A second language?

[deleted account] ( 46 moms have responded )

How important is it? What language? Do you speak any other languages fluently?


Riana - posted on 09/29/2010




Definately for teaching kids as many languages as possible, the younger the better :-)

English is my second lanuage, afrikaans is my mother lanuage and I also speak broken dutch and very limited setswana.

Both my children are entirely bi-lingual, again we speak afrikaans at home and they go to an english school, and they both also speak some setswana.

I researched it when Annika was small and it came down to a child being able to learn as many languages as is presented to them in a honest form, the younger the better. It is very hard to teach children single words, but watch them play with a friend who speaks a different language and it is shocking how quickly they pick it up!

But having said that when Kobus was little the speach tharapist strongly advised us against teaching him a second language, said it would be hard enough for him to get one language right (he has a cleft palate). However we simply ignored her and put him in an english school anyway (partly because we had no other choice). He does not speak either language clearly but speaks both 100% fluently. No regrets.

[deleted account]

Oh and now that I have read the previous posts, I think French immersion schools are great (just as English immersion in Qc are great).

Even if the child does not become fluent in the language, they have developed language skills that will allow them to learn other languages more easily. Moreover, a lot of jobs will pay you more or requests that you are bilingual to some level.

My son will be going to French school as it is much harder to learn than English (the written part mostly) and because we live in a city where English is predominant, he will be able to keep both languages as he grows up.

I think it's important to give my children the opportunity to learn it and they can choose not to pursue later on.

[deleted account]

I speak French (SURPRISE!!!!).

I was raised in a French home where my parents speak practically no English. My father tries but it's not his strength. I learned to speak English in school but improved it mostly in College (I chose to study in English).

My husband's first language is English but he was raised in a bilingual home (French & English) and attended French school until he got to college. My son and step-sons are raised in bilingual homes and speak fluently both languages (ok my 2 year old isn't fluent in either yet).

I think it is extremely important for my family to speak both languages. I want all of us to be able to communicate with both sides of the family and be able to travel within our country and be understood. Not speaking English is a HUGE handicap in North-America.

Very important for me. I am trying to learn a bit more Spanish as well but it is very hard for me.

Krista - posted on 09/28/2010




Well, Dana, you already know my thoughts on this, but I'll share them here. :)

As far as WHAT language to learn, I think that depends on where you live. In much of Canada, learning French is very advantageous. And if you want your child to learn another language besides that, based on family heritage or something, then go for it!

Personally, I think it is important for children to at least be exposed to a second language very early on -- studies have shown over and over that mastery of a second language is much easier if it is learned early on.

I speak French with a varying degree of fluency, depending on how much exposure I get to it. I'm planning on putting my son in French pre-school when the time comes, to give him that early French language exposure, particularly because they do not have an early immersion program in our community's elementary school. I figure if he gets that early exposure, he'll be able to grasp it much better in school, and I can supplement his learning at home. (I have my Petit Robert and my Bescherelle all ready to go!) For me, it is very important that my children have a working knowledge of French. It is a huge part of their heritage, and we live in a part of the country where speaking French definitely gives you an advantage in the workforce.

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[deleted account]

@Donna - You can get a lot of Maori books here in NZ. We have immersion preschool (Kohanga Reo) and primary schools (Kura Kaupapa) here now so there's a lot more Maori books out there. I don't know where you'd get them in Oz though. Maybe online? There are a few on Amazon.

[deleted account]

I believe at the highschool level (at least when I was there 15 years ago) we were required to take at least ONE language and follow through with it until grade 12. I took French and excelled and enjoyed it very much but they also offered German and Japenese. I'm not sure if it's still the same?!

[deleted account]

I speak Tsalagi. I only learned it because it is dying and my tribe wishes to preserve it (I learned as a kid). Less than 25,000 people speak it today, and I don't live on the reservation, so I never even get to speak it, no one around here speaks it. I don't know how to write it and to be honest, I'm not so sure how well I would do with it in a conversation these days....so it is not important on a business or life scale, but I do hope we are able to keep it alive.

I would LOVE to learn Spanish. For one, it is really pretty and I love to listen to people when they speak it even though I can't understand them. Second, we have a very rapidly growing Hispanic population in this area. Many of them are new to the US and do not speak English well yet. I can sympathize with them--I've been trying to learn it for years, but I just cannot pick it up :P

It is easier for young children to learn second languages, so I would love to put my son in a Spanish immersion program if I can find one that I can afford and is near by.

