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Bi-lingual children

(3 Posts)
Bianchi Fri 30-Mar-01 19:58:39

I am English, my husband is Argentinian, I live in France and have two small children. The eldest child is two and a half. I am hoping that they will acquire English, Spanish and French. I speak mainly in English to them, and my husband mainly in Spanish and the French input is from all outsiders. Play group etc. I do sometimes worry whether three languages is asking too much from the children but at same time would love them to have these three languages under their belt with little effort later in life. Any comments? My eldest daughter seems to under stand all three but she is only saying words rather than sentences at 30 months. She has also chosen to say most of these words in French which I find quite surprising given that neither myself or my husband speak this language to her in the home.

Snow Mon 16-Apr-01 14:59:54

My husband and I are both english living in France. We have 3 children,6,3 and 9 months. At home we speak english, read stories and even watch the tv in english! My son goes to the local school where he speaks french, he plays and studies in french, for him it is completely normal to have a life like this. We have many friends who are in multilingual relationships, and the children adjust to this, speaking english to one parent, swedish, for example, to another and french outside of the home. In some families their language development is a little slower as they assimulate the different languages but very quickly (and to the envy of monolingual people)they switch from one language to the other without hesitating! How sad it is to only speak the language of the country they are living in. It causes all sorts of problems when the child then has to relate with their extended family and are unable to communicate.What a wonderful gift we as parents can bestowe on our children, the ability to speak another/several different languages.
My son can now read french and is trying to learn to read english, how pushy should I be in encouraging him to read english without hindering his schoolwork?

Numbat Thu 19-Apr-01 12:32:04

Surely, only an English-speaking board would even be having this discussion and be talking about learning two or more languages as if it were a potential problem? Snow, I'd be fairly relaxed about it if I were you. I think it's good to teach your kids to read in English and will in no way hinder their French education - as you say, bilingual people make the switch very easily. But at the same time, why be "pushy"? It might depend a bit on your future plans: do you expect to stay in France or go somewhere English-speaking? If you push a lot and then stay in France, will your son's school be able to make provision for his advanced English when they start learning it at school? Obviously he'll be able to speak it, but it could work quite well if he is still learning to write it then. We lived in Denmark for a few years and our kids went to Danish school and spoke English at home. When we came to the UK my 8-year-old son could read in English but not write, but after a bit of extra spelling tuition at the school he soon got the hang of it.

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