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how to introduce another language to a toddler?

(8 Posts)
inconceivableme Tue 09-Sep-14 11:12:22

I studied a modern European language to degree level and at that point was fluent. I still have a v good level and would like to start introducing it to my toddler. Me and DH are English native speakers and use only English at home.
What's the best way for me to introduce this second language to my child? Unfortunately there are no classes or language playgroups aimed at their age near where we live. Should I just start using the language vocab etc when reading, counting etc? Thx!

BabyOmar Thu 27-Nov-14 15:48:36

I was raised bilingual, mum and dad spoke different languages, I now have a son, dh speaks English and I speak my mother tongue with ds

Rumplestrumpet Fri 19-Dec-14 15:36:02

Hi inconceivable

Anyway, I have a similar situation (though only just pregnant, so planning ahead here!). I can't imagine my kids not speaking French, and want to give it to them as a gift in a way, so they don't have to spend years learning verb conjugations as I did! I have some friends who are experts on bilingualism (academics and bilingual) and have had the following advice:

- for full bilingualism, the best thing is for each parent to consistently speak one language to the child. This prevents mixing up languages (franglais, spanglish, etc). Sounds like it worked well for BabyOmar smile

- another way to introduce the language to the child is by having it as a game or singsong language. So read a book together in that language, get them used to the sounds, pronunciation, etc, as well as the vocab, sing nursery rhymes in that language, and watch cartoons or appropriate TV in that language.

With the internert and plethora of resources available the second option should be possible for you. I haven't decided if I'll have the confidence to speak full-time French to my kids, but I'll certainly make sure I bring it in to their lives somehow.

Best of luck!

Stripylikeatiger Fri 19-Dec-14 16:00:25

I think rumple's point about one parent only speaking one language is right but I think if you suddenly change to speaking only the new language full time it might upset and confuse your toddler.

How old is your dc? My ds is nearly 2 and he's very aware of the 2 languages we speak at home, he knows to speak English to me and dp's language to him, he understands the concept if English so if he says a word in his other language and I ask "how do you say that in English?" He replies with the English word. If your child understands the concept if different languages you could have "Spanish hour" (or whatever language it is) doing things which involve basic language first like baking and counting out the eggs/spoons of sugar, singing simple songs especially if your dc already knows the song in English. Orchard games have some fab games to develop vocabulary, shopping list is perfect.

Maybe if you start with an hour and build up the time until you have "French Sundays"

All the tv ds watches is in his minority language (makes me feel slightly less guilty about his screen time!.)

I personally would be reluctant to interact with my dc full time in a language that wasn't my mother toungue as no matter how fluent you are in a language if you haven't been brought up speaking that language I think it's harder to nurture your dc as so much of parenting comes from how your parents were with you.

I speak dp's language fluently and he speaks my language fluently but it feels really odd when I speak to my dc in dp's language (I do occasionally if we are with elderly relatives who don't understand English.)

BertieBotts Fri 19-Dec-14 16:09:19

Yes - set aside a certain time of the week/day where you only use the new language. If they're little enough then they'll just accept this as totally normal. They will to begin with speak back to you in English but as it's immersion you're going for just speak back to them in Spanish or whatever it is.

Also agree with looking for local playgroups for DC who speak that language.

I wouldn't chop and change because I think it is confusing. But set aside a certain place/time/routine to use this language and it will become a normal part of their life and they'll pick it up without really realising.

InanimateCarbonRod Fri 19-Dec-14 16:10:44

DD is bilingual. DH spoke his mother tongue only from very early on.

Rumplestrumpet Fri 19-Dec-14 17:03:34

I should add that our situation is even more complex as DH will only speak his mother tongue to the baby, so bilingualism is already a given. I'll only throw the French in to be greedy smile

I just want to save my kids the painful hours of vocab and conjugation learning !

Notmymonkeys Fri 19-Dec-14 17:43:34

Following with interest.

Both dp and my first language is English, but dp lived in France from the age of thirteen til his early twenties. His parents and brother still live there, and his brother's wife and children are French.

Dp does make an effort to speak French with the dc, but he finds it hard to maintain the habit I think because it is not actually his own 'mother tongue'.

My own French is nowhere near as good as I would like it to be, and I would really like to improve it. We have talked about having one or two days a week when we only speak French, but I just find it too frustrating!

At the moment our plan is just to keep exposing them to the language, and then when they are older send them off for 'total immersion' school holidays with their cousins. They are tiny at the moment (2.9 and 10mo), so it's not too late to try a different tack if people have suggestions.

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