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40

I grew up bilingual, and so does my son of 18 months. My son and I both have a Danish father and an Austrian mother. Here is what I've learned, from my own life as child and as parent, and from others: Start immediately. it won't do to decide on this after a year or more. It must be from the start, because kids learn even before birth, and most under the ...


19

My wife and I have been raising our four year-old daughter exactly as you describe since birth. I speak to her in English, and my wife and her family speak to her in their native language -- even though all of us otherwise primarily speak English in our daily lives here in the US. It has worked out wonderfully; our daughter now speaks both languages ...


18

There are many studies on bilingual children and the most important thing highlighted in those I've read are that exposure to the language in the first six months helps the childs' brain develop the necessary functions to distinguish all the sounds of the different languages. For example, an average English-speaking adult who starts learning Chinese cannot ...


15

My family moved from the U.S. to Israel when I was very small, and my younger sister was born in Israel and learned English here. I've also seen how a lot of immigrant families from different countries have handled this. English is probably a lot easier than other languages... but I hope this is helpful. We always spoke English at home. "At home" might ...


13

Much like Torben, my husband and I are also in a similar situation. I'm American and my husband is Danish. We use the "one parent, one language" approach with our son. I speak only English to him and my husband only Danish. We live in Denmark where the dominant language is (naturally) Danish. I have, however, learned Danish and can converse fluently ...


12

From my experience growing up bilingual, the problem won't be that your kids don't want you to speak the "foreign" language, but that they will refuse to speak the "foreign" language. (The fact that you will do uncool things is a given: you're the parent, anything you do is by definition uncool.) The only way to counteract this is to build up a good ...


11

My background: I also live in Sweden. I was born in Russia and lived most of my life in US. My husband is Swedish. We speak English at home. I know many many people with bi- and tri- lingual kids, and a couple of a 4-lingual kid. My advice: go for all of them, and hope that enough of them stick. Above all, don't stress over it too much. Let me address your ...


10

I grew up in America, but my parents are both from Iran. My Persian is not terribly strong (probably 3-4 grade level as well), but I try to exclusively speak it to my kids. I find it challenging at times, particularly because there is much more English around them than Persian (friends, in-laws, TV, my wife). But the benefits for my children are worth the ...


10

I'm facing a similar situation; being Danish and living in (German-speaking) Austria. I do have the advantage that my wife and mother-in-law understands Danish too, but nobody else in our social circle does. Here's how I would approach this: First, agree with your wife that learning more than one language is always a benefit. It's even better when it's a ...


10

I say embrace it. The Western Hemisphere has a very large Spanish speaking population. The worst thing that can happen is your son will speak 3 languages as an adult. And that could benefit him in the long run. As long as he is speaking and studying English at home he should be fine. Don't worry.. Kids pick up language very easily.


9

I live in Australia. My wife came to Australia 12 years ago from China. I can speak fluent Chinese. My 4 year old son goes to childcare 4 days a week and my parents look after him 1 day a week. So Monday to Friday during the day he speaks English. Here is how we help him to learn: Be consistent: He already spends plenty of time speaking English at school ...


9

The main thing I would recommend here is that you talk English around him. I appreciate that he's probably at daycare for longer time than he spends with you, but parenting time is more 1-1, and therefore has more of an immersion effect than daycare. You mentioned that his primary language is Thai, which I assume is from your wife. (please correct me if I'm ...


8

Any exposure to another language is great for children. With my sample space of two children, my daughter (now ten) was raised bi-lingual and is years ahead in both languages (school-wise) even though she has limited exposure to her second language. My son (3.5) primarily speaks and thinks in his second language but can swap to English very quickly. He, ...


8

Any age Please start right away! It is great for your child to have even just exposure to another language. Others will disagree and talk about exactly how to achieve fluency, but my take on it is, exposure no matter how small is better than just plain old monlinguism. Since you speak English pretty well, if you used English with the baby 24/7, it would ...


8

My experience tells me you should both speak your native tongue at home, and you can throw in some English along the way just for variety. You know how you can tell Chinese from Spanish, even if you speak neither? Children up to at least 7 years of age are incredibly good at telling languages apart - even languages they don't speak. Children can learn a ...


