Raising Multilingual Children to Speak Rarer Languages

By OptiLingo • 3 minute read

Raise multilingual children through guided immersion

Jonty Yamisha Interviewed on Raising Multilingals By Testu Yung

In a recent interview, accidental polyglot and founder of OptiLingo speaks to Testus Yung about his experience raising multilingual children to speak rarer languages. Jonty talks about what it’s like to bring up two children in the United States to speak a language other than English. During his chat, he shares his background and the difficulties he experienced learning a Circassian. He also discusses how that experience helped shape how he and his wife raise their children to be multilingual.

As an ethnic Circassian, Jonty Yamisha’s no stranger to minority languages or diasporas. Circassian is the dying language of a Circassia, a diaspora of roughly 5 million people. Sadly, fewer and fewer Circassians speak their native language. And as Elder speakers pass on, and children fail to learn the language of their people, that number continues to dwindle.

What makes it worse is that there are only a few language-learning resources readily available. In fact, Jonty had to create many of the documents he used to teach himself the language at 31. That’s why it should come as no surprise that he faces a constant battle to raise his children multilingual.

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Raising Multilingual Children Using One Parent, One Langauge (OPOL)

Raising children to speak an endangered language isn’t without its difficulties. At ages 3 and 6, it’s challenging for Jonty to find interesting resources that his children can use. And because Circassian is a dying language, it lacks versions of newer words. Words like “teddy bear” or “video game” simply don’t exist. And that means that Jonty’s forced to use the English word when speaking to his children.

In this inspirational interview, Jonty discusses the difficulties in raising multilingual children away without the support of their native country. Despite his struggles, Jonty finds the OPOL method (One Parent, One Language) to be very successful.

He stumbled into OPOL with his wife when they began raising their kids. They wanted a way to ensure their children would grow up knowing their native language. But they feared that if they didn’t keep the languages they taught their children seperate, their kids would eventually choose their own primary language. And if that happened, it seemed likely that they would eventually give up learning the other. As a result, they adhere to OPOL. That way, the children are comfortably speaking in their target language without the risk of them using the local language instead.

Jonty Yamish’s Raising Kids with Rare Languages Interview

To learn about Jonty’s experience raising his children multilingual and for strategies and advice you can use, check out the full interview here:


What Is “Raising MultiLinguals Live”?

Tetsu Yung is the host of Raising MultiLinguals Live, a new YouTube channel that discusses the best strategies and advice for raising children to be multilingual. Their mission is to provide fact-based, practical information that parents can use to raise their children as bilingual or multilingual. They interview experts and experienced practitioners in the field to help parents teach their children how to thrive through languages. Yung strives to bring the most current, cutting-edge knowledge on the subject. That way, his viewers can get the most effective strategies they need to raise their kids as global citizens.

In their live sessions, they cover topics ranging from common family language strategies in raising multilingual children, through insights on the neuroscience of languages and all the way to multilingualism in formal education.