Did you know that you need to speak to your child at least 30% of the time in both first languages to promote strong bilingualism?

Article de Parenthèse publié le 23 mai 2024, dans la catégorie Transmission linguistique

First of all, the good news is that your child is in an advantageous position! Studies show that cognitively, bilingual or trilingual children have a better capacity for attention and creative thinking than unilingual children. It all starts when baby is in the womb! As a matter of fact, the capacity to learn a language is optimal from the 34th week of pregnancy, according to a report by the National Research Council and the U.S. Institute of Medicine. Babies are little geniuses who are very attentive to sounds. It is recommended to expose children to first languages by talking to them and having them listen to songs as early as possible. So, as you can see, the actions that parents take on a daily basis make all the difference.

In the case of families in a minority context where one parent is Francophone and the other’s first language is neither French nor English, how can we ensure that the child will be proficient both in French and their second first language?

Here are two concrete strategies that focus on the role of parents in supporting children in their learning:

  1. In the case of the Francophone parent in a bilingual family, it is strongly recommended that:
  • they get into the habit of speaking French to the child.
  • they get the support of their non-Francophone partner concerning the use of French.


  • For example, by participating in Francophone playgroups or enrolling the child in a Francophone pre-kindergarten or child care centre. Several options are now available to parents through Le Phare C.-B., an initiative of the Fédération des parents.
  • By using every opportunity to experience activities in French with the child, in a fun atmosphere, by focusing on what they like to do, in order to associate fun and the French language, every day.
  1. In the case of the non-Francophone parent in a bilingual family, they need to:
  • show a positive and encouraging attitude towards French (this makes French relevant and interesting to the child and makes them feel safer, even if the attitude is expressed in a language other than French).


  • By encouraging reading at all ages, in both English and French, or by using skills going from one language to another (for example, by showing them the French equivalent of certain words in their own language).
  • By supporting their Francophone partner.

For more details on bilingual language development, including using the 4 Rs approach (routine, repetition, rejoicing, rewarding) daily, visit the 1 enfant, 2 langues mini-website, a resource offered by the Fédération des parents to help and support parents in their role as their children's first educators.