Author Topic: polyglot nomadic children  (Read 3680 times)

George Rivers

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polyglot nomadic children
« on: January 08, 2018, 06:25:35 PM »
Let's get the forum party started...

Being a bilingual couple, I believe you speak English to Jr and Winnie speaks Mandarin to him.  Does this confuse Jr when encountering third languages, or do you both speak English to him now?

gocurrycracker

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Re: polyglot nomadic children
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2018, 06:48:03 PM »
I only speak English and Winnie only speaks Chinese with Jr.

Jr primarily speaks Chinese (the mother tongue...) but speaks English perfectly when he wants to. He speaks a little Japanese with the Japanese girl in our building, sings a couple Korean songs, and says good-bye in a ton of different languages (Au revoir, ciao, adios, sayōnara... he'll use the appropriate word based on who he is speaking with.)

This is as natural as walking for him. If he sees Western people he will start speaking English. When in Japan he would try speaking Chinese with people, and when they looked confused he would switch to English.

Jim

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Re: polyglot nomadic children
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2018, 06:59:49 PM »
I only speak English and Winnie only speaks Chinese with Jr.

Jr primarily speaks Chinese (the mother tongue...) but speaks English perfectly when he wants to. He speaks a little Japanese with the Japanese girl in our building, sings a couple Korean songs, and says good-bye in a ton of different languages (Au revoir, ciao, adios, sayōnara... he'll use the appropriate word based on who he is speaking with.)

That is really impressive.  I wish I personally learned more languages when I was younger and am trying to do so with my kids, but we are still stateside working towards FI.  Although, they got a few Japanese words down when we were visiting Japan last spring...so maybe there's hope.
I have a blog as I chronicle my family's journey to FI.

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Tawcan

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Re: polyglot nomadic children
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2018, 01:34:36 PM »
We are in similar situation as Jeremy & Winnie. My wife is Danish, I'm Taiwanese. My wife speaks Danish to kids most of the time, I speak Mandarin to them maybe half of the time. We also speak English to them.
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prognastat

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Re: polyglot nomadic children
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2018, 08:55:36 AM »
This is quite similar to the way I was raised where my father only spoke with me in English and my Mother only spoke to me in Dutch. It took a little longer for me to start speaking in English than it did in Dutch as everyone but my father was speaking Dutch. However I could understand it just as well as I could understand Dutch and did start speaking it maybe about a year after I started speaking in Dutch. I also was able to pick up reading in English right alongside learning to read Dutch.

It helped a lot once they started teaching English in school and also think it really expanded my horizons. I am sure without it I wouldn't currently be living in the US.

There are some quirks, not bad just interesting, with learning two languages from birth. However all in all I would say it's a great thing to do if you have parents that have different native languages.

I would say the most important thing is consistency. If they are being stubborn and when you speak with them in a specific language and they are trying to use the other language you shouldn't give in and make sure to only respond when they are using the right language. At least while they are young to avoid confusion and make sure there is a clear distinction between languages. While doing only 2 languages is quite easy because you can split if between the two parents and have each only always use one specific language. It might be more difficult to keep such a distinction with a third language.

Some possibilities I can think of off the top of my head:
- Maybe alternate the third language for specific days/on weekends vs weekdays.
- If there is a third family member your kids interact with that can speak the third language and they are willing to help have them take on that language at all times with your child.
- If it is imperative and there are no other options. Possibly enroll your kid with some kind of class/school/tutor at a young age that only teaches in said language. For example in the Netherlands there are some schools where the teachers teach all the same classes as other schools, but the teachers speak in English instead of Dutch to give a much larger exposure to the language than the kids would have otherwise to help prepare them for an international market. However chances are such schools are going to be a decent but more expensive than regular schools.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 09:03:10 AM by prognastat »

GOFU

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Re: polyglot nomadic children
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2018, 10:24:50 PM »
Cool thread.

We live in a Spanish speaking environment. South America. In our house, and everywhere for that matter, I speak 100% English to our children. Been doing it with both since they were in the womb. My wife speaks Spanish, but helps out with the English from time to time when I am not around. But not much because she is afraid of making a mistake and teaching them wrong. In our house we do only TV and movies for the kids in English. All books we read together are English. The kids, currently 3 and 2, know with whom they can speak English (Dad, and Mom a little) and Spanish (everyone else, Grandma, aunts, cousins, etc.).

My way of thinking is they have a million opportunities to learn Spanish all around them. But only I can teach them English. So I do, and I insist on the most perfect, proper, grammatically correct, accent correct American English from them. Just like my parents did from me. It is fun, fun, fun.

I read somewhere the question, "How many languages can a child learn?" And the answer was, "How many are you willing to teach him?"

It is so gratifying to have a conversation with my 3-year-old that I could not have with the 20-somethings that are trying to learn English at the local English language school, because my 3-year-old can and they cannot.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2018, 10:28:47 PM by GOFU »