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Raising Multilingual Children: Will They Face Difficulties?



Reply Date

Feb 19, 2019


As-Salamu Aleikom. I am not sure whether you would be able to answer my question, but my problem is that my children already learn and speak mashallah 3 languages as their mother tongues, but we live in Germany where they will obviously need to learn the German language. In addition, by the age of 6, they will need to learn English. How can I help them to learn all these languages? I am worried they will have difficulties.



Raising Multilingual Children: Will They Have Difficulties?

In this counseling answer:

Often when children are raised in a multilingual atmosphere, they may be slow to learn at first, but they eventually do catch up and excel. The counselor advises to encourage them to use the languages around the home so they become familiar with using different languages in real life situations.

Wa ‘Alaikum Salaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Ma sha’ Allah, it is a great skill to be able to speak multiple languages, especially at a young age. This will prove to be very useful for them in life.

It is understandable why it might cause you concern that they might find things difficult learning so many languages. You don’t want them to face any challenges or struggles.

Often when children are raised in an atmosphere like this, they may be slow to learn at first, but this generally does not cause any concern. They eventually do catch up and excel. This might be difficult for you at first if you feel like your children are behind other children of their age, but with patience, you will see the benefits. Ultimately, when they are adults, they will be in an excellent position having mastered at least three languages. Having learned these languages from such a young age will make it even easier for them in the future to learn new languages – more so than a child who has only been raised with a single language.

Raising Multilingual Children: Will They Face Difficulties? - About Islam

As Muslims, this will be especially useful when it comes to learning the Qur’an. You will likely find that they will pick up the Arabic language and memorize the Qur’an very quickly as they become accustomed to learning new languages.

Understand as well that children learn very fast. As adults, we often underestimate our children’s abilities. In fact, you will likely even find that they are even better than you as an adult at learning a new language quickly!

Whilst I can’t advise on the technicalities of the best way to actually teach them languages, I can give advice on how to potentially make the process easier and less stressful for you.

Firstly, be patient with them. They may appear to behind at first, but they will catch up and often take over! If you become impatient with them, they may come to dislike learning new languages and withdraw from it altogether.

Check out this counseling video

They might have bad associations with learning new languages which will not be conducive to them learning effectively.

Take your time with them and don’t put undue pressure on them.

Create a positive learning environment for them focusing on the positives. Reward them when they learn something new or make progress in their learning.

Make it as fun as possible so that they enjoy learning and desire to continue to learn.

Perhaps if they have workbooks that they are working from, have stickers that you can use to reward a complete piece of work.

Give them an element of control by letting them control which topic they want to cover. For example, do they want to learn colors or animals today?

Integrate it into daily life, encourage them to use the language around the home so they become familiar with using different languages in real life situations.

Take a break so they don’t become overwhelmed – both during a session where you might be teaching them as well as taking a full day or two off learning at all. At the same time, also make sure that they are regularly practising.

May Allah (swt) make it easy for you and your children. May He give you the patience to effectively teach them this very useful and beneficial skill of languages.



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Hannah Morris

Hannah Morris is a mum of 4 and she currently works as Counsellor and Instructor of BSc. Psychology at the Islamic Online University (IOU). She obtained her MA degree in Psychology and has over 10 years of experience working in health and social care settings in the UK, USA, and Ireland. Check out her personal Facebook page, ActiveMindCare, that promotes psychological well-being in the Ummah. (www.facebook.com/activemindcare)

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