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Bilingual Children – Growing up in Turkey

8th January 2015


As a foreigner living in Turkey, there can be times where things seem difficult, but when you bring your children into it the decisions can become more complicated. The worry and fears you may experience of your child attending school or nursery in Turkey is multiplied with the language barrier.

However, growing up with multiple languages is the easiest, fastest, and most effortless way to learn a foreign language.

It is said that the younger children are, the faster and more fluently they learn a new language.

At the age of 3 or 4 is the best time for children to grasp and retain languages. So providing that the conditions for language learning are present, by the time they are 5, they will be fluent Turkish speakers and they can get right on with school.

So rest assured your child can become bilingual.

So what are the benefits of growing up bilingual?

In general, bilingual children demonstrate better reading and writing skills when compared to those who speak just one language. They also tend to have over all superior analytical, social, and academic skills.

Research supports that bilingual children have a better-developed linguistic understanding. So if your child ever wants to study more languages later in life, he/she will have a head start.

Speaking Turkish and growing up in a diverse culture as Turkey means that your child will have a better understanding of cultural differences and develop an appreciation for other cultures. 

Your child will have a head start in school. In most countries, a foreign language is mandatory. Also, later on in life the career prospects of your child will be multiplied, as people who know more than one language have more options. 

Should I send my child to a local Turkish nursery/school?

If you decide to send your child to a Turkish school rather than an international one then this will mean that they have a high exposer to the Turkish language.Experts state that Children need to be exposed to a different language for at least 30 percent of their waking hours to become bilingual

Does learning a second language mean losing your first language?

This has been well researched and proven from study’s of various bilingual families from around the world that children can cope with two languages or more without affecting their primary language. Including the many bilingual counties where speaking fluently in more than one language is common - such as Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and Finland. You will have to arrange extra tuition for your child’s primary language so they can still learn valuable speaking, reading and writing skills.

What if my child mixes up the languages?

Mixing up both Turkish and your child’s primary language is normal. It is a process of learning and it will be only temporary. As the child increases his/her vocabulary in each language, this will no longer be an issue. 

Is it ever too late for my child to become bilingual?

Children can always learn another language at any age. Obviously, it is easier for a child to learn a new langue the younger they are. It is believed that learning a new language becomes more difficult for a child at the age of 9/10. 

It is always a good idea to create as much stimulating learning environment as possible that will jump start your child’s understanding of Turkish.

Remember that children do not have the same worries as adults, if they pronounce a word wrong they will carry on without embarrassment. They will generally throw themselves into it, making friends, reading books and learning songs and above all they are not afraid of making mistakes.  

Learning Turkish may well be difficult, but as long as you and your child have commitment, application and confidence it will be easily achieved. There is no doubt that bilingual children have more advantages. Your extra effort will give them a valuable skill they'll use in numerous ways for the rest of their lives.



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