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Tetsu Yung

Skillful Management of Children’s Emotions is Key to Raising Multilingual Kids Successfully

Description: Parents often ask about how to teach children a language when they refuse to speak it. This is an extremely difficult situation to which experts do not have a definitive answer, and they often offer solutions that basically boil down to: Be creative, don’t use force, and/or reduce your expectations. Given the severity of this situation, in our family, we have been trying our very best to avoid finding ourselves in that situation altogether by carefully managing our children’s emotions. Thus far, none of our 4 children, ages 8, 6, 3, and 0, has ever refused to speak any of the 5 languages (English, French, Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish) that we are raising them in. Here, I will share our thought process, along with some of our strategies and outcomes so far. In addition, I will tell you why, at 8 years old, we are already very close to reaching our language objectives for our first child, Ronnie.

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14 Comments

  • Yunn28 says:

    Nice talk and such lovely family! Very useful tips on language learning even for adults 🙂

  • Tetsu Yung says:

    Hi @Klara,
    I think you’re right, we go as far as we can, and it is ok if the kids don’t get to my goals, it will still have been worth it! 😉

  • Tetsu Yung says:

    Hi @Shulgi,
    Thanks so much for your kind words!

  • Klara says:

    Cool! Great insights! Will see what I can apply with my kids when I have them — although I don’t even know yet which language I will end up speaking to them…

    I want to assure you that even if some of your goals don’t work out, in the end it all turns out OK in adulthood when you’ve given them this basis; growing up with 4 languages, my parents didn’t have a language policy as conscious as yours, but we all ended up fine and now (at 25) I speak 8.

    For example they didn’t care that we learn Esperanto or not, but since we heard them speak it to each other and with friends, we ended up automatically learning it (a very common thing with Esperanto natives, actually, it just kind of happens “on the side”). My dad didn’t protest when we switched from speaking Hungarian to Dutch with him and later to French; he just kept on speaking Hungarian to us no matter what, and as an adult I consciously sought out a way to improve my Hungarian and reconnect to that part of the family. Even if stuff doesn’t work or reverses (especially in adolescence), if your kids associate their languages and cultures with good experiences, as they mature they will find out what matters to them and re-teach themselves what has been lost or neglected.

    <3

  • Shulgi says:

    Awesome! Thank you very much! It gives one more reason to look forward to raising our children

  • Tetsu Yung says:

    @AndrewGibleinJapan
    Thanks for your kind words!

  • Tetsu Yung says:

    @Yitsong
    一次就來幾個吧!買一送一!

  • Love seeing your story and your family Testsu-san. Thanks for sharing.

  • Yitsong Wen says:

    学习之后。。我先去生个娃来试一下。嘻嘻

  • Tetsu Yung says:

    So happy to see your nice comments!

  • Arisu says:

    This is amazing, thank you so much for the insight!

  • Thank you for sharing such a delightful and enriching way to develop your family!

  • Tetsu Yung says:

    Thanks so much Claudia65!

  • Claudia65 says:

    A lovely multilingual family. Very inspirational. Keep sharing your experiences. <3

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