Too many languages?

Alena - posted on 02/10/2009 ( 8 moms have responded )

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Hi! I was very glad to find and join this group:-) I am a Czech mum talking to my two years old kid in Czech. My husband is a Spanish native speaker, so our son talks to him in Spanish. The main communicative language between me and my husband is English..so the boy starts to understand the third language too. The problem is we are living in Germany and the boy should start learning Deutsch which I do not speak and do not understand and my husband has only basic knowledge of this language. I am worried that boy's nice tri-lingual development could be interupted by including the fourth language in such an early age. That is why we are thinking to move out of Germany when our son reaches school age. Anyone here having experience with tri or even more-lingual education in toddler's age? :-)

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Rabaab - posted on 05/06/2009

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hi, i am a British women who lives in Switzerland but is originally indian.. In my household we speak English and Urdu with our kids. We are teaching our daughter and will teach our children to learn to read Arabic. As in Switzerland German and French are the main languages and we live in the German part of switzerland we also have to speak German and my daughter is going to a German kindergarten.. I do not understand or speak Deutsch (German either ), but my daughter has picked up a little bit of German as she goes to German school. We have been told by the school here and by other parents not to speak German with our daughter as that is not our mother tongue..

I understand Alena you completely. but you know kids will pick up languges very quickly. do not worry at all..

Rebecca - posted on 04/20/2009

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my own kids are exposed to english, afrikaans and xhosa, but are only really fluent in english (with words from other languages). but i am not overly concerned, because they will pick the languages up easily due to exposure. i can speak afrikaans and my youngest child's father is native afrikaans speaker. i was born in uk and moved to sa when i was 5 -- i learnt afrikaans from watching it on tv and also school. i think kids absorb languages if they are exposed to them.

i am paying for my kids former nanny's son to go to the same school as my girls. he is native xhosa speaking, but the teaching medium is english. as a result he is a little behind what my girls are doing, but he's only two, and having witnessed this before, i know he will soon catch up. what i find really amusing tho is that he seems to be mostly learning his english skills from my 2 year old (they were born a month apart and have been together their whole lives) -- so he has many of the same mannerisms as her and says similar things -- it can be hilarious!

Natalie - posted on 04/14/2009

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I am five months pregnant with my first baby, who will have a French dad and a Puerto Rican mom, and be raised in Puerto Rico (but visit France often, hopefully). We will raise him in Spanish and French, and English will be introduced when he reaches school age... I would just like to say how glad I am to find a site with multi-lingual and multi-cultural parents! Even though I'm not a mom yet, I'm inclined to agree with the previous posts... more language exposure is an enrichment, and I have heard many similar stories of children learning more than four languages early on because of such exposure. I have heard none of children having their language skills impaired or their development affected from it.

Ivy - posted on 03/28/2009

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yeah i agree with everyone. although they might mix all the languages up at toddler age, once they are in school age, they will be able to distinguish where and who to speak which language (my cousins are all like that). My hubby and I communicate thru English, he speak Korean to our son, and I speak Cantonese to him. and we are all learning sign language as a family too. he so far understand all 3 languages and signs at 20 mo. Plus, exposing more languages at young age, it will make learning new languages easier later on. I plan to teach my son Japanese and French when he is talking more!

Gabrielle - posted on 02/24/2009

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We can't even compete with all of your wonderful experiences, but our 2-yr-old speak English and is learning Spanish and sign language. We plan to add Hebrew eventually, and she's also learning a little Chinese from her teacher and friends at daycare. I wish I spoke more languages, but she's at the perfect age to learn.

Gail - posted on 02/21/2009

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No Alenko, to neverim, jste ceska! I agree with Rebecca and Stasia (Rebecca - that's hard core!!!) My partner is 1/2 Dutch, 1/4 Danish and 1/4 Norwegian. He was raised speaking Dutch in the home but spent enough time in Denmark to learn that as well. TV was in German and English so he got those also. Now he has 4 native languages.

Our son speaks Dutch with his father, English with me and Czech at pre-school. Being that most of the family speaks Danish we're trying to figure out how to incorporate that. So far I've just had them speak it to him when he visits. I figure it'll be a passive language for him. I also speak Italian and it's a language close to my heart and I'd like to give him that but I figure on starting by reading to him in Italian when he's already comfortable with the main three - like when he's 5 or 6.

Meanwhile I have friends with a 10-year-old son who live here in the Czech Republic. The dad is Czech but raised in Holland and speaks Dutch to the son. The wife is from Mexico and speaks Spanish to him. He learned Czech at school as well as German and English. So now that's 5 languages. He likes it so much that he just started studying Mandarin. Whew!

Stasia - posted on 02/10/2009

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the more languages you have the easier you will be able to pick them up!!! THere is also a crucial developmental period for developing languages and it closes by age seven. At such a young age their brain is able (much better than ours) to pick out consonants that should go together and separate words. They will also be able to pick up languages fluently and without accent later in life if they are exposed to them when they are young. I am english speaking but my partner and his family are japanese. We are incorporating both languages as best we can. We also both sign to her. This is a bit different though because sign is almost a bridge for the two languages. I believe it is amazing what these little beings can do and I wouldn't stress about it yet!!!!

Rebecca - posted on 02/10/2009

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Well, in South Africa where I live, children have to be bilingual (at least) by the time they finish school as we live in a country with nine official languages. My youngest brother (who is now 11) share the same (English) father as me. His mother is Ndebele and his first Nanny was Tswana, while he went to an Afrikaans preschool. At age two he spoke a whole lot of languages all jumbled together, but by the time he was five he could speak five languages fluently, and now that he's 11 he can speak all the official languages of our country (as well as some unofficial ones). As far as I can see it hasn't done him any harm at all -- he's just able to speak to more people than the rest of us...!

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