Anyone was raised as a bilingual or currently raise kid as a bilingual? Any tip, advice, things to avoid? My wife and I are both immigrants and would love to raise our kid to be fluent in both languages (english and vietnamese).

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I was raised bilingual in the US and am now also raising my kid bilingual. I am fluent- can speak, read and write Chinese, unlike 99% of my Chinese American peer group. If you’re both serious about it. Here’s what my parents did successfully and what you need to do: - The both of you need to ONLY speak in Vietnamese with your child. And to each other. Practically 100% of the time. For their entire lives. That’s what the experts say to do, to reinforce the idea to your child that they only speak in a certain language to this person. And to build their language skills when they listen to the two of you. - This is both very simple and difficult. Your child will want to speak English to you, or to their future siblings, so you need to enforce it. My parents pretended not to understand anything in English, so that I believed as a young child that my parents don’t know English. - Have very clear rules and explain to them as soon as they start to understand. We only speak Vietnamese at home. No speaking English to your siblings. We only speak English in front of each other in very rare circumstances, namely if we’re all in a conversation with someone else who doesn’t speak Vietnamese (such as a parent-teacher conference). - The minute you let your kids speak English to you is the beginning of the end. I grew up in a Chinese American neighborhood with many friends who could speak Chinese and they all gradually lost it as they grew up and their parents became lax about it. Now NONE of them speak Chinese to their parents. - Your kid will learn English quickly and easily from their environs and once they enter preschool/kindergarten. I didn’t know English when I first went to preschool and picked it up super quickly. Your kid will be the same. And they’ll have the benefit of not having an Asian accent, which many Asian Americans do. - Send your kids to a Vietnamese language school if it’s an option in order to learn the language properly for as many years as possible. It’s not just about reading and writing Vietnamese, it’s about learning vocabulary and culture and history too. Things you don’t learn by just speaking at home. I have some friends who can speak what I call baby Chinese, because all they know are household phrases but they can’t have a deep conversation. I went to Chinese school for TWELVE years. - Immerse them in a Vietnamese media environment. This is pretty easy nowadays. Show them TV shows and movies and music in Vietnamese. Read them bedtime stories in Vietnamese. Sing them lullabies in Vietnamese. I pretty much only watched Chinese language media in the early years 0-6 yrs and predominantly 7-13 yrs. My parents would sit me down in front of the Chinese language news broadcast every day, for example, and we would watch as a family. - Take them to Vietnam regularly and often. My parents saved and prioritized taking me to see my grandparents in China every two years at least. It’s easier now with airfare being cheaper. This way, your kids will have a connection with family they can all speak Vietnamese with and appreciate its value. They’ll also have the experience of finding it useful in Vietnam, when they can read signs, etc. and speak to everyone in Vietnamese. - The bottom line: it’s all up to the two of you. Kids are very flexible and they won’t find it hard, if the rules and expectations are clear. It’s the parents who become lax. You have to believe in why you’re doing it, why it’s important. And understand that your child 20 years from now will thank you. When they know a second language fluently. I’m so grateful to my parents for being firm about only speaking Chinese at home and being fluent now. While many of my friends who can’t speak Chinese wish that their parents had forced them to. And many of my friend’s parents are envious of my parents/family being able to communicate to me in Chinese with absolutely no language barrier whatsoever, which becomes very important in adult conversation discussing adult topics.

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It’s definitely a real commitment, but doable! It is always hard to maintain a minority language in the country that predominantly speaks another language. You’re swimming against the tide. So you have to be deliberate in your choices and commitment to it. Most immigrants would like to pass on their native language, but are too laissez-faire about it, so it doesn’t happen. Yes much easier to do with a Chinese-speaking partner because then you can maintain a Chinese-only home. If only one of you can speak Chinese, it’s still possible but enforcement needs to be stricter because the child will want to speak English vs. Chinese to both parents. So you have to really stand firm with the “You can only speak Chinese to this parent.” And you need to increase their interaction with other Chinese speakers or media exposure in order to improve their vocabulary range and other language skills.

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I caught the language bug. English / French / mandarin / family vietnamese and Cantonese / conversational Spanish + some German Vietnamese at home, didn’t study it. Do wish I had learned. My dad was obsessed, obsessed with me learning Chinese. Did Chinese summer camp in Taipei and that really did it for me, tried many terrible and some fun but not effective schemes. On top of the last few really strong suggestions, I think the big tip is to ignite their passion and love for the language. Honestly, I got out of Chinese Sunday school because I told my Vietnamese mom that it was torture - and it was. I went to catholic school and then had to learn about god in chinese on Sunday. Too much. But in my dads obsession he tried more creative ways to hook me - visiting Taipei really got me hooked into the culture, traveling, needing to use the language. Which became more motivating than all the parent driven stuff. We only spoke Vietnamese at home, and honestly I felt for a while that I only spoke Vietnamese because my parents loved yelling at me in it. More my own thing, but if it becomes a chore there’s some psychology that gets attached to it.

