So there I was…casually browsing scholarly literature on raising bi/multilingual children, when University of Ottawa’s Dr. Nikolay Slavkov‘s research caught my attention. In a peer-reviewed article published by International Journal of Multilingualism (Routledge), Slavkov concludes regarding three factors related to a child’s development as an active or passive bi/multilingual.
Slavkov finds three factors to have a positive association on whether a child develops as an active or passive bi/multilingual:
- heritage-language school enrollment
- use of minority language with a sibling
- the development of literacy skills in a minority language
Slavkov writes “what these variables seem to have in common is a strong level of active commitment on the parents’ part. That is, one could argue that a higher degree of effort and time investment from the parents is necessary to help a child acquire minority language literacy, to commit to heritage-language classes on weekends, and to institute a family policy that encourages or possibly requires siblings to speak in a minority language with one another.”
Now, what about reading books and watching TV, doesn’t that teach the kids?
Slavkov finds that reading books to the child in a minority language or letting the child watch TV or engage with multimedia resources in a minority language seem to have a somewhat lower effort and time commitment value.
Yet, every little bit counts and adds up in the end.