Raising kids to speak Greek and English? Tips?

Nancy - posted on 07/02/2009 ( 9 moms have responded )

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Hi everyone! I just joined this group. I'm actually not Greek - my husband is. Since I wasn't raised in a Greek family, I sometimes have questions about Greek traditions and other things - hope its ok that I joined and thought it would help!

My question is, has anyone been teaching your children Greek and English? Our son is 7 1/2 months and we would like him to learn both English and Greek. We live in NYC which is english speaking, but my husband and his parents and brother are all fluent in Greek as well. They try to speak Greek as much as possible so that he'll hear both. I've also gotten some Greek language storybooks for him.

Any tips or advice from anyone else who is doing this?

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Soula - posted on 12/01/2009

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Try your best to have him around his greek family let them talk to him in greek always even if you don't at home your husband can and you will both learn learn the most common words and say them with him send him to greek school you will freak out how quickly they learn my children had only there garndmother and they learn't heaps now my daughter does it in high school and she always thanks us for making sure we taught her , her job oppertunites were opened more so and she has also able to learn Italian because of her father they say children up to five years of age can learn 10 languages so go for it ...nothing to loose more to gain your child will thank you ...Good luck ...........!!! xo

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Diana - posted on 09/12/2013

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Hi there, I also just joined the group. i am greek and am my husband is also Greek and I made it my mission to only speak greek to our little one. I mean to the point her music, disney movies, some of her toys and books are in greek. I made her flash cards etc... It's hard when wherever you go English is being spoken so I tried my hardest to teach her before she picks up English. The flash cards really worked. I started with pictures of our family. She got excited every time I pulled them out which was usually when I was feeding her. I then the alphabet, numbers, colours, animals. She picked it up right away. I also had greek children's songs playing all day long from birth. She loves them and knows almost all words to most of the songs. She just turned two and speaks and understand greek amazing. My worry is that she might get mixed up with english. I have started with English alphabet and basics and has picked up great but she does mix them up from time to time. And I don't want her to switch to only English either. I'm a bit nervous because my nephew also only spoke greek and just started pre k and he is really mixing up the languages any ideas? The teacher has pulled my sister in-law aside everyday about this since he started. now to help him for school shes only speaking english and he's all mixed up.I don't know if I'm just worrying for nothing? Any ideas?

Tracey - posted on 12/03/2010

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hi Nancy, I am half greek(Fathers side) I really wish that my greek family had spoken to me in greek from day one .They were new immigrants themselves and were busy learning english.If my father had stuck to the rule of only speaking to me in greek I know i would now be fluent.
I moved to Spain 1 1/2 years ago with my then 5 year old son.He was put straight into a spanish school and now speaks fluent spanish(we now have to pay attention to his english!),and most spanish people ae blown away with how well he communicates, me too.I believe he was the perfect age to learn and any older it gets tougher and tougher.Just make sure your husband and family always speak greek to him , make it a rule.
I ended up teaching myself, and let me tell you its much tougher when you are an adult.learning to read really helped as well.
I wish you are your husband all the best and you will be giving your son a real head start.Learning greek opened up a whole new world for me and i wished i had known it sooner.xxxxxxxxx

Anna - posted on 02/25/2010

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Hi! I'm Greek (well, half Greek) and my husband and I live in Greece. Our 3 children are fluent in Greek, English and French (my husband is half French). Our children go to an English school. I speak English at home and my husband speaks French. They've picked up the Greek from their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and tv and of course they take Greek (and French) at school as an extra language. It took them a little longer to speak in clear sentences than a child who only has one language to learn but they can now express themselves in all three languages. My two year old knows which language she has to use with each person she speaks to.

Maria - posted on 02/17/2010

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Hi there and welcome! you are Greek now! I'm Greek and I live in Ohio. my Husband is Greek as well but, it is still difficult to keep the Greek going in the states. Just let the relatives keep on speaking Greek as much as they can.. I speak Greek to my kids as much as possible. my husband not so much. I look at it like this ... They will learn english no matter what or where they are it's everywhere. But the Nationality of being Greek will be lost if you don't teach the kids now and continue to speak and teach through out their childhood. My sister n laws are both not Greek but they welcome our language and allow us to speak greek to the kids which is really important to all of us to let the kids know what their other half is all about. Good Luck with The Greeks!

Panagoula - posted on 11/07/2009

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Hi! I live in Florida and my husband and I are both Greek. Our 4 year old daughter is in daycare and speaks English all day. We try to speak Greek to her at home and end up speaking Greek-English mixed. It's funny because she understands the Greek but normally responds in English. We just keep working at it. Next year I will start her in Greek school and keep enforcing the Greek at home too. It's hard, just hang in there...we are :-)

Gianna - posted on 10/17/2009

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I got the same problem like you! Not with English and Greek but with German and Greek. We're living in Germany and Greece over the year. This year was the first summer for our Daughter Anastasia here in Greece and everyone spoke in Greek to her. When I'm in Germany I will start speaking only German with her cause my husband has to work the whole day.



So my tip is try to speak as much that often its possible English with your son. Your husband should speak Greek. The good thing is that you also learn greek.

Gabriela - posted on 09/24/2009

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Yes I am. We are not Greeks, but we live in Cyprus. My daughter is in an English school but learns also intensive Greek. There is a very good site on internet provided by the Cypriot Television for free with Greek lessons for all levels from English on www.kypros.org. You have to register, but it's for free. For us it was and still is very helpful.

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