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Can I speak 2 minority languages to DS?

(9 Posts)
Maia290 Sun 28-Oct-12 14:58:28

DS is now 18 months old, I've been speaking to him in my mother tongue language (Catalan), DH is English so speaks to him in English, we live in England, and DS attends nursery in English.
I would like DS to be able to speak Spanish aswell, as I can speak it fluently. But I am worried that I will confuse DS, as he won't know when I am speaking to him in Catalan and when I'm speaking to him in Spanish.
I am thinking to introduce Spanish to DS through reading books and watching DVDs, not so much speaking directly to him in Spanish, to avoid him getting confused. Catalan and Spanish are similar languages, both romance languages.
Have you taught your child 2 minority languages to your children, do they get confused? Is it better to introduce a second minority language at a later date, when he is able to speak in main and minority language?

No direct experience (although DCs can speak and sign(Bsl), I think as long as your DS has a language to think in, at such a young age they can adapt well to learning languages.

natation Wed 31-Oct-12 14:21:41

It's pretty usual practice throughout the world, it must be common in Catalunya too, your problem is your lack of support in the outside environment. I do know an Indian family who manage to speak 2 Indian languages AND English at home, the children have flawless French which they picked up to that level in a year, I don't of course speak the Indian languages so don't know the level of them. I also know a boy who also has Spanish and Catalan at home from the same parent and has English in school, he cannot speak any of these languages fluently at age almost 4 and his comprehension in English is almost nil, he's probably the worst example. I think you'll have to do some reading around the subject. Perhaps introduce Spanish in conjunction with a Spanish mums and tots?

MIFLAW Wed 31-Oct-12 17:33:26

I think the research shows that, in terms of language separation, this would not cause confusion for the child, as long as the child has some way of working out which language you're speaking (this is why OPOL, one parent one language, is so popular).

i think your real problem would come from getting a broad enough exposure. Even in OPOL, the parent in the "wrong" country is responsible for giving the child the full language experience single handedly. This is why girls brought up by minority language fathers often have an "unladylike" turn of phrase and vice versa, not that that matters but it does show what happens. If there's anything that you don't discuss with your child, any language forms or vocab you don't use, his/her chance of picking them up is massively decreased, whereas if you were in your own country the community would take care of it.

If you then speak two languages, the time each language gets is halved (more or less) and this problem is exacerbated.

I think you would want all the back up you can get in the way of books, songs, DVDs, time spent in the appropriate countries etc and you would need this back up in both minority languages.

good luck!

Maia290 Mon 26-Nov-12 21:01:27

Thank you all for your messages.
Is any mum here speaking 2 languages to their children? What approach do you take, do you use one of the languages as the main language and use the other one just during playtime/ reading stories? or do you speak one language during the weekdays and the other one during weekends?
As this is opposed to OPOL (One Parent One Language) which is the recommended approach, how do you deal with it? As I am not sure how to do it, and most of all I don't want to confuse my child. But at the same time I would like him to learn both languages.

ImpYCelyn Mon 26-Nov-12 21:19:22

I speak French and English to my sons. I don't like the set up of OPOL, as I don't like the idea that DH and I can't be bilingual around our bilingual children, we'd have to be one or the other. Not to mention that in many parts of the world bilingualism is normal, and people don't do OPOL.

I don't make a distinction between when I speak one or the other, as I think if I did that they would end up with strange vocabulary or gaps. I just speak them as and when I want to.

If I speak to DS in French and he replies in English then I get him to say it again in French. DS1 is only 2.1 so he's really just beginning to speak, but it seems to work. If I speak French he calls me maman, if I speak English he calls me mummy.

sashh Tue 27-Nov-12 09:27:44

I don't know how successful it is but I have heard of families who speak a different language on different days.

AussieCelt Sun 16-Dec-12 01:27:44

It can be done, you just need to create a context. I know a couple of people using different methods but with a similar theme: one uses morning language A, afternoon language B; the other uses alternate days, alternate languages. It works reasonably well. You could do version of this of language A on weekdays and language B on weekends. It would need to be something that works for your particular situation.

spaghettibolognese Tue 29-Jan-13 01:12:20

Hi there, I grew up trilingual in an English-speaking country, with each of the 3 languages being vastly different from the other. I don't recall learning any of them, but I think English came last. IMO it's never too early to start them with another language, but make it natural and make it fun!

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