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main tip: if you are in an english speaking country, you dont need to worry about teaching them english, they will pick it up naturally. in the formative years, it is important to emphasize vietnamese only at home as this is likely the only place they will speak and listen in another language. For vietnamese literacy, likely you’ll need to send them to extra classes. good luck!

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My parents were immigrants so they couldnt speak English. I learned their native tongue and English at the same time and had no accent growing up

So I grew up trilingual (Mandarin/French/English). I think the key was: 1. If living in an English dominant country - don’t worry about it. 2. Do not speak/write any language other than your mother tongue at home (mandarin) + go to “Saturday/weekend school in for your mother tongue” - I started at 5 and went all the way until university 3. I went to school exclusively in the third language (French) from pre-k all the way till grade 12

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Bilingual kid here! (Chinese and English) Coming from a very subjective perspective, I really wish that I were more fluent in mandarin and the other dialogues my family knows. Instead what I felt was shame and embarrassment trying to speak mandarin to my mom growing up bc she’d criticize every slip up I made. So like encourage your kid to keep speaking the language at home and to relatives and really try not to critique them when they mess up to the point where they don’t even wanna try anymore.

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Duly noted! Also sorry to hear about your situation

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It is hard to raise a kid bilingual in the US. I had a Chinese nanny with our first born. His mandarin was very good until he went to preschool. Then he became embarrassed to speak Chinese. But we are picking up mandarin again via tutor, he is actually very good with the accent and grammar. I think the early foundation by the nanny really helped! Not to mention he is a big fan of our Asian flavored cuisine!

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What a different experience on curating 2 languages.. reading this, I am so grateful for my stay at home mother, who did nothing but teach, support, and encourage us in our language and heritage. I gotta call her!

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I’m multi-lingual - two dialects of Chinese and Vietnamese. For Vietnamese, as much exposure as possible to the language is helpful because I find that the sounds and tones are harder for me to distinctly make as I get older. I get compliments on my pronunciation when I speak Vietnamese, but I wish my parents had drilled me on basics as a kid. A good example - when I try to say “ngu” I make it sound like “noo.”

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I was fluent in my mom’s dialect, Visayan, which is a Filipino dialect. Sadly growing up as a minority kid in a small suburb, I started responding to my mom in English when we moved to the US and eventually lost it. I can understand enough to get by but regret being shy and not owning my multi language skills at the time. Lesson learned: encourage kids to be proud of their culture and knowing more than one language is an incredible gift (and bada$$!) Also, best to have them respond to you in languages outside of English to keep practicing so they don’t lose it.

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I am raising my kid as multi lingual, I am from India and from non Hindi state so taught my kid Hindi and Tamil and now obviously he is fluent in English as well. It’s important that we encourage kids to speak their mother tongue and even though they sound American not criticize them. I am confident that on growing up if my son has to visit India he would have no problems conversing with locals.

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D2 - hope they are helpful ☝️

Viet TV shows it is!

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Yea watching chinese tv and movies helped alot. For kids they likely have cartoons and kids shows in your native language you could find on internet. Normally want to minimize too much screen time but this is helpful

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Agree with all of the above. It’s critical to stay viet at home. I was raised in a Chinese household and was fluent for a week until I met neighbor kids that spoke English. I switched and never went back. I was forced to go to Chinese school and learned the basic letter and numbers, and the sounds. It was not reinforced at home, nor was I forced to speak it. I look Asian but that’s about it. I can’t read, I have difficulty speaking above basic greetings. It’s very difficult to think in Chinese unless I’m immersed and then it comes around a bit more.

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I’m raised bilingual: Dutch and Vietnamese. I’d say the biggest regret for me is that I haven’t learned as much Vietnamese from my parents as I wish I had. Don’t worry about English if your kid is going to speak that at school etc. Make sure that you keep on speaking Vietnamese to your kid and also make sure that he/she answers in Vietnamese as well

Grew up learning English and Vietnamese. Mom was a teacher back in Vietnam and tried to teach me here but I was too distracted and didn’t see the benefit of learning at the time. Having a friend/group of friends/community that I could have used it with (that I liked****) would have helped. I went to Vietnamese school for a few weeks but no one there was intent on learning so it wasn’t effective.

i know 4 languages. but my chinese is horrible, coz i only learnt it from school despite being born in a chinese family.

Very tough unless your both speaking it at home with each other.

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