Trilingual... Is this a good approach?

(17 Posts)
Wildwaterfalls Wed 31-Oct-12 20:22:38

Any tips for raising DD with three languages anyone? We're currently planning the following:

- when I am with her (most of the day) we speak my language
- when DH is with her he speaks his language
- when we are all together (most evenings and weekends) we speak English, which is what DH and I speak together anyway)

Do you think this will work? Will she be confused - particularly as both of us will be using two languages, depending on whether the other parent is there?

Any thoughts / experience appreciated

natation Thu 01-Nov-12 09:00:10

you don't say where you live.
In your situation, I'd have both parents always speaking their own language to a child and using English between parents.

Wildwaterfalls Thu 01-Nov-12 09:45:35

Live in England. So do you think the best thing is for neither of us to speak English to her? She'll probably pick up something from hearing us speak to each other, but will she be alright in 11 months time when she goes to nursery and English is the key language?

Thanks for your help!

salsafanatic Fri 02-Nov-12 12:46:30

I am doing the same thing. We live in England, and me and DH speak English however we spoke speak another language with DS when adressing him directly. From what I read and been told this is the way to do it. Just remember to be consistent and be prepared for the little one t start talking a bit later, athough this is not rule. Good luck!

Wildwaterfalls Fri 02-Nov-12 18:45:38

Ooh good to hear others are doing the same! Will change our approach slightly then and also use our 'own' languages when together, when addressing DD directly.

Wildwaterfalls Fri 02-Nov-12 18:47:01

Oops sent early...

This will help us improve our knowledge of each other's languages too!

Many thanks for the advice!

natation Sat 03-Nov-12 10:31:46

As you're living in England, your child will get more than enough English from the environment. You'll know yourself already that supporting mum and dad's languages is going to be more difficult long term - family, friends, mums and tots, saturday schools, TV, books, holidays all environments to add on to hearing mum and dad speaking.

You'll probably end up speaking (when your child is old enough to speak back) in English as a family all together in social situations, as speaking your own languages when only you and loved one can understand might feel a bit awkward.

bluethimble Tue 06-Nov-12 10:42:10

We live in North Africa: my DD goes to a school where they are taught in both Arabic and French. She is learning both and speaks English at home. She's 6 and is also picking up some Berber as well. She doesn't seem to have any problems and loves the fact that she can read Arabic faster than me!!

Wildwaterfalls Tue 06-Nov-12 13:59:09

That's very encouraging! Thank you!

I agree DD and I should not be speaking my language in social situations when others won't understand.

dikkertjedap Tue 06-Nov-12 21:42:59

One of the key things is building up vocabulary. In order to do this you need to spend a lot of time telling stories/reading books etc. and it might therefore be very difficult for the parent who does not look after her during the day.

As long as she goes to nursery well before she enters reception, it shouldn't be a problem that neither of you speaks English to her. However, if she spends a lot of time in nursery, you may find that it takes a lot of effort and may take quite a while before she is fluent in your and your DH's languages.

Learning a language is very hard work, for adults but also for children.

Wildwaterfalls Wed 07-Nov-12 08:30:26

Thanks dikkertjedap (Dutch will be one of our languages smile)

Yes, I expect our languages will be most difficult, especially DH's. But we are going to make a big effort and fingers crossed it works out.

Pleased to hear the general consensus that her English will be fine, with nursery, friends etc.

Bonsoir Wed 14-Nov-12 20:31:04

Vocabulary is, indeed, the single issue that plurilingual children struggle with, even when their accent and syntax are native-speaker perfect.

I have always bought my DD (8) a lot of DVDs so that she hears good quality English being spoken every day with a range of expressions and vocabulary - she is watching a BBC DVD "Wonders of the Solar System" right now, and is completely absorbed in it. Just every day chit-chat isn't enough to build vocabulary and expression.

dikkertjedap Wed 14-Nov-12 20:32:01

Stichting Nederlands Onderwijs has a number of Saturday schools in the UK. Most have considerable waiting times, so it may be worth putting her already down now so you have the option at a later stage.

This may be a useful website and this website from the Dutch embassy in London.

I think that if you have the option it would be good for her to become fluent Dutch as it would give her the option to go to secondary school/university in the Netherlands (which is a lot cheaper smile). It is very important for her to also have some Dutch friends so she hears Dutch from more than one person (eg you).

My children are trilingual. It is possible, but it is VERY hard work and not cheap either (we have lots of books, CDs, DVDs in three languages), plus try to make sure that we visit the other two countries at least once a year for a number of weeks, so the kids experience first hand why it is worthwhile to speak the other languages.

amirah85 Wed 14-Nov-12 20:37:11

That's what we do.even when we are together we address the dcs in our own language and they switch happily between the 2,they don't use english with us,but they do sometimes between them.I don't mind using my language with DC when we r out as well,even if other people can't understand,or sometime I would say something to them in my language then repeat it in english just to be polite to the othewr person/people,if not I'll translate to them what the dc said said

giulia12 Fri 16-Nov-12 18:55:04

I was raised trilingual - my father is Italian, mother French and for the first 5 years of my life we were in the US. My parents spoke English to each other (though they are both trilingual to varying degrees) and they would mix languages up with me so even nowadays when I speak to my dad it's a mix of English and Italian. I was subsequently raised in France and refused to speak English for many years, until I went to university in the US and re-established fluency in English (i now live in the uk). I spent every summer in Italy with my cousins from ages 6-14 which helped build up the Italian. I always hear people say that each individual has to be consistent when addressing the child and always use the same language but in my case all three languages were mixed up and I learnt them all. I'm doing the same withe my daughter (though she will have to contend with 4....) hope this helps

Wildwaterfalls Fri 16-Nov-12 21:57:43

Thank you very much. I really appreciate the advice I have received on here.

Dikkertjedap - thank you particularly for the advice on Saturday schools and the useful links. Books and DVDs will be key I expect: we already have Jip en Janneke, Dikkie Dik and Nijntje lined up. I do need to conjure up some Dutch friends for DD from somewhere - haven't found any yet where we live. I expect Saturday school in due course will help.

Thanks again!

dikkertjedap Fri 16-Nov-12 22:37:53

You may also want to check the 'Kikker' books, they are hugely popular with younger children.

Also, the old fashioned children's songs and counting rhymes are very good. Many of them you can find on YouTube but there are also three 'Liedjes voor Moeder en Kind' CDs which include the texts and are very clearly sung (unlike many of the Kinderen voor Kinderen and youth choirs which can be quite difficult to actually understand). I believe that Bol.com sends some things to the UK now, otherwise contact independent book sellers (Utrecht, Groningen from experience) are willing to send to the UK.

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