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Want to Raise a Bilingual Child? Remember This: You Get What You Pay For.

Want to Raise a Bilingual Child? Remember This: You Get What You Pay For.

I won’t bore you with the details, but over the past couple of months, I’ve had continuous troubles with many parts of my digital life, and especially email. In fact, last week my entire email account for Bilingual Monkeys ( suddenly disappeared from my computer, with thousands and thousands of messages vanishing in a matter of moments. (Fortunately, I was able to locate a back-up folder and restore most of them, but still, it was a long and distressing day.)

So if you haven’t received a message from me lately—whether a personal reply to an email you sent or one of my regular newsletters—it’s because I’ve been struggling with this problem of unreliable email. At this point, I hope (I pray) that it’s working properly again. I apologize for the inconvenience, but if you sent a message to me recently, and never received a reply, could you please try once more?

Thinking of the bilingual aim

At the same time, it’s also true that some of these troubles are connected to my aging computer. The desktop PC that I’ve been using for over 8 years has been a real workhorse, but I know it’s now wise to consider replacing it and remaking my digital life in new ways.

Here’s the thing: During my research for a new computer (I’m looking at laptops, in particular), I’ve continually come across the expression “You get what you pay for.” And by the fourth or fifth time I heard someone say this, I couldn’t help thinking of the bilingual aim as well.

The level of your “investment”

I’m not really referring to money, though, when I say that “You get what you pay for” can also describe the process of raising a bilingual child. What I mean is that, broadly speaking, the level of your “investment” in your child’s language development during the early years—through the time you give and the efforts you make—will eventually result in a corresponding level of ability in that language. In other words, the greater your “investment,” the greater your child’s progress will be. (Okay, I know the analogy with money isn’t perfect—because a less-expensive thing could still be of good quality—but I’m afraid it’s unlikely that a low “investment” in a child’s language development will produce a high level of proficiency.)

It’s important to stress this idea, I think, because parents of small children, who aren’t yet communicating much in the minority language, can sometimes wonder if the time and efforts they’re expending on their bilingual aim will truly pay off. Recently, in fact, I’ve had this very conversation with a couple of different parents, in different parts of the world, who expressed similar concerns about the “investment” that they’re making:

Will all these efforts really result in success?

And I responded in this way:

Yes, they will. You just have to keep going and continue being as mindful and proactive as you can from day to day. And if you do, you’ll surely generate the kind of steady progress over time, as your child grows and matures, that will gradually result in the satisfying success that you seek.

A reminder for parents

So, you see, “You get what you pay for” not only applies to computers and other sorts of products. It’s also a reminder for parents with a bilingual (or multilingual) aim to make the strongest “investment” possible, from as early as possible, in order to foster the strongest possible outcome through the childhood years. :mrgreen:

Want more important reminders?

Get my special PDF 19 Vital Reminders for Bilingual and Multilingual Success, a crystal-clear blueprint for successfully raising bilingual and multilingual children.


4 Responses

  1. What a fabulous and symbolic catch-phrase, Adam! You definitely get what you pay for. It’s been almost 7 years since we began our trilingual journey and yes, results come with the level of investment. For the first 4 years, we reaped very little results for our very high balanced trilingual-triliterate aim. Only over the last 3 years, since we have become persistently proactive on a daily basis has the “return on investment” started flowing.

    1. Amy, you get a standing ovation for your tremendous efforts! This “investment” in your children’s language development is not only empowering your own family to achieve your trilingual aim, it’s inspiring the efforts of other parents as they seek to realize their bilingual or multilingual goal for their children.

  2. Thanks so much for your continued focus and reminders in keeping faith and steadily keeping at it! We are only 1 year into the bilingual journey, but your guidance via your book and blog has been extremely helpful from the beginning – I cannot wait to see how our little one will evolve.

    1. Margit, many thanks for your kind words. I’m really glad to hear that my work has been a source of support for your family’s bilingual journey. Do keep in touch and let me know what happens as your little one becomes a big one! And don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of any additional help!

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Welcome to Bilingual Monkeys!

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 popular books Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability and Bilingual Success Stories Around the World. I’ve been an educator and writer in this field for 25 years as well as the parent of two bilingual children, now 19 and 16. I hope my work can help empower the success of your bilingual journey.

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