Raising a bilingual child

I can read, write and speak three languages and so can my husband. We were taught these languages at school and we just know them. In fact almost everybody in India can speak at least two languages and many people can easily speak 4 or 5. That is very common.

Now, we are raising our son here in the US where English is the most common language. As my son has been with me until now and not going to daycare, he can speak very fluent Telugu (our mother tongue) and we are very happy about it. But, when we go out, he has problems understanding when others talk to him. So, I started teaching him English so that he does not have a problem communicating. But, my fear is that he might just forget our language and speak only English. I have seen this happen to many Indian kids born and raised in the US. I always thought and still think that parents need to make an effort to raise bilingual kids here in the US.

We decided that no matter what, we will make sure Sarath won’t forget Telugu. He will learn English once he starts preschool or kindergarten. He can learn as many languages as he wants to, we are not going to let him forget our language. We have already started making efforts in this direction when he started talking. We only spoke to him in Telugu all along. Now, that we are teaching him English, we still keep emphasizing Telugu all day.

We let him watch English DVD’s so that he will pick up the language but, also play the Telugu DVD’s and songs so that he remembers his mother tongue. When ever we teach him a new word in English, we also teach him what we say that in Telugu. He is actually doing very good. Now, he knows that there are two languages (good enough for a 2 year old).

Yesterday I was teaching him colors and told him the names of colors in both languages. He is picking up very fast. He is already understanding a lot of English and still talks Telugu with me and his dad. Let’s hope we can continue this trend and eventually he will speak both the languages with ease.

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