Bilingual Mom : What language should I speak to my children?

Inga - posted on 12/19/2009 ( 74 moms have responded )

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Hi, just joined the group and have a question about what language I should speak to my children. I am living in Norway and speak Norwiegen. I speak norwiegen at work to my hubby ( he is also norwiegen) and pretty much everywhere else in town. But when I am communicating with my family in the US I speak American. My children when they begin school will learn English as a second language but it is England english, not American english, yes there is a difference. I don't want to confuse them. How should I tackle this dilemma??

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Malena - posted on 08/11/2012

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I spoke to my child spanish since he was born, and my husband, who is american spoke to him in English. My son started translating in both languages at 2 years 4 months. Now that he is almost 4 yrs old he speak clearly both languages without any difficulties.
I believe that every kid has the ability to learn, also it is important to learn the language of the parents no matter where you are.

Amy - posted on 12/21/2009

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I would speak to them in norwiegen most of the time, however I think you should also teach them US english. Since you live in Norway, that should be the first they learn so they can communicate with others. When they are young is when they learn the different languages the best, so introducing it to them when there young (even if they don't speak it) will help them learn it when there ready.

If I was lucky enough to be fluent in two (or more) languages I would be teaching our son both very early on.

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Tiff_mom - posted on 08/15/2012

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I have never seen a confused child. I've seen a lot of bilinguals and I don't think you should be concerned about that in the least. Chlidren are very smart. I'm sure you've seen that in your own experience. Don't be afraid to give their little brain some exercise, they will always amaze you.

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I am American and My husband was born in Russia. My Family Speaks English to her and My husbands family speaks Russian to her. I am SOO thrilled that she is learning another language. She will be way ahead of those kids who only know 1 language.

Jodi - posted on 01/14/2010

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I have heard of families that divide their house into language zones. For example, the kitchen would be an area where the family can ONLY speak norwegian, the family room would be english only...if your LO is in the family room and you're in the kitchen he/she would ask the question in english, you would answer in norwegian. It keeps both languages going, keeps you and your whole family USING the languages in a relaxed setting and keeps everyone on their toes! best of luck with it!

Inga - posted on 01/14/2010

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I would like to thank you all for all of the comments put up on the board. :o) It really helped me realize that one I am not alone in the matter and second it is true that the children will figure it out ! since my oldest turned three he is now saying words in both Norwiegen and English !! Thank You again for all the support and help much appreciated ! Sincerely Inga

Inga - posted on 01/14/2010

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Hi Brooke,
I totally agree about what you have said and complement you on your extensive reserch and education about the sbuject. To just update a litttle my oldest has just turned three and he now repeats what I say. So now I say my sentences in both languages and he copies right along ! It is so great ! He was just busy at two years absorbing the info now he is able to put it out there in words to me and the family foe that matter. So Thank You very much for your responce it was much appreciated :o)
Sincerely Inga from Norway.

Inga - posted on 01/14/2010

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Thank you very much for the advice! You have a good point about the England English part and I would just like to say since my lodest just turned three, he does repeat what I say. So I just say the same thing in the other lang. and he repeats that too ! We have really reached a mile stone !Thanx again for your advice.Sincerely Inga for Norway

Faten - posted on 12/30/2009

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With them speak norwiegen. And speak american english with your family, I think your kids are big enoghph to learn both languages

Josephine - posted on 12/29/2009

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Since your living in Normay speak english they will pick up the norwiegen from school and others around you...I am Italian American and Im teaching my daughter Italian first because its easier to learn young and she will pick up the English from other children

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Studies do show that teaching children different languages from a young age uses a part of the brain that will help them with learning new things when they get older. Same principal with musical instruments. You will be surprised at how easy it will be for your children to learn both. Start it now and it will become normal for them, they won't know any different.

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Baby will learn both languages if one person speaks norwiegen to him/her and another speaks english.

Laura - posted on 12/29/2009

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I know everyone else has said it a few times, but speak both - they will learn the correct grammar later.. don't worry about that. It is more beneficial for them to learn both early on.

