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Parents Trying to Raise Bilingual Children: Stop Confusing Your Poor Kids with Two Languages!

Letters to the Editor

Note: I received this message the other day from “A Concerned Citizen” and thought it might be of interest.

Dear Parents Trying to Raise Bilingual Children:

I may know nothing at all about bilingualism, but it’s clear to me that trying to teach your poor children two languages at the same time will only confuse them and cause unnecessary suffering. Even educated adults like myself find it difficult to learn a second language and you expect a mere child to attempt this tremendous feat? I studied a second language for years and today I can barely ask directions to the nearest bathroom!

If simply learning to say “Where go toilet?” made my head spin, imagine how baffling it must be for a little tot who’s still in diapers and can’t tell his passive verbs from his pacifier! A child’s brain is a small and delicate organ, and any doctor worth his degree will tell you that overstimulating the young brain with double the number of conjugations can only lead to hopeless confusion and nightly bed wetting.

Let me speak frankly: My concern is not only with your child’s personal welfare, I’m also concerned about the future of our whole society. If parents like yourselves persist on this foolhardy path, your offspring won’t learn to speak any language well. A child raised under such bewildering conditions won’t know which language to speak, and will naturally begin mumbling in a mishmash of both.

According to the Internet, scientific research has confirmed that children who mumble more than the average child end up struggling the most in school and dropping out before they even graduate. And what becomes of these troubled young people? That’s right, they start shoplifting and stealing lawn furniture and engaging in all kinds of criminal behavior!

A friend of my second cousin was mugged by one of these wayward youths who had been damaged, we must assume, by his parents’ misguided attempt to teach two languages. Fortunately, the police caught him after he ran away with her poodle. As it turns out, he was also wanted for burglary—he stole someone’s doghouse the night before! The young man was sent to prison for a few years, which you’ll surely agree is better than letting him run wild on the streets and stealing your doghouse, too. But now it’s us, the law-abiding citizens of this fine community, who are obliged to keep him there with our hard-earned tax dollars. Is that fair?

As this cautionary tale makes clear, the good intentions of well-meaning parents can go wildly, dangerously off track. I imagine, in your own misguided way, that you love your children and that you want what’s best for them. But do you really think that this path to a prison cell would be best for your little ones? I sincerely hope not.

At the same time, and more troubling, I’ve heard that some parents are purposefully using two languages with their children in order to steer them toward a life of crime and thievery. For such parents, the prospect of a free poodle and doghouse is apparently more important to them than their own children’s happiness.

Please, for the sake of your kids, and society as a whole, I urge you to abandon your reckless actions before it’s too late. Human beings, by nature, are intended to grow up speaking one language only (it’s somewhere in the Bible, I’m sure) and we all know what happens when our kind blindly meddles with the forces of nature. Disaster!

Respectfully yours,

A Concerned Citizen

P.S. I hope it’s clear that this post is a put-on. I wrote it firmly tongue-in-cheek, intended as a satirical response to those who continue to claim—against all evidence to the contrary—that raising a child with two (or more) languages will “confuse” them. The truth, of course, is that children are quite capable of acquiring, and clearly differentiating, any number of languages, as long as they receive sufficient exposure to them and feel a genuine need to use them.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like How to Fail Miserably at Raising a Bilingual Child and “I Want to Be Bilingual”: Letter from a Newborn Baby.

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7 Responses

  1. Oh no! I am a failure and hopelessly confused, a menace to society. My parents raised me a bilingual. Is there a way back from here?

  2. I was raised in like 6 languages.
    I guess I must be some kind of degenerate pedophile serial killer who puts kittens in blenders.

  3. As I read it, I was astonished to see no spelling mistakes.

    Then, I discovered you wrote it as a “put on” and “tongue-in-cheek”.

    My reply to you is from Mark Twain:
    “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

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Welcome to Bilingual Monkeys!

Adam
I’m Adam Beck, the founder of this blog and The Bilingual Zoo, a lively worldwide forum for parents raising bilingual or multilingual kids. I’m also the author of the widely-read book Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability I’ve been an educator and writer in this field for over 20 years as well as the parent of two bilingual children, now 16 and 13. I hope my work can help empower the success of your bilingual journey.

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