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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Pregnancy and Parenting » Multilingual Mommies and Daddies

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Author Topic: Multilingual Mommies and Daddies
Gumdrop Girl
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If you are multilingual, how do you feel about raising your children with more than one language? Would you do it as a means of preserving a sense of heritage? A useful skill? Would you *not* teach them your other language because it doesn't seem to be useful in the environment you live in now?

I'm bilingual, and while i don't have children yet, for the ones i may have in the future, i'd like for them to know the language i grew up with (Thai). trouble is, while English isn't my first language, it has edged out Thai as my dominant language. I worry that if I try to teach Thai to them, i'd just screw it up. But i would like for them to know some of it. the grandparents would be thrilled, for one thing.

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Posts: 12677 | From: Los Angeles, CA ... somewhere off the 10 | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bobolink
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I can't think I have ever known anyone who was messed up by being fluent in 2 or more languages. Usually they end up with a head start over kids who are unilingual. I believe that ther are some studies to show that children who are raised bilingual have an easier time acquiring a 3rd or 4th language simply because their brains have become atuned to working in more than one language. I have a niece being brought up bilingual English/French which, in Canada, will give her an advantage over unilingual anglophones or francophones.

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We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

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Heather
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Agreement on those studies.

Too, having worked for years in early childhood education and really done work here and looked at multi-lingual teaching, very young children are FAR more absorbent for languages than they are once they hit elementary school and beyond. It's astounding how easily fluent in numerous languages small kids can get just by being immersed, and they tend to retain really well.

Personally, I say if you can, do. Knowing more than one langauge is pretty much always going to be beneficial.

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Heather Corinna
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kythryne
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I didn't grow up in a bilingual household, but I did learn to speak Spanish at a very young age, and I remember that I picked it up very easily. I'm now only semi-fluent, as I hardly ever have occasion to speak it anymore, but if I'm in a multi-lingual environment for any length of time, I can remember more than enough to carry on a conversation, albeit with frightfully bad grammar.

The only downside I see to being multi-lingual is not realizing when you're switching between languages. I occasionally slip back and forth between English and Spanish, and don't even realize it until I notice that people are looking at me in a puzzled sort of way.

And I still occasionally think or dream in Spanish, too. So yes, it sticks quite nicely when it's learned young.

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Kythryne Aisling
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Celtic Daisy
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I'm not from a multilingual family, but i would love it if i was. My dad grew up with ukranian and english, and while he never really speaks it, he does know a great deal and could easily tell me what most words mean and could carry on a not-too-difficult conversation. Because hardly anyone on that side of the family that grew up with the language is living, we just don't use it much anymore. He also knows a great deal of french, but i don't really know why.

I would have loved to be raised with another language. Especially ukranian, so i could've known what my great grandma was saying in the last years of her life, and so when i was watching home videos i could know what the not-so-great english speaking relatives were saying.

I would definatly teach my child another language, if i had one to teach, heh. I think it's a fabulous gift for a child, and could definatly better the language skills.

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Ashy
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If I have kids, I would love to teach them a language other than English.

For reasons unknown to me, my mother never taught Vietnamese to my sister and I, unlike all of our relatives from my mom's side. So I couldn't (and still can't) interact with my mom's side of the family that well, which is a bit irritating. Nor can I communicate with my mother that well sometimes--her English is not quite perfect. Furthermore, I learned how to talk by myself since I was home alone a lot, and I didn't learn how to do it properly--I lisped on "r"s and "s"s and it was really detrimental to my self esteem and it still remains an issue today, although it's gotten much better. For some reason, I've always been convinced that if I learned Vietnamese, I could "make up" for the lisp by speaking another language.

So I would want my kids to speak more than one language due to the classic "I want my kids to have a better life than I did" syndrome. I'm learning Spanish right now, so I think it'd be a wonderful opportunity for them to enrich their minds and it's also good for job opportunities in the future.

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Ash
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xJudy
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I am raising a bilingual child! It was not intentional... I am American and my boyfriend is English but speaks French (we are in France). From what I understand about raising children with multiple languages, the best way is to have each parent speaking only in one language. Since I do not understand French very much and my boyfriend doesn't like the language, we ONLY speak English at home. Even so, my daughter has picked up a few french words, and I think it's really cool.

Being multilingual doesn't "mess kids up" at all, but one thing that can be worrying is having two language to sort through can delay their speaking. It's not a big deal - instead of starting to talk at 9-12 months like other children we know, she has only JUST started to speak at 18 mo. She says "cou-cou" and "bijou" and "oui" and also "no", "mommy", "uhoh" and maybe a few other things.


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SlowCookie
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Like Gummy, English wasn't my first language either. However, by now, my Vietnamese is quite poor. I'm fluent enough as to where I can get from point A to point B but when it comes elaborate adjectives and eloquent sentences, I'm at a lost. I also wish I could write in Vietnamese, but I can't do that either. (When I visited Vietnam 5 years ago, I went to a local bookstore and bought all the grade school grammar books, in hopes that I'd learn something. There I was trying to write "cat" and "dog" ).

I try to preserve my Vietnamese, what ever is left of it, by speaking to my parents in Vietnamese only. However, my sentences usually sound quite butchered, and I have to pause alot to think of words. Oftentimes, I need to use English words to replace the ones that I can't think of in Vietnamese.

I really don't want to lose it all. I want to be able to teach my kids to speak Vietnamese, even if their other parent doesn't speak it. I want them to be able to speak to their grandparents in Vietnamese, especially since my mom doesn't understand English that well anyway. I don't know what it is or why, but I'd really like my kids to be able to speak to their grandparents in Vietnamese.


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