Brooke - posted on 12/29/2009

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Inga,
I am a teaching major and have done a great deal of research on this. The best time for a child to learn another language is before the age of 5. Children exposed to 2nd languages before 5 will be able to pick up any language with much more ease as they grow older. I really encourage you to go ahead and speak both languages to your children so that they will pick them both up becoming fluent in both languages. They will be able to communicate with their friends in Norway and their family in the US and have an advantage in language the rest of their lives. As for the British dialect.... I wouldn't worry. US and UK English are similar enough that they shouldn't become confused... rather they will learn how to speak in both places.

Alexis - posted on 12/26/2009

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Whoever commented below me saying "hello your in america" is quite honestly ridiculous. First of all, YOU'RE in America, not YOUR. Secondly, it is a very useful thing for a child to know more than one language. The U.S. isn't the only country in the world. I want my son to speak fluent Spanish, & he will pick up on English in school in no time.

Tina - posted on 12/26/2009

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Quoting Jamie:



Quoting Ashley:




Quoting Jamie:

I would speak to them in the language from the country you are in. Im sorry to say but nothing annoys me more then living in the US (in AZ) and all these parents teach thier kids Spanish as a first language, then they go to school and have to take special classes to learn English. Or your out somewhere and you speak english to someone and all these speak is spanish, hello, your in America not Mexico!







Sorry but parents don't "teach" their children a language like they teach them math or reading. Kids pick it up and they pick up what they hear. Most of those children's parents don't know enough English or are not comfortable enough in English to be speaking it in their own home. If you moved to a foreign country you would not be speaking thier language in your home all the time you would be speaking English. So your children would automatically be more fluent in English. I just had to mention that... also just because they speak Spanish it does not mean they are Mexican.









If I moved to another country I wouldnt expect them to speak English, I would expect them to speak the language for thier country. Just as I think the Mexicans who cross our border into Arizona where I live (maybe you werent aware of that) should speak English not Spanish. Sorry but nothing pisses me off more then going into a store and trying to ask someone who works there a question and then not understanding me and looking at me like Im dumb, hello, if your in the US speak English.





 







I also live in AZ and my children have learned to speak BOTH English and Spanish. I am German and Polish and my parents and grandparents all spoke to us in here languages. I have lived in Mexico before and for your info there are ALOT of Mexicans" as you put it that speak English and English is also taught in most schools down there ! So if you did not speak Spanish and went down there , there would be some one to help you in English!!! In my own Opinion theres is nothing wrong with the people that have not yet learned english maybe most have tryed and are to old to pick up on it . And about there children that speak spanish in there houses and are learning to speak english in school. Nothing wrong with that At least there going to learn to speak it right . And them speaking english and spanish well give them a better furture and help them to get a better paying job since they speak both languages. Also if i remember correctly " Mexicans" are not the only culture that speak Spanish NOR the Only Race that is in the United States that does not speak English !! And i think you should open your eyes and see that the"USA" is and has and was made up of many different people of many different cultures and countrys !!!!!!!!! AND unless your Native American your family is not originlly from the USA and came here from another country which DID NOT speak English to start with and later learned English in school . We tend to forget that when it's just easyer to be racist .

Think about that the next time you open your mouth and judge people just because they speak Spanish or any of the thousands of languages that are spoken in the USA by parents and children .

Lois - posted on 12/26/2009

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BOTH... children's brain can easily adapt to two lanaguages. England English and American English is not extremely different. Some words are spelled differently- center as opposed to centre- and the stressing of some syllables in the pronounication of words... of course there's the chips as opposed to fried... bonnet of the car instead of hood. I grew up in the Caribbean, but of my relatives live in England and now I live in America. I study linguistics and I am an English and English as a Second Language teacher. Your kids will be fine. So speak to your children in both. It would be a very valuable tool and it gives them a head start for school :-).

Samantha - posted on 12/26/2009

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I would teach them both languages. I am a bilingual mom and my husband is Mexican, so we teach our children both languages. It is a great thing for them to know how to spaeak different languages.

Ashley - posted on 12/26/2009

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speak english, norwiegen and anything else youknow. my neice is 4 and can translate spanish to english for me. her parents speak both it is crazy that she can do it. she also knows who to speak what language to in the family. I read somewhere that the more languages a baby learnd the smarter they are so teach them all you know.