Krista - posted on 09/30/2010




@Alahnna: Here, it can give you that extra foot in teh door for jobs and also, for my children, it is part of their history on my side of the family (I am part Acadian).

w00t! Another Acadienne! Yay!

You know, we Acadians (mostly in the Moncton area) have a language all our own, called chiac. It's kind of goofy -- it's basically Frenglish, but there are also some Old French words in there that aren't even used anymore, (e.g., bailler, quérir, hucher, gosier).

So if my sister was trying on a skirt, for example, and it didn't flatter her, I could say something like, "J'aime ton skirt, mais je n'aime pas la way que ça hang."

[deleted account]

Oh Anika, what books can you get in Maori??? Are they kids books? I would love to get some myself. For some reason I've always felt a really strong connection to the Maori, to the point of having a Manaia tattooed on my shoulder. I have a book of Maori legends, but it's in English and the only words I know either have to do with sex or swearing... you know, the important stuff! lol

Jodi - posted on 09/30/2010




My son had to choose a language when he started high school this year, and he is now required to stick with that all the way through. It is compulsory for the next 4 years. He chose Italian. But prior to this he did a year of Japanese (and he did quite well) and 2 years of Indonesian.

My daughter has started Indonesian in school and she is in Kindergarten. They learn Indonesian at her school until Year 6. I'm imagining that by Year 6, she will be pretty fluent (good luck to her, she'll probably be cursing me in Indonesian, and I'll never know). Then, when she goes to high school she will probably have to choose a language to follow through with.

I think it is great. Back in my day, it was not something we bothered with in our primary school days, it just wasn't part of the curriculum. A more multi cultural and *tolerant* (I use that term loosely) society has led to a greater focus on languages.

Now, if they could only get the kids to focus on getting the English language right, we might be getting somewhere.

[deleted account]

I think its very important for a child to learn a second language. I speak English and Spanish and I have encouraged my children to learn Spanish as a second language. For me, growing up in school, everyone assumed I was white because of my complextion but little did they know that I understood when the would say bad things about be and of course, I would have to put them in their place, in Spanish of course. So I think, in my opinion that it would be great for everyone to learn a second language, whether it be Spanish, French, Arabic, Mandarin, etc....I think it will be a wonderful experience for them.

[deleted account]

I think learning another language actually helps you understand your native language better. I never really thought much about English and all its idiosyncrasies until I attempted (and failed miserably) to learn French before moving to France for 6 months.
Here in New Zealand, the problem we have is distance. We're so far away from other countries that speak other languages that we don't get the chance to practice or give much of a damn to learn one. We have our own native language which we're trying to bring back from the brink and it's working, but its a long road. I know 'toddler' Maori ie I can say, "My name is Anika", "I'm going to town.", "Go away". "I have 5 cats." I use Maori words with my daughter and have some books in Maori. I sing Maori songs to her. I'd love for us both to learn more.

Alahnna - posted on 09/29/2010




Personally, I think being bilingual is very important and a big asset to children. Here, it can give you that extra foot in teh door for jobs and also, for my children, it is part of their history on my side of the family (I am part Acadian). My daughter is currently in French immersion and I plan to put my son in it as well when he starts school next year. I am fluent in both French and English and it has opened many doors for me in my life that would not otherwise have been an option to me. Plus, it alloows me to help my daughter with her homework :)

[deleted account]

LaCi - French and Spanish are the most useful in what way? They are both lovely languages and since most of the world speaks one or the other of those, it would be helpful to your son in future travels too.

[deleted account]

Dana, thank you! I don't see it as being impressive only because it's something I love and it's relatively easy for me. Incidentally, English was my second language. Having learned a second language before age 7-8 is what was supposed to have made languages easier for me. My parents were told that from the gifted program they put me in in grade 4.

No, it's just another class. They also do violin lessons. Both are required from Prep to grade 4 and then the child can elect not to continue violin or choose another instrument at that time. In Prep (Kindergarten), they do Mandarin and Violin once a week, I believe. It's not an immersion school, but since I don't know Mandarin and would like to, it may turn out a bit more immersion for the boys. A friend's daughter is in a Mandarin immersion program in her high school (a state school) and 80% of her classes are done in Mandarin.

[deleted account]

Donna, you mentioned the school they'll be attending teaches Mandarin? Does that mean they teach IN Mandarin or that it's just offered as part of the program with a certain amount of time per day spent teaching it?

