bringing your baby up to speak 2 languages

Kathryn - posted on 07/05/2010 ( 7 moms have responded )

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My husband is chinese and speaks cantonese and english, and I'm white and speak only english. we want our son to grow up learning both languages, but it seems impossible because i don't speak cantonese, and its such an incredibly hard language to learn! has anyone else succeeded in doing this, and any tips?

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Robin - posted on 07/09/2010

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You can do it, for sure. And it will be easy for your baby to understand both. I speak only English with our sons, and my husband speaks only Thai. (That is only when we're speaking TO them. WHen we speak to each other we speak whatever is convenient.) Our 1.9 year old understands both perfectly, and speaks both (to the extent that kids his age speak.)
If you do learn Cantonese that would be great, but I wouldn't suggest you speaking it with him. It's best for kids to pick up languages from native speakers, better pronunciation, etc. And since you are both experts in different languages, let him learn both from the expert!

Jenniferitzep - posted on 07/09/2010

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my husband speaks to our childern in spanish and me in english over time you pick up on it and learn litle by little

Melanie - posted on 07/08/2010

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A child can learn up to 7 different languages. How we do it here is, when i'am with the children i speak dutch to them and when my husband is at home we speak english. my son speaks better dutch at the moment but ones he is going to school he will learn the english language in no time.. they encourage parents to speak your own language so ones he is with his daddy he should speak cantonese with him. and maybe your husband can get some cartoons for your sun in cantonese language.

Yadira - posted on 07/08/2010

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I agree that one parent should stick with ONE language and the other parent the other. I speak English and Spanish and my hubby only English. I made it a point to speak only Spanish to my kids and they now both know Spanish and English perfectly. My husband was able to learn Spanish by asking me what I was saying to the kids and although he doesnt speak it fluently, he is able to pick up on what I tell the kids.. Its such a wonderful thing knowing more than one language and your kids will thank you later!

Lauren - posted on 07/08/2010

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I agree with Michelle- try to learn some, ANY Cantonese. I know it's really hard for an English speaker, but kids usually will speak whatever their mom speaks, which is English in your case. You're at a disadvantage, but just work with it!

We are also trying to do this with our daughter. My husband is Japanese and speaks Japanese and English. I think Cantonese is harder than Japanese, but try classes. They helped me with Japanese a lot. I speak to my daughter in Japanese as much as I can, and we try to be strict about my husband using Japanese only. If you need daycare, you can find a nanny or daycare center that has native speakers of Cantonese. We have a Japanese-speaking nanny three days a week- that definitely helps!

Best of luck!

Jennifer - posted on 07/07/2010

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I speak only english, and my husband speaks Telegu, English and Hindi, in that order. The plan is that I will speak to our daughter ONLY in english, and he will speak to her ONLY in Telegu (as that is what his family's mothertongue is and don't speak much english). This way she gets the best of both worlds from the get go and can easily communicate with both of our families. Later on, her and I can learn Hindi together. My mother knew of a family who did this with their twins and now they are incredibly smart, fluent, top students!

Michelle - posted on 07/05/2010

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Try learning cantonese, as dificult as it may seem. Just a few basic words maybe like mom, dad, milk, baby first word type of things. Have dad speak strictly cantonese and you english? Aslo have baby spend time wtih his family if they all speak cantonese as well and are local enough.

I know with my husband and I , he speaks spanish as a native language, and english s his second. I speak english with a little bit of spanish. We talked about the dual language thing and think that he is going to speak spanish, me english and baby spend a lot of time with his family as they all speak spanish.

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