Courtney - posted on 12/26/2009

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Children have a knack for language! It's a built in part of all people, and it's strongest when we are very young! There may be a difference, but it is a great base for them to learn! If you study psychology you can see that young children actually can greatly benefit from exposure to multiple languages, and it's a great way for them to remain connected to their US relatives right? Norwegian can be their first language sure, and England English as something they learn in school, but it really won't hurt for them to learn English as a second language if you consistently teach them and help them understand.

Linda - posted on 12/25/2009

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I'm hispanic and American. Spanish was actually my 1st Language and I speak it very well because it is spoken at home the most. I was born here in the US so I've been around English all my life. My daughter 'understands' when I speak to her in BOTH languages. She responds well to english as well as spanish and she's only 5 months. I think you should communicate with your kids in both that way they pickup both languages from you.

Bonnie - posted on 12/25/2009

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I think you should speak both languages to them. I know children in bilingual families, and they are so smart. The parents speak to them in their native language at home and everywhere else they speak English. It works for them, and the children have no problem grasping either language. I've always heard the best time to teach them more than one language is before the age of 5, and I believe it.

Adelle - posted on 12/25/2009

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Why not teach them both Norwegian and England English since that is what they will be taught at school?! Explain to your American family that you want the kids to be educated and well versed in both languages (since they are Norwegian and live there but have English speaking family...after all English is supposed to be the Universal language, I guess) but ask them to be patient with the difference in English. This way the children will not be confused or disgruntled in thinking that what thy are being taught at school is "wrong" or confusing to them. When the kids notice the difference between the way you speak or your family to how they speak, gently explain that everyone speaks it differently and that eventually they will become comfortable with their own pronunciations, etc.

Diana - posted on 12/25/2009

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My hubby & I speak korean and we both spoke to my son in korean...
When I sent him to pre-school he didn't speak and english but kids catch on fast! in 2 weeks he was speaking english I was very impressed! There going to speak english anyway when they get older so I think it's better to teach them your language! you don't want them to forget there own language!!!

Allison - posted on 12/25/2009

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Quoting Jamie:



Quoting Ashley:




Quoting Jamie:

I would speak to them in the language from the country you are in. Im sorry to say but nothing annoys me more then living in the US (in AZ) and all these parents teach thier kids Spanish as a first language, then they go to school and have to take special classes to learn English. Or your out somewhere and you speak english to someone and all these speak is spanish, hello, your in America not Mexico!







Sorry but parents don't "teach" their children a language like they teach them math or reading. Kids pick it up and they pick up what they hear. Most of those children's parents don't know enough English or are not comfortable enough in English to be speaking it in their own home. If you moved to a foreign country you would not be speaking thier language in your home all the time you would be speaking English. So your children would automatically be more fluent in English. I just had to mention that... also just because they speak Spanish it does not mean they are Mexican.









If I moved to another country I wouldnt expect them to speak English, I would expect them to speak the language for thier country. Just as I think the Mexicans who cross our border into Arizona where I live (maybe you werent aware of that) should speak English not Spanish. Sorry but nothing pisses me off more then going into a store and trying to ask someone who works there a question and then not understanding me and looking at me like Im dumb, hello, if your in the US speak English.






I am 100% american speak English as a first language and speak VERY little Sanish. I can communicate with a spanish family on a very basic level. My child's father is straight from the border mexican. He spoke VERY little english when he got here and has taken classes to improve. But he speaks with a VERY VERY strong accent so it is hard to understand him unless you are used to it. Many of his friends also have the strong accents so they will speak to me in Spanish seeing as how I am more likely to understand them in their native tongue with their accent. many hispanics are scared to speak in English because they are so self consious and shy about it. Its not them being rude or offensive they are SCARED! 99.9% of them know exactly what you are saying.



 



But as for me my son's father is NOT in the picture right now and he is living in Oaxaca Mexico. He calls often and speaks to him in Spanish as does daddy's family and friends. I have lots of hispanic friends who speak to him in spanish but not on a daily basis. I buy all bilingual toys and will be looking into getting Muzzy and Rosetta stone to help build both language skills. My hope is for him to be trulingual speaking daddy's dialect as well. Maybe you could try to do all three.

Vilka - posted on 12/25/2009

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i plan on speaking puerto rican (spanish, which is different from mexican) so the baby can communicate wit my grandma and when i travel to puerto rico and my husband will be speaking english since thats the only language he knows.

