Children who have the ability to speak a language other than English, if properly nurtured, will be benefitted throughout their lives. Unless parents and teachers actively encourage maintenance of the child's native language, the child is in danger of losing it and losing the benefits of bilingualism.
Maintaining the native language matters mainly for three reasons:
Emotions - A child’s first language becomes critical to his or her identity. Maintaining this language then becomes crucial to his or her personal and cultural development, as it contributes to creating a sense of self-concept. With continued encouragement, interactions within the family using the native language will gradually help foster strong community ties.
Academics - A child’s intellectual development is at its best when the child and parents are conversing in their native language. When children who aren’t yet fluent in English switch to using only English, they are often found to be functioning at an intellectual level below their age. Hence, using native language as the medium of communication will contribute to them working at their actual level of intellectual maturity.
Connections - A child’s connection between his native language and English will only be strong if his native language is strong first. Children will then be able to use their transferring skills to transfer their prior knowledge from their native language to English quite easily. With a lot of practice in this area, the child’s fluency and speed when switching between 2 languages will also increase.
To learn more about the importance of talking to your child in your native language, click on the link below.