CSUF Expert Explains Why (and How) You Should Raise Bilingual Kids

Natalie Tran

For Natalie Tran, learning three languages by the age of 11 was a matter of survival. As Vietnamese refugees, Tran and her mother spent years in refugee camps in Hong Kong and Manila. For a time, Tran believes that she was more fluent in Cantonese than even Vietnamese - and she certainly didn’t speak much English.

Today’s American parents often have their children learn more than one language — not necessarily as a matter of survival but to pass on a portion of their heritage to the next generation or to equip their children to work in a global and diverse economy.

“My daughter, her first language is Vietnamese — and that was an intentional decision. To be honest with you, we had to try so hard just to speak [Vietnamese] to her at home,” said Tran, an associate professor of educational leadership at Cal State Fullerton and director of the university’s National Resource Center for Asian Languages (NRCAL).

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