Lena - posted on 12/24/2009

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I am also biligual. I speak Russian and English. It is so much easier for me to speak English of course, bc I grew up here, but to keep the nationality going I speak Russian. Children do not get confused, they can learn several languages at a time. I am also speaking both English and Russian to my daughter, so she is able to communicate with her grandparents.

Jessica - posted on 12/24/2009

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I would teach them both at the same time. Say a word to them first in Norwiegen and then in English. This will help them to understand both languages equally. Being that they are young it will be easier for them to learn and understand both. Hope this helps.

Stephanie - posted on 12/24/2009

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Since you live in Norway Norwiegen is a must. Do you know England English? If you do I would try to speak that to them instead of the American english. They can get a head start on their school learning!! If not, then I would still pursue American English because there are a lot of similarities.

As for you mom's that are bickering back and forth, maybe you should do so in your own private messages because you aren't helping the original mom by cluttering up her post.

Triin - posted on 12/24/2009

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I am speaking 3 languages with my son ! I speak with him estonian and my husband turkish,but since we speak english with each other he is also learning that.And he is doing great ! Mostly we talk with him in turkish,since we live in Turkey. Children learn very fast.I would absolutely talk with them in both languages ! I think it would be great for their future and easier to learn at school ;)

Arianna - posted on 12/24/2009

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I have been told time and time again, by countless people that the best way for kids to learn is have one parent speak to them soley in one language and the other soley in the other language. My daughter is half white, half mexican.... so i speak to her in english while her papa speaks to her soley in spanish. This gives them the ability to seperate the 2 languages, it may take them longer to catch on but once they do they learn really fast.

C. - posted on 12/24/2009

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Quoting Claudia:



Quoting Jamie:




Quoting Ashley:





Quoting Jamie:

I would speak to them in the language from the country you are in. Im sorry to say but nothing annoys me more then living in the US (in AZ) and all these parents teach thier kids Spanish as a first language, then they go to school and have to take special classes to learn English. Or your out somewhere and you speak english to someone and all these speak is spanish, hello, your in America not Mexico!









Sorry but parents don't "teach" their children a language like they teach them math or reading. Kids pick it up and they pick up what they hear. Most of those children's parents don't know enough English or are not comfortable enough in English to be speaking it in their own home. If you moved to a foreign country you would not be speaking thier language in your home all the time you would be speaking English. So your children would automatically be more fluent in English. I just had to mention that... also just because they speak Spanish it does not mean they are Mexican.












If I moved to another country I wouldnt expect them to speak English, I would expect them to speak the language for thier country. Just as I think the Mexicans who cross our border into Arizona where I live (maybe you werent aware of that) should speak English not Spanish. Sorry but nothing pisses me off more then going into a store and trying to ask someone who works there a question and then not understanding me and looking at me like Im dumb, hello, if your in the US speak English.









It doesn't matter the country you are in you should be able to speak whatever language you want. Yes you are in the USA but actually people that speak two languages or more are better off when finding a job or in any case. Most kids from Immigrants do not learn English while they aren't in school because their parents might not be  fluent in it. Their parents have no obligation on learning the new language. Adults unlike children can't learn a new language as fast. So you shouldn't judge or generalize people. Because like you said there are people that cross the border but not all of them are Mexicans. That we share a border with Mexico doesn't mean that only mexicans crossed that border might be people from other countries as well. Don't take it the wrong way but I think you should educate yourself a little bit more and not be that ignorant.





Ok.. They have no obligation, you're right. But they SHOULD have an obligation to learn the language if they want to be able to communicate! They come in and expect us to change our language for them.. Doesn't work that way. We are not their native country, we do not have that obligation to them. If you move to a foreign country, that obligation then becomes yours to learn their language and their customs.. It doesn't work the other way around.

C. - posted on 12/24/2009

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Quoting Jamie:



Quoting Ashley:




Quoting Jamie:

I would speak to them in the language from the country you are in. Im sorry to say but nothing annoys me more then living in the US (in AZ) and all these parents teach thier kids Spanish as a first language, then they go to school and have to take special classes to learn English. Or your out somewhere and you speak english to someone and all these speak is spanish, hello, your in America not Mexico!







