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Any mums of trilingual kids out there please??

(14 Posts)
Momo36 Fri 25-Nov-11 09:43:33

My DD is 12 months. At home she is faced with three languages: one spoken by me, one my DH and one (English) by the nanny. I have never been bothered by the fact that her language acquisition will be slower. However, I am getting a bit tired of people and friends saying: 'You do realise that she will be slow in speaking right?'. My answer is always the same: 'Well, yes but when she starts speaking, she will do so in 3 languages!'.

Anyway, I would be very grateful of any mums out there in a similar situation and to her their experiences. What does 'slow' actually mean?? As in how old were they when they started speaking Hate the word anyway!!!


irregularegular Fri 25-Nov-11 09:47:03

Not me, but I have friends with children age 9 and 7 now who speak three languages. They have a German mother, Danish father and live in the UK. I don't know the details, but I don't remember then being particularly slow and they certainly aren't behind at all now.

Firsttimer7259 Fri 25-Nov-11 10:06:57

we were doing this but my DD has developmental delays so we dropped a language. From the reading i did theres no real problem but you need language consistency - ideally. There is a language/bilingualism board in the 'being a parent' section where you might get more answers if you dont get much response here.

BartletForAmerica Fri 25-Nov-11 10:53:33

I don't, but I have read quite a bit about this. Children speaking 2 or 3 languages are slightly later overall to speak each language (from memory, 6-8 months later but I might be wrong), BUT learning languages at an early age will improve learning ANYTHING later on, not just languages.

Booboostoo Fri 25-Nov-11 11:05:15

I'd be really interested in answers/experiences as well please. Momo36 I'd be really interested in keeping in touch and seeing how you get on.

DD is only 6 months old, so far too early, but DP and I are Greek, we live in France and really want her to learn English as well early on.

Luanag Sun 12-Aug-12 23:14:45

I am the mother of two trilingual daughters, who are 4 and 6 years old. I speak Italian to them and my husband, who is Iranian, speaks in Farsi to them. We live in London, and therefore they are learning English from school and outside the home. People, especially friends, used to tell me all the time that learning three languages would slow their speech development, but I didn't really experience this. By age three they were both talking English at the same level as their monolingual friends, and some times even better. And they speak three languages!

What I did experience is that their preferences and proficiency varies for the three languages. They speak English as well as their peers, their Italian is good, but they often squeeze in some English words, and their Farsi is the weakest language. I believe this is because I spend more time with them than my husband, and therefore they are more exposed to Italian than Farsi.

You may be interested in my blog that I have recently started writing about the ups and downs of bringing up two trilingual children. It's at

kaz1119 Mon 13-Aug-12 11:54:17

DD is growing up trilingual. we do OPOL; she also learns english at nursery. DD is 20 months old and has loads of words (more than I can count) and she is talking in 2-3 word phrases. her main expressive language is english but she also uses mine and DH's language (mainly single words). she also has an excellent understanding in all 3 languages. i would not say she is advanced but doing pretty well (actually better than the monolingual children of friends).

there is a lot of research about speech development in children who grow up bi/multilingual and research clearly shows that growing up with more than 1 languages does not slow speech/language development.

MaliKat Tue 14-Aug-12 20:28:38

Ours are trilingual DS is 2.9 and is beginning to put sentences together. We do OPOL and he distinguishes between us, so he speaks English to me, German at nursery and French to DH. He certainly has a more limited vocab than other children his age, but he knows everything in three languages. He also recognises what language other people speak to him in and will reply in the correct language. He understands almost everything we telutopia. His first words I think were around 14 months.

DD screams and gurgles. But she makes more sounds than DS ever did at his age 5months. I'll be interested to see when she starts talking as they say girls are quicker than boys.

dikkertjedap Tue 14-Aug-12 21:09:47

My dc are trilingual. I find the most difficult thing with OPOL that the vocabulary of the language solely taught at school tends to lag behind. I only really noticed that when tested, vocabulary in the two OPOL languages was far above the national average for that age for the two countries involved whereas English was slightly above the national average for that age.

So, I would not entirely rely on school to teach one language.

I did not notice ANY language delay whatsoever BTW.

MaliKat Tue 14-Aug-12 21:22:25

I should maybe add that DS just wasn't interested in talking/looking at books etc. he could make himself understood via pointing/signs and just wasn't bothered about speaking. He was much more advanced physically (ball catching, throwing etc) . I suspect he would have been a late talker if he was monolingual.

Pekka Tue 14-Aug-12 21:40:28

We have a 5 month old DS who will be trilingual. We are trying to do OPOL, but it is quite hard and we revert to English too often. He can already say a couple of words in my language, so we haven't experienced any delay in speech. We will see what the future holds.

Greythorne Tue 14-Aug-12 22:06:34

We're not trilingual, but we are bilingual.

We saw no noticeable language delay, although I will day neither of our DC were particularly early speakers. They were very average, with about 20-30 clear words at 18 months and short 2-3 word sentences by 2.

I would say a couple of things:

1. To succeed, you need to provide three things: quantity of exposure, consistency of exposure and need to speak all the languages.

So, for quantity, you need to make sure your LO are getting a couple of hours per day at least, I would say.

For consistency, it basically means that a one or two week holiday (or even a two month stint) in the minority language country, and then nothing the rest of the year will not work. It needs to be consistent over time, building gradually and incrementally.

And for need, this is a tricky one, because if a child knows their parents can speak the majority language, their motivation to maintain the minority is reduced. So, minority language monolingual grandparents, cousins, aunts etc. can be a great advantage.

2. My DC both started school with only the most rudimentary knowledge of the majority language.....and despite what every told us, it did take a good while for them to get to grips with the majority language. Everyone told us they would be fluent in a few weeks, which they most certainly were not. I think the language issue did complicate the first few weeks of school, settling in etc. And I would rather have had them slightly more au fait with the majority language before school, but that's not what happened for us. My DC 1 who has done three years of school is still slightly behind her monolingual peers in the majority language and yet she is advanced for her age in the minority language (English, which is fascinating, as she has never lived in an English-speaking country). However, her teachers are not concerned, she is doing extremely well at school, but there's no denying that her vocab and fluency are behind her English.

3. Be prepared to put in loads of effort to maintain all three languages. You will hear both positive ('oh, how lucky your children are, they just pick up these languages like sponges') and negative ('how will they keep up at school?' and 'oh, they have such a cute foreign accent when they speak x language' and 'aren't you worried they are going to get mixed up?' etc.)

Ignore those giving advice with no experience. Be prepared for a long, hard concerted effort on your part to get all three language established and then maintained.

Good luck.

ThreadWatcher Tue 14-Aug-12 22:15:32

I suspect most people that are critical are actually quite jealous of the marvellous opportunity your dc are getting to be able to communicate in three languages.
I wouldnt worry about their language skills being delayed - it will all come good in the end (with the right support)

I also agree that you should ignore those who offer advice but have no experience themselves. I have no experience so you really should ignore me grin
I myself am jealous and would love to be able to offer my dc the opportunity to be bilingual/trilingual.

Go for it smile

ThorOdin Tue 29-Jul-14 12:26:33

We have a nearly 2 yo daughter,

At home, we speak 3 languages:
1)L1- mother tonge: Mandarin Chinese
2)L2- father tonge : French
3)L3- community language (English)

We practice One Person One Language (OPOL).

So far so good, but she counts 1 to 10 with a mix of 3 languages...

Shall I worry ?

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