Adam Beck, author of the widely-praised book ‘Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability: Ideas and inspiration for even greater success and joy raising bilingual kids’, is the founder of the popular blog Bilingual Monkeys and the lively forum The Bilingual Zoo. He is originally from the USA and lives in Hiroshima, Japan with his Japanese wife and two bilingual children.
We asked Adam what his simple formula to success was:
‘Success at raising bilingual children can be reduced to a simple formula: Exposure + Need = Bilingual Ability.
When these two “core conditions” are satisfied—when the child receives sufficient exposure to the two languages and feels a genuine need to use both—nature will work its magic and do the rest. The result, in time, is the desired outcome: active bilingual ability.
This process may be simple, but it’s hardly easy. What to do is straightforward, but how to do it—how to provide ample support for the child’s minority language side on a continuous basis—is deeply demanding. That’s why I’ve written so much about this subject: to help parents strengthen their efforts, day by day, and experience greater success and joy over the years of childhood.
In Japanese, the word “en” can be roughly translated as “fate.” For parents seeking to raise bilingual children, the word is a fitting acronym because exposure (e) to the minority language, and need (n) for its use, will ultimately decide the “en” or “fate” of the family’s bilingual journey.
To shape the fate you wish, give conscious and concerted effort to addressing, from day one whenever possible, the core conditions of exposure and need in the minority language. In the end, it’s this simple formula that lies at the very heart of fostering—and maximizing—a child’s bilingual ability.
You can find out more about how to raise a child bilingually with Adam’s book here.