Sorry but parents don't "teach" their children a language like they teach them math or reading. Kids pick it up and they pick up what they hear. Most of those children's parents don't know enough English or are not comfortable enough in English to be speaking it in their own home. If you moved to a foreign country you would not be speaking thier language in your home all the time you would be speaking English. So your children would automatically be more fluent in English. I just had to mention that... also just because they speak Spanish it does not mean they are Mexican.









If I moved to another country I wouldnt expect them to speak English, I would expect them to speak the language for thier country. Just as I think the Mexicans who cross our border into Arizona where I live (maybe you werent aware of that) should speak English not Spanish. Sorry but nothing pisses me off more then going into a store and trying to ask someone who works there a question and then not understanding me and looking at me like Im dumb, hello, if your in the US speak English.





To travel to a foreign country, you must first learn at least PART of their language.. Just to visit!!!! If you're MOVING to a foreign country, then learn the dang language!!!!! Our nation's tongue is English, not Spanish. I actually have to side with Jamie on this one.. I used to work at a store and many hispanic people would come in and expect you to know spanish right off the bat.. Uh no. And then if you tell them No habla espaniol, they get pissed! I know a few spanish words, but not that many. My thing is, if you're moving to  foreign country, learn the language and don't act like that country OWES you anything.. B/c they don't! It's not even your native land.. Why the heck SHOULD they owe you something???

C. - posted on 12/24/2009

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I say speak both! There's nothing wrong with children learning more than one language. A family friend is in the USAF and lived in Germany for a while. They had their 2nd child while they were over there and their daughter speaks fluent German and English. You say your children will learn English, not the Americanized version.. So speak all three. Explain to them that one thing in America can mean a totally different thing in England. I think speaking more than one language to children helps their brain development. They are constantly trying to figure out something in one language, while figuring it out in another. If you start this at a younger age, it will be easier for them. You know the saying, You can't teach an old dog new tricks? Well it's fairly accurate. It's rather difficult to learn something after years and years of learning it a totally different way.

Heather - posted on 12/23/2009

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both! childern have an amazing ability to pick up on different languages, my father taught me and my brother cree and english and a little french when we were young and both of us find it very easy to "latch" on to new languages! My 2 year old has a first first word in cree then in english, but no french yet mom doen't speek as much of that, and I'm sure he'll do fine in school taking up a second language if he wishes.

Samantha - posted on 12/23/2009

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Well, I don't think it would hurt to teach them how to speak American English as well. That way they can communicate with their relatives better and it could help them out later in life with a career they might choose.

Bridget - posted on 12/23/2009

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I think you should speak both. I am a teacher and have tauht many bilingual kids. I think it is a wonderful "gift" to give them

Courtney - posted on 12/23/2009

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Both. My sister in law is married to someone whose first language is Spanish. They use both languages with their son. Its good to keep both fresh in the child's mind. As far as the different dialects of English, just keep it simple. Use the most commonly used words or phrases of both areas. And yes, there is a huge difference. I always think of us in the US as speaking a convoluted, garbled English sometimes!

Crystal - posted on 12/23/2009

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Speak to them in both...i speak english and my fiance is hispanic...and i'm always yelling at him for not speakin to our daughter more in spanish. It's great for them to be able to speak both...especially when they get older. The younger u start to speak both to them the better...the younger they r the more spongey there brains r...LoL they suck everything up :) Good luck hun

Aletha - posted on 12/23/2009

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Coming from a ECE Background i would say both, i mean how many of us in our adult life can say we know more then 1 language, and how many of us wish we could speek a diffrent lang, just start them off with the main lang that they need to know and slowley get them to speek the other, even it it requires you to label things in ur home and that in both languages, it will the a great learing experience for you child(ern) and a good one for you to cause u get to teach it to them.

JoAnn - posted on 12/23/2009

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Teach them English period, and teach them Norwiegan. Whether it is British English or American, Americans will still understand them, and once they know British English, it won't be hard at all for them to catch up on the slang that is American.

Rachel - posted on 12/23/2009

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I would teach them both, but speak more in the language of your country.

