Raising kids in more than one language?

Researchers want to find ways to help parents be successful at this sometimes challenging task

Raising an infant or toddler with more than one language can be an exciting, uncertain and complex task.

Researchers from McGill, Concordia and the Mercator Research Centre (who study early language development) are focusing their research on this topic. They want to provide scientific answers to the questions and concerns you have about supporting your child’s language development.

As a first step, they want learn about parents’ thoughts, attitudes, insights and experiences raising a bi/multilingual child.  This mainly Montreal-based group has therefore launched a new project that is designed to learn from parents, one of the key stakeholders when it comes to language acquisition.

Phase one of the project took place in 2019. The team interviewed small groups of parents with very young children (birth to 3 years of age) who are being raised with more than one language.  This included a wide range of bi/multilingual language families (English-French, English-Other, French-Other, and English-French-Other).

The information gathered from these focus groups was used to develop an online questionnaire to survey a larger and more diverse sample of families across the province. The survey is designed to identify steps that parents take to support their child’s language development, and to identify questions and concerns that parents face when raising a child to be a successful communicator in more than one language.

Researchers hope that the findings will lead to future projects and measures that will help families who are raising bi/multilingual children. For example, by understanding the language strategies that families use, they can investigate how these affect children’s language learning.

Moreover, all participants will have the option to enter a raffle for a $50 Amazon gift card and will receive a report on the survey findings.

The survey is short – it only takes about 15 minutes – and responses will remain anonymous. To learn more and to participate in the survey, click here.