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47

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 ...


22

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 ...


20

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 ...


16

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 ...


16

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 ...


14

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 ...


11

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 ...


11

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 ...


11

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 ...


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 ...


11

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 ...


11

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.


10

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, ...


9

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; ...


9

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 ...


8

I'm sorry but I don't think that just buying foreign books on Amazon is going to help a lot. It's just as difficult for a kid to simply pick up book in a foreign language and make sense of it as it is for an adult. As the parent, how are you going to support that learning when you yourself don't speak that language? The same goes for other medias like ...


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

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 ...


8

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 ...


8

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 ...


8

I've taught eighth grade (13-14 year-old kids) algebra for 28 years. The kids who arrive at middle school not knowing their basic multiplication facts are very unlikely to succeed in math in high school. Those facts are fundamental to everything from multiplication to division to fractions to factoring polynomials. They don't really understand any of these ...


7

(by popular request) Look for English-speaking ex-pats in the area you're moving back to, especially ones with small children...


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

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

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

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

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 ...


6

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 ...


6

I was raised in a solely Spanish speaking home in the U.S. and have friends that come from English and Spanish speaking homes watching their sibling that only responded in English to their parents Spanish commands really hindered their ability and comfort speaking the language as they got older. I highly suggest insisting your child respond to you in Danish ...


6

I will probably soon have the same problem - I am Russian and I live in the Czech Republic. My wife is Czech (although she speaks perfect Russian too) and we have a son. He is 2+ years old at the moment and we have made the rule that she speaks to him in Czech (sometimes in Russian too, as I'm often at work and can't be with my son as often, as she can) and ...



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