When raising multilingual children there are so many options to choose from, that it can sometimes be overwhelming to find the best fit for your family. There is definitely no one-size-fits-all approach to such a complex process and a lot of it depends on the languages being spoken as well as the dynamic, not only between parents and children, but also the cultures and how they relate to them. If you’re new to the whole concept of raising multilingual children, you’re not alone. Several Bébé Voyage staffers are also working through this and to help other families out, we’re taking a look at the different ways that parents can begin or pivot their approach to making more than one language an everyday part of their lives. This week we are looking at the ‘time and place’ strategy.
What is the time and place strategy?
Parents who use the time and place strategy make conscious decisions to separate the languages they speak to their kids by time or place, sometimes both.
- Giving clear times for each language, like one language during the day and one during the evening.
A good way of dividing time, especially if kids go to school is by using one language during the week and one during the weekend.
Some parents like to use one language at home and one language outside.
Having specific home-rooms dedicated to one language or another.
Is the time and place strategy right for you?
It is always hard to figure out which strategy works better for you and your family, so here are some pointers to see if this particular one might be right for you:
- You speak multiple languages in your household, and would rather keep them separate instead of having to switch between the two.
You are trying to balance exposure to each language.
Parents who don’t understand their partner’s language might find this strategy as a great compromise and a way to not be left out of conversations.
Monolingual parents might find this strategy works best for them for example by speaking one language at home but sending the kids to full immersion schools.
If you are not fluent in a language, this approach might suit you better as you can plan ahead.
What to look out for
It is not as popular as the one parent one language, or the mixing language strategies, and that is because it is mostly down to creating the right routine. Commitment is key here. You will have to always make sure that you are using the right language at the time and place you have allocated for it. Things will become more automatic with time, but surely at the beginning, you will have to stick with it.
You might also find that balancing exposure to all the languages might not come easily and some languages might not get enough opportunities to be practiced properly. This doesn’t mean that this method will not work for you, just go back to the drawing board, plan, and start again.
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This is fascinating Marta! It had never occurred to me to do time and place with kids. My husband and I used to do a different language each weekday (and an “immersion” on the weekends), but we haven’t really been doing that now that our eldest is more conversant and awake more of the time !
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