5 Little “Why nots” & 3 BIG “Whys” to Teach Your Kid Russian!

I am Russian. And now I live in America. And I have a toddler. And one of the most common questions I am asked is “Does he speak both Russian AND English?” Well, yes. Sort of. He’s two so it’s really just one language, a strange and captivating mix of English and Russian: sometimes he uses one, some other times the other, and sometimes it’s both mushed together. And I don’t think it’s hard for him at all. I think it’s harder on me because it’s me who ends up trying to decipher what on Earth he’s trying to say because putting aside the fact that he oftentimes mixes two language at whim he also mispronounces and mutilates words as his mouth deems fit. Again, he’s two. That is completely natural. And I’m just learning with every other parent that all kids are different and learn everything at their own pace regardless of their parents’ expectations.

So one may ask, why would I want to torture both of us by teaching my kid a second language that no one ever really uses here? Well, aside from it being extremely cool and awesome, I believe that learning a second (or third, of fourth, or n-th) language is beneficial on many levels. For instance:

  1. Learning languages is a great developmental activity and makes people of all ages smarter, that is keeps the brain engaged and active.
  2. He’ll be able to speak to my friends and relatives back in Russia who don’t speak English.
  3. He’ll able to read many pieces of fantastic classical literature in the language that it was written (if he chooses to).

Russia is the biggest country in the world (territory wise) and is an economical force to be reckoned with. One never knows how things will be in the future. Learning foreign languages is always beneficial for one’s career no matter what they are.

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With facts listed and well-known by many people whether through the word of mouth or through the research and testimonies of scientists and educators (see a list of interesting articles here), there are still many people out there who choose to not teach their children their native languages. Why? Well, it may be difficult to explain for sure but some of the more popular reason to “WHY NOT” include:

  1. “We live in America. He’ll never use it here.”
  2. “I don’t have time for this.”
  3. “It’s hard to buy resources.”
  4. “I’m afraid my kid will be confused.”
  5. “My child will be delayed in his or her development.”

And that’s only a starter list. But! I’d advise to think about it again. You don’t have to make it hard. Sometimes all that is needed is a parent talking to their toddler in the second language of their choice from birth. That means that the biggest part of what you actually need to do is talk. Talk, talk, talk. That also means that questions like “What do you want to eat for lunch?”, “Should we read this book?”, “Would you like to go to the park?” and so on so forth, everything daily and seemingly unimportant could be asked in Russian. You, a native Russian speaker, definitely know how to do that. And it applies to everyone who speaks more than one language. It doesn’t have to be Russian!

So now that you’re encouraged to introduce your child to the wonderful world of bi-lingual (or multi-lingual) living, get out there and speak. But if you still have questions left, feel free to head over to our Q & A section on raising a bi-lingual child or visit our resources page for ideas on where and how to obtain materials to help your kid learn Russian! Good luck!

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