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Raising children bilingual, trilingual (or more)

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

  1. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    Teach the child as many languages as possible, including the three necessary languages (for your household / living in the US): French, English and Spanish. Italian and German are a good idea too, especially since with English, German becomes easier and with French / Spanish, Italian becomes easier (to learn). Simplified Chinese and Japanese are also viable options...But secondary ones at that.

    Jon.
     


  2. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    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.


    Thank you for taking the time to explain. I will look into the curriculum (they now post it online for the school). I would think it would have to follow the same basic path, though, no matter what country.
     


  3. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    Teach the child as many languages as possible, including the three necessary languages (for your household / living in the US): French, English and Spanish. Italian and German are a good idea too, especially since with English, German becomes easier and with French / Spanish, Italian becomes easier (to learn). Simplified Chinese and Japanese are also viable options...But secondary ones at that.

    Jon.


    I grew up in France, in a household where all of my dad's family was Polish, all of my mother's French. My father refused to speak Polish to me and frowned upon my grand-mother and great grand-mother doing so, therefore they stopped. In my current profession and for legal and family reasons, I can't begin to tell you how valuable it would have been for me to master Polish.
     


  4. Violinist

    Violinist Senior member

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    Are any of you raising children in several languages at once? Post anecdotes, tips, advice, etc.

    I was raised bilingual. For the first several years of my life, I spoke exclusively afrikaans, then became bilingual. For an Ontarian, I'm quite competent in spoken French and unless I'm totally out of it, I never have to repeat myself. My french got a lot better just because of living in Quebec (going on my 4th year here), and have no trouble in communicating in academic situations (though obviously my language register is lower) at McGill with Quebecers. The biggest problem for most people is pronunciation. Because Afrikaans required a lot of different pronunciations than english, I'm able to say the different type of Rs and vowels that there are in other languages, which english people really struggle with. I still think that someone who knows all the words but sounds incredibly english while speaking is a bit of a waste of time. It sounds like your son will have that advantage.

    To be totally honest, don't push to have a trilingual or whatever. If you don't speak on a daily basis with a native speaker, you are going to lose it. It's a whole lot of upkeep. Speaking multiple languages really helps on the SATs and making people think you're intelligent. Other than that, it can be a nuisance to maintain. Whatever french I speak

    As for IB, that could be very good for your child. My friend is a native speaker in French and he told me that at his school (the top IB school in the world), even the native speakers had trouble with the advanced french credit. Another friend of mine who was a native speaker found it challenging. IB is great, but it also depends on the school. I did some IB at my public school (after leaving one of those overpriced prep schools) and they don't offer weaker students the support you need to get 7s on the exams. If you do the IB, it's probably the best to spend the 40 grand to send him to a boarding school where they do it right and virtually guarantee a spot in an ivy league university (if that's your thing).

    As for social science vs math, that's not how it is in the rest of canada, GQ. Apparently the smart kids to the higher math/science, and the dumb kids do history etc... unfortunately for me, I'm horrible at math so I would have been part of the latter group. This is certainly not the best way to set up an education system. In Ontario there's University track and college then workplace track. You can do a fairly science/math free courseload in your last 2 (most important) years if you want. In fact, I hated math so much I did lower level grade 11 math, and the rest was all humanities.
     


  5. Alter

    Alter Senior member

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    My son is also 4 and is being raised bilingually in Japanese and English. We use the One Parent One Language method very consistently. I use only English, my wife uses Japanese. The common household language between my wife and I is English.

    His English is somewhat lagging compared to the Japanese, as he is exposed to much more Japanese than English, but not by much.

    We are considering starting a 3rd language soon, maybe Chinese.
     


  6. Ivan Kipling

    Ivan Kipling Senior member

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    My grandparents lived nearby when my sister and I were growing up. They emigrated from the Greek islands. My parents, who were born in the United States, were fluent in Greek. Hence, whenever my grandparents were around, Greek was spoken. By the time I entered kindergarten, I was comfortable speaking either tongue. Same, with my sister. At the time, I had no idea how lucky I was, to be learning another language at home. Now, I do.

    In high school, I took four years of French. In college, I majored in English and Spanish literature. I am fluent in Spanish, semi-fluent in French, very fluent in Greek. Still working on English.
     


  7. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    All I can say in response to reading this thread is that I really wish I was raised bilingual.
     


  8. acidboy

    acidboy Senior member

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    my 3 year old girl uses english as her first language. she can also speak filipino, but not as eloquently. being of chinese descent, we are now trying to talk to her in fookien (our dialect) and later on mandarin. and she also counts in spanish because she insists she and dora the explorer have the same ethnicity.
     


  9. Mr. Checks

    Mr. Checks Senior member

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    All I can say in response to reading this thread is that I really wish I was raised bilingual.

    Me too. My mother spoke Polish as her first language, but never taught it to me. It would have been wonderful to know, and would have made learning Russian easier, which would be great.

    From my time as a voice student, I know I have a good ear for languages, and could have really learned another one easily. Unfortunately, my high school didn't require a foreign language, so I never took one.
     


  10. Homme

    Homme Senior member

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    In primary school i was taught arabic alongside english. I can still tspeak a little, but reading and writing has become terrible. I wish i had kept at it ... at home english is always spoken unless my dad really has the shits with me.
     


  11. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    Has anyone read any of Julien Green's books? I remember a friend of mine in Paris once reading me a passage about his childhood, growing up bilingual, and, if I remember correctly, the way he felt differently when speaking English, when speaking French.
     


  12. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    I grew up in France, in a household where all of my dad's family was Polish, all of my mother's French. My father refused to speak Polish to me and frowned upon my grand-mother and great grand-mother doing so, therefore they stopped. In my current profession and for legal and family reasons, I can't begin to tell you how valuable it would have been for me to master Polish.

    Yes, but my answer was more intertwined with a "˜worldly' point of view. Polish is less important to know (again, from the world stance) than German or Spanish. At the same time: to each his own.

    Jon.
     


  13. Alter

    Alter Senior member

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    Has anyone read any of Julien Green's books? I remember a friend of mine in Paris once reading me a passage about his childhood, growing up bilingual, and, if I remember correctly, the way he felt differently when speaking English, when speaking French.

    I have often heard from Japanese bilinguals that when they speak English they have a completely different feeling; a different mind-set.

    With my son I have started to observe some interesting cultural elements recently. Use of eye contact and gestures are significantly different.
     


  14. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    I have often heard from Japanese bilinguals that when they speak English they have a completely different feeling; a different mind-set.

    With my son I have started to observe some interesting cultural elements recently. Use of eye contact and gestures are significantly different.


    I have noticed differences with my son as well. For example, he uses his hands more while speaking in French, he indicates "two" with his thumb and index finger in French, with his index and middle finger in English, his facial expressions are more "lively" in French than in English.
     


  15. imageWIS

    imageWIS Senior member

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    I have noticed differences with my son as well. For example, he uses his hands more while speaking in French, he indicates "two" with his thumb and index finger in French, with his index and middle finger in English, his facial expressions are more "lively" in French than in English.

    Yes...but that could be indicative of the language itself. If you look at the English, German, the Nordic languages they tend to use less non-verbal forms of communicating while speaking than those of the romantic-language kind. Just take a look at Italian, body language is 50% of the language!

    Jon.
     


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