We know we made the right choice enrolling our children in a Dual Language program (usually!) but that doesn't mean we don't come across road blocks. But it doesn't take much to take the edge off and make things easier for you and your Dual Language Learner. Here are 5 quick tips for making things just a little bit easier.
It will take some time for the child to warm up to their new program. Especially if your child enrolled in Kindergarten, it will be hard to adjust to so many new things at once. Take a moment to remind yourself your child is learning - even if it seems like your climbing a mountain, good things are happening. I promise! For most kids, they will go all of Kinder and not seem to know more than a few words. It doesn't mean it's not working. For both of my girls, it was around 2nd grade before I really felt like they were well on their way to bilingualism. Even now, in 3rd and 5th, they still struggle at times - especially with conversation. But we take a deep breath, and Spanish on. 😃
Although I have many days (most days?) when I just don't feel like dealing with... well, anything (!) I know I gotta stick it out. The same is true with your DLL's language learning. Daily repetition and practice are key to fluency. But it doesn't have to be so hard really. Find triggers to help remind you to encourage the language.
And, you don't need to know Spanish to encourage them to speak it -- eating dinner? Ask them to teach you how to say words or phrases related to the meal. Time for bath? Put on some Spanish-language music for them to jam while bathing. What you do isn't necessarily important. It's that you do it consistently.
Make it a Family Affair
There are many ways to encourage the whole family to participate in the language learning. It's important to help you DLL see that you're all there for her and participating in the process together. Try playing a bilingual board game, or playing some Spanish-language music during dinner. You could have DLL teach and then quiz younger siblings on words or phrases. Just be sure everyone is on board and participating and before you know it, the fun will be greater than the work.
Find a Community
I can't tell you how valuable our school community has been for us. When we started 6 years ago, Facebook wasn't really a place for classroom groups as it is today. We met up at fundraising nights and PTA meetings and shared laughs and gripes about homework and tests and tips on apps and websites that could help. Now you can find that same community spirit on social media. Join a group like our Dual Language Family the FB group and connect with other parents. Or reach out to your child's teacher and coordinate a family night if the school doesn't have one. Find a group of like minded families that can be a great sounding board when you need it most.
Make it a Priority
No matter how else you feel about Dual Language, I am confident this is a priority for you. No parent signs up for their child to be immersed in another language without seriously considering this a valuable asset and understanding the value. Be sure to LET YOUR CHILD KNOW. Tell them that this is a priority for you and how much you value it. Talk as a family about what this means to you -- not just academic or career value, but emotional value. Talk about your pride in him and take a moment to find pride in the process itself. He wrote up his first full page essay? Did a presentation on Ab Lincoln? Finished his first chapter book? You may not understand any of it because you don't speak the language, but that doesn't mean you can't appreciate the moment. Go ahead and get some cupcakes!