The French Immersion schools actually teach using French at least 50% of the time.....there is also another preschool/elementary program that offers French as part of the curriculum but it's not full immersion.

[deleted account]

Sharon, I have a similar history to you! Raised on Japanese (and English) on military bases, etc. I also have an ear and a love for languages.

I believe it's very important to learn a second language whilst young, because it makes it easier to pick up languages as needed later on. I am fluent in 5 languages and can hold my own in another 4, with smatterings of a further 3. My boys have been raised with both English and Japanese (even though my husband doesn't speak it) and also know some sign language which was great for pre-verbal communication. The school they will attend teaches Mandarin from Kindergarten too.

LaCi - posted on 09/29/2010




I think it's important. I don't speak a second language fluently, but would like to learn spanish and french, and would like my son to speak spanish and french, since those are the most useful on this continent. I would applaud him learning more than that, but that's what we're working on.

C. - posted on 09/29/2010




No I don't.. I speak bits and pieces of several languages, though.

I think it's very important to learn a second language. With all these people moving from country to country b/c travel is more widely available, I think it's good to relate to them in a way.

As far as which one.. Whichever one is most prominent in your area or where you're moving to, etc.

Sharon - posted on 09/29/2010




I grew up speaking japanese. Raised on military bases where my neighbors spoke a horde of various languages, living in country after country.

I don't speak any language fluently any more but I have an ear for languages and can enunciate perfectly in all that I have tried.

I feel like a turd that I haven't given my kids the same opportunity.

[deleted account]

I think it's important to speak more than one language, we live in a very small world and it is really beneficial if we can converse with people who speak other languages, for example in business.

I can speak German, although not what I would class as fluently, but enough to be able to have people understand me in Germany and to hold a conversation with a German person. In school we had to study French and German up until we were 14 then we had to decide on one of the 2, I struggled with French so continued with German (and have continued to read German since school). I am trying to learn Polish because I feel that as part of my heritage I should have at least a basic knowledge of it.

I can also 'speak' basic sign language (my grandad has hearing difficulties) and find that is a wonderful skill to have, my grandad loves teaching us signs and my son loves playing sign language too.

Becky - posted on 09/28/2010




I think that knowing a second language can open a lot of doors. And supposedly, it also makes it easier to learn subsequent languages, if you have to.
I used to be fluent in French, but it's been several years since I've spoken it much, so I am kind of rusty until I've been immersed in it for a few days. It comes back pretty quickly.
I really want our boys to learn French, but Jeff doesn't like French immersion schools. Plus, he knows no French, so we don't speak it at all at home - although once in a while I'll speak it or sing to them in it. So I'm not sure how I'll make that happen. Maybe I'll put them in a French class outside of school.
Mostly, I just like being able to speak French because then I can catch anyone who's trying to use it talk about me behind my back!

Stifler's - posted on 09/28/2010




Not very. I don't speak any other languages fluently. I did German in school but never learned the entire language enough to speak to an actual German.

Johnny - posted on 09/28/2010




I think it is a great thing to speak more than one language. My French is fairly good, although I virtually never have the opportunity to use it, so my conversation skills are quite rusty. I can comfortably watch tv, listen to the radio or read a book in it though. My husband speaks Russian, didn't actually learn English until he went to kindergarten. I wanted him to teach it to our daughter, but it just wasn't working because we never speak it in our house. A few of our neighbors are Russian though, and they are very disappointed that he isn't teaching her, so they take every opportunity to speak to her in it. One of them wants to tutor her when she gets older.

I'd like her to learn Cantonese though, it would be really, really useful around here.

Charlie - posted on 09/28/2010




I used to be able to speak Tongan fluently when i lived there but i returned to Australia and lost it however i still understand every word and can speak a little , my mother just never really bothered keeping it up at home but i really want to to teach Cooper and Harry , Cooper already says some words like Uma (kiss)and Ikai (no).

I think a second language is very important !

Joanna - posted on 09/28/2010




Growing up in North Dakota, we had two language options in high school... Spanish, and French (I think French was an option only because we were close to Canada). I took a year of Spanish but didn't like my teacher, so then I took 3 years of French.

Now I'm in CA and I'm kicking myself. I don't remember the French, and I could really use some Spanish right now.

Jodi - posted on 09/28/2010




I can curse in French, quite fluently, does that count?

