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Has anyone regretted teaching their baby a second language?

(37 Posts)
Nigglenaggle Tue 10-Jul-12 21:20:27

Just read the message from the lady who thought she had given her son a stammer trying to teach him a second language and wondered if anyone had regretted trying to teach a baby a second language? We hope to teach our son Russian but as neither of us is a native speaker we wont be able to go for the one parent teaching each language approach

ninani Sat 13-Jul-13 15:05:34

Fazerina youn must know by now that the reason why your son isn't fluent in your languages is because you respond to him in English. IME when parents who speak 50% their own language and 50% english their children tend to speak only english. I speak my language, my husband his own and I and my husband speak english toone another as there is no other way. My husband was born here and is fluent but he insists that our children ONLY speak to him in his own language. He was taught by his mother who was trilingual and very fluent in english but chose to not speak any english to her children so that they would learn the other languages properly.

Our children are trilingual (at least) and we get lots of comments, even from school about how advanced their vocabulary is compared to other children's so no, being bilingual doesn't hinder their vocabulary, it actually enriches it. If they don't understand a word in my language I just translate it into english and it registers immediately.

I would never dare to converse with our children in english though: my accent is really bad and they wouldn't learn properly!!!! blush I do read to them though and have tought them reading before they started school and explain things when it has to be done.

cory Sun 14-Jul-13 10:09:40

ninani Sat 13-Jul-13 15:05:34
"Fazerina youn must know by now that the reason why your son isn't fluent in your languages is because you respond to him in English. IME when parents who speak 50% their own language and 50% english their children tend to speak only english."

That really depends on all sorts of factors. Families are all different and one size doesn't fit everyone.

Dh and I both speak each other's languages: our children are still well and truly bilingual. In our case we have been able to find other ways to compensate and make the minority language attractive: really good books and plenty of bedtime stories, visits to my country, visits from my relatives etc.

My reason for speaking both languages was that I realised that dh wasn't actually very well up in English nursery rhymes or children's books or any other cultural aspect of childhood: it seemed a shame that dc should miss out when I had that knowledge in two languages. And now that they are older, I am better placed to help them with their homework, coach dd in her am dram parts and discuss her English literature reading list, because in some ways I have had a better education in two cultures than dh has had in one. He has other things he can teach them.

Littleen Mon 05-Aug-13 20:53:59

I started learning English on a trip to USA when I was 5, and had it at school - am bilingual now and most English people can't hear an accent with me. Also learnt swedish from yearly holidays (2 weeks a year) there, so it doesn't necessarily have to be a huge amount of teaching going on. We will probably speak one language each to the little one, Norwegian and English, as it's important for us that s/he is equally familiar with both cultures. A lady I know taught her kids both words of everything, like, if the child asked "what's that?" she would reply with both English and Norwegian word, and that seems to have worked really well smile

Vietnammark Fri 30-Aug-13 17:32:20

This research suggests that there is a correlation between early multilingualism and stuttering:

Vietnammark Fri 30-Aug-13 17:33:11


CoteDAzur Fri 30-Aug-13 17:36:20

There is also a significant positive correlation between bilingualism and intelligence.

Vietnammark Sat 31-Aug-13 00:17:38

Yes, but this was not the Ops question, and I believe he correlation you mention may be more relevant to sequential bilinguals as proposed to simultaneous bilinguals:

Vietnammark Sat 31-Aug-13 00:18:38

Sorry, once again:

CoteDAzur Sat 31-Aug-13 07:13:56

That link doesn't say anything about intelligence.

Re stuttering - I live in a uniquely multicultural place, where almost everyone is bilingual and most people are trilingual. My DC are trilingual from birth. All their friends are at least bilingual, most are trilingual (in different languages).

I have not met not heard of anyone with a stutter.

Vietnammark Sat 31-Aug-13 10:48:56

No it doesn't directly say this, but this is what I, rightly or wrongly, infer.

I believe being multilingual is great, but sometimes people just pick up on any old research or newspaper headline to reinforce their beliefs.

Let's say it takes a 1,000 hours of studying/immersion to learn a foreign language well. I would think that this 1,000 hours of studying would have a positive effect on the brain, but wouldn't 1,000 hours of studying chess/maths/juggling also have a positive effect?

I feel that it is the act of learning that makes one more intelligent and not necessarily the act of learning an additional language.

I do know a couple of multilingual kids with stutters, but I do know quite a lot of multilingual kids.

CoteDAzur Sat 31-Aug-13 11:09:21

Worse is people who pick up any research to reinforce their beliefs and "infer" conclusions from them that are not even in the said research.

OP - There are many advantages to speaking more than one language. If you have the opportunity/means to teach your DS Russian, go for it. My one commendation would be to find a native speaker to speak to him in Russian - babysitter, cleaner, Russian kids who don't speak English, for example.

Good old Wikipedia summarises the Cognitive Advantages to Bilingualism with links to relevant research.

Vietnammark Sat 31-Aug-13 11:16:20


I agree with everything in your last post.

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