the wise thing of having one parent, or even just grandparents, speaking exclusively our native language to our child. As a result my son now knows only a few words.

However, i do plan to bring some videos and educational computer-games in my native language into the household. After all most people outside the anglosphere learn the English language through tv and games. And children's books too, when he learns how to read. I will update the answer when i have some results.

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