Seriously though, I never really did well in languages. I feel embarrassed that my 5 year old can count to 10 in both Indonesian and Italian, and has quite a good Indonesian vocabulary, and my son is getting A's in Italian and even teaching his sister.

[deleted account]

Dana, I agree with Sara that visiting the school can give you a very different perspective. IMO if sending your daugther to French immersion means compromising the rest of her education, it is not worth it. However, it is important to see for yourself.

JuLeah - posted on 09/28/2010




I think speaking another language is very important. Most people in other countries (not the US) speak 2 or more langauges. I want my child to speak several if poss. She is learning Hebrew, but I want her to know Spanish and French .... maybe others

[deleted account]

If you are halfway interested, Dana, I would make an appointment with the school and ask for a tour and to observe a classroom. Then you can SEE what goes on first hand.

[deleted account]

Sara, that's my problem with both the immersion schools here. Niether of them rank very high academically and I've heard some horrible things about one of them from parents of kids who went there at one point or another.

[deleted account]

To answer your question, Dana, I'm not sure. The only language immersion school near where I live doesn't have a good academic record. But I hate to form an opinion on all language immersion schools based on the one I am familiar with. I'm too unfamiliar with how they work and the educational philosophy to form an educated opinion on them.

Sara - posted on 09/28/2010




I'm quasi-fluent in German. It was my minor in college, and i spent some time over there. For me, I thought learning a different language helped me to understand the English language better. And I've found in traveling overseas that it is appreciated if you approach people in their own language. Most of the time, they can tell you're an English speaker and are eager to converse with you in English, but i know they think it's nice if you approach them in their own language first.

Serena - posted on 09/28/2010




I think its important to teach our children another language while they are young. Its scientifically proven there are certain ages that we go through where we are more receptive to information than others like when we are 4 or 5 years old. Why then do we teach language in high school, I don't know...
I also speak Spanish. I wish I started younger with my son learning Spanish but I listened to MIL who told me that it would confuse him (no doctor I have talked to said this was why he had a delay in speech) but now I am trying and watching Diego and Dora make spanish look cool to him so he's actually trying now.

Lindsay - posted on 09/28/2010




I definately don't think a second language could do you any disservice but the importance of it has more to do with location. I know some spanish but I'm far from fluent in it. I have a feeling the my kids are going to pass me up quickly. My daughter has some Spanish lessons now in Kindergarten and comes home singing songs with one verse in English and the next in Spanish. I think early exposure will definately help them. When I took Spanish is middle and high school, we learned each word and each meaning. Some of it stuck around just long enough for the test and other things I have retained and still remember. I understand it much better than I speak it. I do think that the ways kids are learning it now, is a better way than I did. They learn from conversation and pick it up on their own instead of memorization.

Cat - posted on 09/28/2010




Dana, I'm about 40mins from you, and here (think small town near the tunnels) there is no French Immersion either, and I'm fine with that, I never particularily liked learning French, and I'd never voluntarily put any of my kids in French Immersion, there's no point out here, not a single person I know on the West Coast speaks French... I admit there are some pretty cushy jobs that want bi-lingual people, but my kids'll just have to decide that when they're older...

Krista - posted on 09/28/2010




Not everybody out here speaks French. Nova Scotia has pockets of French. In the larger towns and cities, you'll find French Immersion. But I'm in a teeny little fishing village in an area of N.S. that really isn't French at all. I work in a town 45 minutes away, and there IS French Immersion in the schools here, but bringing him to school here isn't really feasible -- what if I'm away for work or sick? He wouldn't be able to get to school.

So, we'll do the best with what I can get for him.

[deleted account]

Krista, I find it interesting that there isn't very many options where you live for french immersion schools seeing as how you live in the east. I'm in Vancouver, BC (well, actually Abbotsford but close enough) and we're surrounded by them here and I don't see the "need" for them like you would think there would be back east.

[deleted account]

It depends on where you live as to how important it is. Here it's not that important. But across the river in Cajun country there are tons of people that speak only Cajun French (which is almost completely different than French! But supposedly French speakers can get by.) If we lived over there, we would be teaching our daughter at least basic Cajun French or French. She'll get a second language all through school, but it won't be in-depth. I don't see anything wrong with teaching a young child a second language. There is no harm in MORE education. =)

Cat - posted on 09/28/2010




I dont speak any other language fluently although french was taught in the schools I went to... I dont think its superbly important, an asset for sure, but not important... Thanks to shows like Kai Lan, Dora, etc. my kids know a bit of spanish and chinese :D

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