How to Bring Up Bilingual Children?
About pros and cons of bilingualism
Inga Mangus is a woman who greatly contributed to development of programmes of teaching Russian in Estonia and a mother of two bilingual children. Within the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum, Ms. Mangus presented her speech at the session dedicated to the role of women in science. She paid attention to such issues as bringing up and educating the rising generations in families that went to live abroad. According to Inga Mangus, women play a significant role in it because mothers are the keepers of not only the family hearth but also national culture. To perform that role, it is necessary for them to have corresponding knowledge in philology, cultural studies, and history.
Inga Mangus - Chair of the Estonian Association of Teachers of Russian and Literature, founder and principal of the Russian Language School in Tallinn, PhD in Pedagogy
Today there are two main methods of teaching Russian. The first is used for children in Russia’s school, which presupposes learning the syntax and grammar. The second is used for those who learn Russian as a foreign language. This method focuses on spoken language and popular phrases. However, both of methods above do not work for children from Russian families living abroad. Bilinguals, people using two languages, require special approach in their education.
Inga Mangus described such a situation on the example of a child from a Russian family attending the national school in Estonia. At first sight, this child becomes the bearer of the enriched spiritual culture in the environment of two languages. However, there is a number of problems related to bilingualism.
For example, according to bilingualism-related studies, bilingual people have problems with their native language when they use in only in domestic situations. They forget about their roots and, as a result, personality reduction takes place.
To avoid that, it is necessary to pay much attention not only to grammar basics, but also tell the child about the culture and traditions of the home country.
“It is important to understand that a country’s culture is not only clothes, food, songs, and fairy tales but also the peculiarities of the way of thinking. After analysing the history of your homeland, understanding it, and feeling the connection to your roots, you can say who you are and explain why you behave so”, says Inga Mangus.
As a scientist and a mother of two bilingual children, Ms. Mangus decided to work out an educational programme and open her own school of the Russian language in Estonia. Her daughters were the first students. Then the number of students increased. The school has been operating for more than 15 years daily for about 100 students. Moreover, Inga Mangus is the author of 35 textbooks of Russian for Estonia’s schools and Estonian for Russia’s schools.
She helps bilingual children not only learn their native language but also understand the culture of their homeland and preserve ties with their roots.
Inga Mangus believes that every woman living abroad must tell her children about their homeland. Certain knowledge is necessary to do that properly. Women should always remember that they bring up the rising generation and transmit values and spiritual guidelines. Women are the keepers of the nation’s language and culture.
Anna Repina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov