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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

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


I agree with everything in your last post.

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 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 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 00:18:38

Sorry, once again:

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:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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.

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.

brokenk Sat 13-Jul-13 14:38:21

My both older kids can speak fluently 2 languages
But I m worried about my DC3
He preffer English so Im not sure if I should keep trying

FloweryOwl Wed 10-Jul-13 21:27:41

I'm the opposite. My mother is English my father is Spanish and I regret not teaching my eldest (youngest is only 5 months) to speak Spanish from day one.

I have always spoken to her in English, with the odd Spanish sentence but only because her father knows very little Spanish.

I lived in Spain from 5 to 17 years old so did most of my schooling there and was spoken to in both languages from birth and never had any problems.I have now been in England for the last 6 years and dd is 3 and a half.

She speaks very little Spanish and I regret not starting sooner.

kelda Fri 28-Jun-13 06:43:35

I actually ment 'babies' and very young children; I didn't really mean older children.

cory Thu 27-Jun-13 21:40:39

"I agree with what someone pointed out; you don't teach language to children, they acquire it."

Depends on the age of the child. My mother taught me English from the age of 6. This had nothing to do with a bilingual environment, she was not bilingual but had a degree in English: our reading sessions were very formal with grammar excercises and principal parts of the verb. I was 11 before I first had the chance to meet a native speaker. It was still a very good foundation and in many ways a life-changing experience.

My own children have grown up in a bilingual environment which is a totally different thing. But even so, dd at least has always been very interested in discussing the different languages as languages, their differences and how they work. She wasn't even two when you could give her a word and ask her to translate it into the other language, or point to an object and ask what that was in English.

Fazerina Tue 25-Jun-13 15:14:04

To be honest OP, I don't think you'd be giving your DC 'a headstart' in any way, as you wouldn't be able to create an environment where your DC became a fluent Russian speaker. Of course, you might spark an interest in learning languages in general though.

You could be able to teach him a few words here and there and perhaps a few nursery rhymes, which is a fun thing of course. I still remember nursery rhymes in Italian, Hungarian and Japanese that were randomly taught to me as a child and I find it a funny thing to surprise people with. Although I consider myself multilingual (I speak three languages to native level), I speak none of the abovementioned languages at all.

I agree with what someone pointed out; you don't teach language to children, they acquire it. In my experience, what is hard work is not so much speaking your own language to your child, but to try not to get frustrated, when he doesn't respond to you in that language. It's very difficult to create an environment, where the child experiences the need to speak your language without many people around you that speak your language. Despite the DVDs, books and music CDs, my DS prefers to respond in English, even though he understands my language, because only one person modelling that language is not encouraging enough for him to try and copy it IYSWIM.

kelda Tue 25-Jun-13 08:25:05

No not at all. Although as someone has pointed out, you do not teach a child a language.

And I say that as a parent of a child with a very severe speech disorder. The professionals all drop their jaws in amazement when they realise just how good he is at both languages - I am very proud of him.

TheBirdsFellDownToDingADong Tue 25-Jun-13 08:11:34

You don't teach babies a language.

They acquire (as many as they are continually exposed to) from the native speakers around them.

Facilitating the acquisition of the parent's native language should never feel like hard work. You're just speaking to the child. In your own language.

I think OP, you'd feel happier about the odd sentence/word in Russian that you are exposing the child to if you stopped thinking about it and just did it. (without concentrating on any didactic goals) Dd and I exchange the odd expression in Spanish now she's learning it (she is bilingual Italian/English) but I don't ever stop and actively think "oh time to insert a Spanish phrase!" (IYSWIM)

Fazerina Tue 25-Jun-13 02:14:11

My DS is 2.1 and is raised somewhat trilingually. Both myself and DH speak our native languages to him to a varying degree and we live in the UK, so English is the majority language (plus we speak English at home to each other).

I'm finding it very tough at times to keep speaking my language and DS doesn't really say many words in mine, let alone DH's language, as English dominates our lives.

I do regret speaking my language to him sometimes, as it's so much extra work and takes a lot of effort. Most of the time our 'conversations' are DS saying words in English and me saying 'yes DS, it's a car/duck/doggie etc.' In my language so I don't think he's really learning it, as he just speaks English mostly.

LoveSewingBee Sat 01-Jun-13 20:56:07

I agree with Natation.

Ime teaching (and learning for that matter) a language is very hard work and requires long-term commitment. Benefits need to be clear with plenty of opportunity to practise in ideally a natural environment.

I have come across too many so-called bilingual kids who end up with below average skills in both languages hampering their education.

tabitha8 Fri 31-May-13 22:19:25

I've been learning a second language with DS since he was aged about 1.5, so no immersion here smile. It's working well. He'll certainly have a huge head start when he begins school and it's good for my brain, too.
He's four now.

MultilingualBabySitter Fri 31-May-13 16:44:53

8 years is a little bit too late. I don't understand with is wrong with "teaching a language". I was taught in my childhood a second language (not by native ), just somebody who has a good level, then "come" another language, and I kept going so now I speak and write at a professional level six languages.I mean not similar languages ,like only Slavonic or only Nordic.Just start, children absorb everything.It depends how you teach them.I have even published articles on this subject.

littlemissbroody26 Wed 18-Jul-12 11:45:34

I think singing and stories in russian is a great idea, also it would be lovely if you incorporated some russian traditions into your everyday life s you child gets interested in the country aswell as learning the language...

Lala29 Sat 14-Jul-12 19:09:10

I am Russian originally, so we decided to bring DD up bilingually. I also disagree that teaching a language at an early age is pointless and won't make them fluent. Yes, at the time, they won't be, but Later on in life, it will probably be a lot easier for them to learn languages.

My dad taught me English from when I was 4 ( I am horrified now, as he's got the worst accent!) and no, I wasn't bilingual within a few years at all. But we came to live in England when I was 13 and within a couple of years, you wouldn't know I wasn't born here (no accent at all apart from regional one). Children of my parents' friends who came here at the same time still speak with an accent. I have also found languages much easier to learn since then and am now fluent in German and currently learning Spanish.

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