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Raising children bilingual, trilingual (or more)

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Fabienne, Sep 6, 2006.

  1. EL72

    EL72 Senior member

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    My son turned 4 last week, and is fluent in French and English, with perhaps slightly better vocabulary in French.

    Mine too, we celebrated his 4th bday last Sunday.

    FWIW, I think you did the right thing with the German classes. These kids can learn a lot more than we give them credit for. It's great that he speaks French with other kids too. The pressure to conform and speak English gets very strong when kids get older with movies, Internet.... so if you intend to remain in the US, stay the course and don't let him veer off-track. I know a lot of parents who continued to speak to their kids in French but the kids would respond in English and after a while, the parents gave up and spoke in English.
     


  2. EL72

    EL72 Senior member

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    In my experience a lot of people are shy about speaking their second language because they're not as comfortable with it. Your child doesn't seem to have that problem.

    That's because it's a second language. A truly bilingual person is as comfortable in either language. In conversation with my wife, sister, parents... I constantly switch back and forth b/w French and English depending on the language in which the words come to me first.
     


  3. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    Mine too, we celebrated his 4th bday last Sunday.

    FWIW, I think you did the right thing with the German classes. These kids can learn a lot more than we give them credit for. It's great that he speaks French with other kids too. The pressure to conform and speak English gets very strong when kids get older with movies, Internet.... so if you intend to remain in the US, stay the course and don't let him veer off-track. I know a lot of parents who continued to speak to their kids in French but the kids would respond in English and after a while, the parents gave up and spoke in English.


    Last Thursday for us. True, I see very few households in my area where children are bilingual and actually speak both languages. One case is that of an Italian friend who doesn't work, so she takes the kids and spends the entire summer in Italy, she enrolls the kids in Italian schools for the remainder of the school year, at the end of the summer, when possible.

    So far so good, he seems to adore his new teacher, that helps.

    I want to cover all bases: a potential return to Europe, staying in the US, moving to Canada...
     


  4. chrisc

    chrisc Well-Known Member

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    I was raised by Spanish speaking parents and was taught Spanish, and since we lived in the US they should have taught me English as well.

    They didn't. At least not until I went to preschool and saw all the problems I was having. From then on they decided to speak more English and less Spanish when they were around me. I was fluent in Spanish when I was 7 years old. By my 13th birthday I could understand Spanish but had trouble speaking it. Now I have even more trouble speaking Spanish and sometimes even understanding it.

    Sometimes my family pops in a family video that they took before I was 10 and I'm amazed at just how much I knew. Kind of makes me sad. At times I had no idea what I was saying, which is a bit weird...

    So in other words: make sure you immerse your children with both languages. And well into their teens. My uncle had his son (my cousin) speak Spanish at home when he realized that his son was beginning to lose it.

    Conclusion: My cousin knows a lot more Spanish than I do...
     


  5. benecios

    benecios Senior member

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    My son is 4 months old,and we are trying to bring him up speaking Dutch and English.We live in England but my partner is Dutch.We regularly visit Holland and my partners Mother and Grandparents don't speak English that is why we are hoping he will learn Dutch.The general plan is for my partner to only speak Dutch to him and I will speak English(I don't speak Dutch),obviously as the only language he speaks at the moment is gaga I will have to post again in 18 months [​IMG] to tell you how its going.
    Here is a picture of the little guy:
    [​IMG]
     


  6. EL72

    EL72 Senior member

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    Very cute Benecios!

    Good points chrisc. This is exactly what I am concerned about. As much as kids can learn languages easily early-on, they can also just as easily forget them if not used sufficiently. You should be able to re-learn Spanish fairly easily though if you put your mind to it.
     


  7. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    Languages seem to be the least of his concerns, right now. What a sweetie.

    The one parent-one language technique. I think it works if the parents are consistent. All the households I know where bilingualism was not successful had the parents switch to English at one time or another. It's particularly essential early on, I think. Friends of mine, a franco-japanese couple, are now horrified to find their 3 year old won't speak either French or Japanese. As long as I have known them, they have used either English or one of the other language, with a predominence of English, and now they get upset with her for not speaking back in anything but English. Sad.
     


  8. GQgeek

    GQgeek Senior member

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    International Baccalaureate? Yes. I'm wondering about the usefulness of such a degree. Any input?