7

Our family is similar- husband Moroccan, I am American, our family language is English and we are raising our 3 and 4 yr old in the US. My husband has exclusively spoken Arabic to the girls since birth (One Person, One Language, OPOL). Depsite this, books and DVDs in Arabic, English dominates b/c they know they can speak in English and be understood. We ...


7

It's never too late to start! Especially if you're a native speaker, just go for it. In my experience languages are most easily learned in the first 6-8 years -- learning happens more or less subconsciously while kids are that young. With other kids, it feels like actual, conscious learning. Specific example: I was raised bilingual (Danish, German) so ...


7

There are a fair mount of studies out there that show pretty that being bi-lingual is a clear benefit (e.g. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-benefits-of-bilingualism.html?_r=0 ) However, this will depend on how you go about it. Small kids learn best by immersion: i.e.being exposed to situations where the second (or third) language is the ...


7

If your son is otherwise progressing well in his development (that "his play becomes more complicated" and "he wants to explain the rules" is an indication of that), I would not worry (and would certainly not start hectic manouevres to speed up his linguistic development). If you don't feel qualified to judge his general development, don't hesitate to talk ...


7

Sergio and Dave BOTH have good answers for general activities, but if you are simply looking for a signal to get them to quite down and look at you for transitioning to the next activity there are a number of things to try depending on the specifics of the situation. You have to teach them it will be a signal and then use it pretty often first, but there ...


6

Since you asked for "strategies" plural: The best way to raise a child who is fluent (and literate) in Tagalog despite growing up in an English-speaking country is for both parents to always speak Tagalog at home. Reserve English for interactions with the outside world — school, work, playmates. Don't even bother teaching the child English at first; ...


6

I have a friend who is doing a PhD in bilingualism, who claims that speaking more than one language will in fact not confuse a child in any linguistic sense. However, how well the child learns each language is directly related to how much he/she is exposed to it. If you are the only source of your language to your child, speaking less in that language is ...


6

If you start reading immediately after your child is born (or even before!), which I highly recommend, and if the goal specifically to exposure your child to English language, then I'd read the English story books in English only. However, I'd suggest taking it a step further than just reading a selection of stories in English. The more exposure to each ...


6

Welcome to the site, Sean! I generally encourage learning foreign languages but it requires that the parents can participate. Don't underestimate the challenge of new languages. My personal experience is that children can learn languages nearly automatically but adults find it very difficult. If you have a history of little or poor language learning ...


6

Parents dramatically overestimate the risk of not learning the community language, especially if you are in the US. In my family alone, over 7 languages have died in the last 3 or 4 generations (German, Russian, Swedish, French, Cherokee, Dutch, Polish). There has never been a case of a child born in the US failing to learn English from the community. My ...


5

I don't want to cover much more than has been said, but my wife is from Taiwan and I am American so she generally speaks Mandarin to our sons, while I speak English. That worked well for us, we also have DVD's and exposed the children to cultural events, as well as family events, where they were surrounded by the culture and the language. DVD's and CD's ...


5

I have seen many families use basic sign language along with the two languages to help the child to learn both languages. It doesn't create a third language (thus more confusion)as many people think, but rather creates a "visual bridge" between the two languages. I work with military families around the world who have found that having the visual sign helps ...


5

I think the point of the one language per person rule is to make the child learn to be consistent with the languages in question. (S)he needs to learn properly to use each language exclusively when the situation requires that - instead of speaking sentences where half the words come from language A and the other half from language B, or words from language A ...


5

We are a Swedish and Australian couple living in the Flemish part of Belgium. I speak English to our little one. My partner speaks Swedish to her. At creche she will learn Flemish, though we don't teach that to her yet (she's not yet one). This will occur some time after she turns one. Later at school she will learn French, as Belgium is bilingual. She'll ...


5

Your children are probably choosing to respond to you in German because they are more fluent in it, and they know that you understand it, not because they don't want to use Danish. If you are the only person who speaks to your children in Danish, then probably around 70% of their input is in German. Children won't understand why you are telling them to ...



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