I am teaching my son both English and Spanish. But I will be teaching him English first (or trying to at least) since I live in the US. My husband family is from Mexico and his parents only speak Spanish mainly due to America has made it easy for Spanish speaks by having the option of "Press 2 for Spanish" they have lived here for 21yrs and still know lil English!! So they only talk to my son in Spanish, which frustrates me as I don't want him going to school saying "Hola Como Esta". I am the only one that speaks English around him. But my MIL will be taking care of him so who knows what he learns first but I am trying to get him to learn English more since I do live in the US after all not Mexico.

Catie - posted on 12/23/2009

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I'm American and my ex (father of my kids) is Mexican. With my first one we only spoke spanish with her. When she was 3, she knew little english and went to stay with my sister a few states away for 2 months. She came back fluent in both languages. Now, with my second one, she is 2. I speak both languages with her. Sometimes once in spanish, and again in english. I think she may have a speach delay because of it. I believe that each child is different. This is what happened to me and I did it two different ways!

Elisabeth - posted on 12/23/2009

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I think you should speak the language you want to. I'm french living in england with my husband who is from turkiye... I speak only french to my daughter and he speaks only turkish to her... she will of course learn english when she'll go to nursery and school! i just think as i move to England on my own and all my family is in France it would be a shame if she cannot communicate with them....

Claudia - posted on 12/23/2009

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Quoting Jamie:



Quoting Ashley:




Quoting Jamie:

I would speak to them in the language from the country you are in. Im sorry to say but nothing annoys me more then living in the US (in AZ) and all these parents teach thier kids Spanish as a first language, then they go to school and have to take special classes to learn English. Or your out somewhere and you speak english to someone and all these speak is spanish, hello, your in America not Mexico!







Sorry but parents don't "teach" their children a language like they teach them math or reading. Kids pick it up and they pick up what they hear. Most of those children's parents don't know enough English or are not comfortable enough in English to be speaking it in their own home. If you moved to a foreign country you would not be speaking thier language in your home all the time you would be speaking English. So your children would automatically be more fluent in English. I just had to mention that... also just because they speak Spanish it does not mean they are Mexican.









If I moved to another country I wouldnt expect them to speak English, I would expect them to speak the language for thier country. Just as I think the Mexicans who cross our border into Arizona where I live (maybe you werent aware of that) should speak English not Spanish. Sorry but nothing pisses me off more then going into a store and trying to ask someone who works there a question and then not understanding me and looking at me like Im dumb, hello, if your in the US speak English.





It doesn't matter the country you are in you should be able to speak whatever language you want. Yes you are in the USA but actually people that speak two languages or more are better off when finding a job or in any case. Most kids from Immigrants do not learn English while they aren't in school because their parents might not be  fluent in it. Their parents have no obligation on learning the new language. Adults unlike children can't learn a new language as fast. So you shouldn't judge or generalize people. Because like you said there are people that cross the border but not all of them are Mexicans. That we share a border with Mexico doesn't mean that only mexicans crossed that border might be people from other countries as well. Don't take it the wrong way but I think you should educate yourself a little bit more and not be that ignorant.

Rhonda - posted on 12/22/2009

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im bilingual as well i since norwiegen is the main lang i would have one of u speak english to them while the other speaks to them in norwiegen and seeing that everywhere else they will get the main lang i was taught with my mom speakin to me in spansh and my dad english children pick up really will it is way easier for them to learn early then waitin till later the older one gets the hard it can be

Kristi - posted on 12/22/2009

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Speak and teach both! Studies have shown that learning a language causes your brain to fire off more synapses in places that you didn't have them before. Synapses are the electrical charges that happen when your brain is working and the more you have the faster you think and learn. If you choose to teach both you are giving them a nice boost.

Mary - posted on 12/22/2009

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Definitely speak both! Or as many languages as you know! There is so much research about the benefits of this. The language center in a young child's brain is so receptive. Your kids won't get confused and they will have such a huge advantage upon entering school and more so later upon entering the workforce! I know several moms using more than one language at home. One of my girlfriends speaks three languages at home! Her daughter responds appropriately to them all. I so wish I were multilingual so I could offer my kids this advantage.

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If Norwiegen is the primary language I would teach that primarily and also American. If the school will teach them English then you can incorporate that then, but I assume you would want your children to be able to talk to your American family as well? There are plenty of people who can speak more then 2 languages so your children knowing 3 so young will be very intelligent!

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