    Oh, he's not shy about anything, he'll talk to anyone in any language at his disposal, when we travel. [​IMG]


    The teaching standards are generally higher (schools and teachers have to qualify to offer the IB) and I think it helps to develop critical thinking. It also provides a broader education and broader view of the world. I went through a bunch of different systems in both ontario and quebec and there were distinct differences in how demanding they were academically, even among private schools. To this day, aside from my 3rd year of molecular biology at university, grades 4-6 at Appleby College were my most challenging school years. They piled on so much work and you had to do big research projects starting in grade 4, plus tons of other stuff, extracurricular activities, sports, etc. I know that there are IB programs starting as early as elementary school but i'm not sure how they're structured. I can say this with certainty, the best students at my school were IB kids. Of course, I'm sure there are excellent schools that don't do the IB program as well.

    What I really can't stand is the fact that that you have to pick a science or social science stream in high school. I'm not sure how the american curriculum is organized but that's how it was in quebec. It's too unbalanced and it leads to kids with a very narrow spectrum of knowledge. I think it's better to get a broader education in highschool because at university, regardless of whether you enter in to the sciences, arts, or engineering, they're gonna teach you everything you need to know in first year.
     


  9. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

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    And how did The Gifted Child react to being forced to learn French?

    So far, so good.


    [Language is required in The Gifted Child's school, the only questions are which language to study, and how long. The Gifted Child chose French. I mandated 4 years]
     


  10. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    You can't force a child to learn. And children are, for the most part, conformist. Force them into a "system" radically different from that of their peers, and chances are that they'll rebel against it. Trust me, I am a second generation Chinese Canadian, and I refused to speak Chinese for years. Luckily, apparently, I learn and retain languages easily (I re-picked up French after years of not speaking a word of it, and learned Spanish primarily by speaking with friends, as an adult), and speak better than most brothers of cousins now. However, the daughter's reluctance is not unusual. I think that the parents should let it slide. Speak to her in French and Japanese, and hope that she changes her mind at some point.

    Languages seem to be the least of his concerns, right now. What a sweetie.

    The one parent-one language technique. I think it works if the parents are consistent. All the households I know where bilingualism was not successful had the parents switch to English at one time or another. It's particularly essential early on, I think. Friends of mine, a franco-japanese couple, are now horrified to find their 3 year old won't speak either French or Japanese. As long as I have known them, they have used either English or one of the other language, with a predominence of English, and now they get upset with her for not speaking back in anything but English. Sad.
     


  11. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    You can't force a child to learn. And children are, for the most part, conformist. Force them into a "system" radically different from that of their peers, and chances are that they'll rebel against it. Trust me, I am a second generation Chinese Canadian, and I refused to speak Chinese for years. Luckily, apparently, I learn and retain languages easily (I re-picked up French after years of not speaking a word of it, and learned Spanish primarily by speaking with friends, as an adult), and speak better than most brothers of cousins now. However, the daughter's reluctance is not unusual. I think that the parents should let it slide. Speak to her in French and Japanese, and hope that she changes her mind at some point.

    When I have Marianne at home with my son, and I do activities in French with them, after an hour, she starts to respond to me in French...
     


  12. Demeter

    Demeter Senior member

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    Does it have an IB program later on? Anyway, it sounds like you've got it figured out if the kid is already comfortable in both languages. In my experience a lot of people are shy about speaking their second language because they're not as comfortable with it. Your child doesn't seem to have that problem.
    Hah! IB... Oh, the memories. Actually, as an addition to this thread, I do have this to say: Don't underestimate your child's ability to pick up languages. I grew up completely trilingual, and would have been quadrilingual had my mother not stopped speaking Estonian with me. I had absolutely no problem adopting to an environment in which another language was spoken, and I've yet to meet a child that does. If you want bilingualism, the best way is immersion - speak your native tongue with your child, and send them to a French or Spanish or whatever school. They will grow up speaking two languages completely fluently. I have a friend that grew up speaking French with her mother, Italian with her father, and studied in English at school. On top of that, she picked up Spanish along the way. I'm currently studying two different languages and I can't begin to explain how much help such a foundation is.
     


  13. Stu

    Stu Senior member

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    I'm the only one who speaks to my daughter (now 6) in English. Her paternal grandparents live in the states and don't see her that often, her maternal grandparents don't speak English, and her mother does, but does not use it with her. Despite her environment, though, English is by far her preferred langauge. She even speaks slang. Go figure. When she was first learning to speak, she hated English. I'd speak to her in English and she would say: "Papi, español."

    I guess this means Nickelodian is a bigger influence on kids than parents.
     


  14. gmac

    gmac Senior member

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    I don't necessarily agree with complete immersion. While the child will pick up spoken english (presuming that is the primary language in the place of residence) through environmental factors, they will not pick up reading and writing in english without specific training.
     


  15. Stu

    Stu Senior member

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    We need Globe to chime in on this. Where the hell is he?
     


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