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How to Raise a Bilingual or Multi-lingual Child

June 07, 2011

Our trilingual child doing Mandarin school work in Wadi Rum, Jordan



I think one of the best gifts that you can give your child  is the gift of multi-languages. Raising fluent bilingual or multi-lingual children is not easy for monolinguals like us or even polyglots and does take years of commitment, because kids can lose languages as quickly as they learn them, but childhood is the easiest time to learn languages, so well worth the effort.


"One free lunch in the world is to learn another language in early childhood." Pinker

 

 


"...know languages, know countries, know people." Solzhenitsyn

I have so much to say on this topic that I will have to break this post into three parts as it's just too long for one post. I have written about language learning via travel and how languages impact travel before, but have so much more to say, so will be writing much more, a whole series on language learning, as I have time. Out of all the different choices we have made with raising our child, one that I am so pleased about is her advanced reading, writing and speaking fluency in three very different dominant languages and how I see that deeply supporting her life already.

"Give your mind a chance to travel through foreign languages." Neil Simon



 WHY LEARN LANGUAGES?

Knowing another language, helps you know and understand another culture like nothing else and that is helpful for a more peaceful planet, so not only are you helping your child ( and many generations ahead if you also pass on the importance of language learning) but also contributing to world peace.

CAN MONOLINGUALS RAISE MULTI-LINGUAL KIDS?

We're monolinguals raising our child as a fluent-as-a-native trilingual/triliterate in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and English,from birth, so proving that it CAN be done. Sure, multi-linguals are common in a few countries, but it is extremely rare in the United States and much of the world.

With  English ( or any dominant language) as a dominant world language and your mother tongue, there is less motivation to learn others. One usually finds multi-linguals in countries where there is great motivation. It is not an accident that one finds many multi-linguals in Scandinavia, Netherlands, India and Malaysia, but so few in Spain, U.K., U.S., South America etc.

We were not sure that it could be done when we began, as we have known many fluent bilingual parents who have tried and failed to raise bilingual kids. We're still in progress and it has not been easy. We have high expectations on the level of proficiency we want in each language. I will admit it was an intimidating goal, but now in 20/20 hindsight with a 10 year old polyglot, who is fluent in 3 languages and knows bits of many languages, we are so grateful we did this. They are now part of her and that is a wonderful thing to witness.

We certainly have been helped by deep immersion in Spanish and deep immersion in Chinese through local schools, which also helped immensely with the cultural immersion,  but we committed to this goal and  began this process before birth.

Now,  with a 10 1/2 year old and hearing her speak in Chinese and Spanish, many people have asked what we have done to help her from the start, so I will explain some of our process here.



LANGUAGE LEARNING BEGINS IN THE WOMB

We started at three months pregnant as that is when babies can hear and start to learn language. I read to her every day in English and my husband read to her every day in Spanish. We both picked one book, his was "Little Red Riding Hood" in Spanish.

 It was part of our nightly ritutal and bonding process as we nested and waited. We wanted a before womb and after womb continuum of familiarity and hoped to help build a love of language and reading from the start.

Very pregnant with Mozart in our garden, she was already multi-lingual!



ONE PARENT - ONE LANGUAGE METHOD

My husband always talked to her in the womb in Spanish. His parents are fluent Spanish speakers as that was their first language, but alas they did not pass it on to their kids as it was not the way of the fifties. His parents learned English in school and always spoke it at home.

Thankfully, his grandmother from Spain refused to speak English, so he learned some basics from her. His own parents did not consider him a Spanish speaker, but he spoke enough to help our child become fluent.  He was working at that point so I also taped him reading the story, so that when he was not around, she could hear him talk to her in Spanish too.

CAN A PARENT WITH LIMITED LANGUAGE SKILLS DO THIS?

It was hard work for him and did not feel natural, but after a while he got used to it. I still remember him pointing to her eyes and saying "Oja" or mouth and saying "boca" etc daily at just a few days old and how she loved it, or a few months later them sharing a favorite open the tab book like "Donde Esta Spot" that she would open with glee at 3 months old.

We all got better at Spanish this way and we adapted to this goal fairly quickly so it soon seemed normal. When he was out with her, he would also talk to her in Spanish. Yes, that probably did seem odd to family and friends that had never heard him speak Spanish, but our goals for our child were more important than what people thought.


"It is, therefore, very important to teach students about the world beyond their own countries. What are the similarities we share and differences without friends around the world? We must understand what motivates those whose cultures and traditions are not our own. To achieve these goals, we must teach our children international education skills which include the learning of languages, cultures and traditions." Margaret Spellings,U.S. Secretary of Education

"The sum of human wisdom is not contained in any one language." Ezra Pound

 

HOW WELL IT WORKED

Later when our child was around two, we happened to find an amazing women who we hired to help us with our child's immersion. She was a teacher from Columbia who had been the head of their bilingual program and she was so impressed by the level of our child's Spanish ( like a native speaker from birth without accent),.... especially compared to her father's very weak Spanish, that she talked her sister in Columbia into doing the same thing with her baby.

Both Spanish people and Chinese people seem quite amazed at our child's accent and language ability, so that seems like a good sign. She has already and will continue to surprise many people as she does not look like she can speak, read and write Spanish and Mandarin Chinese well.

She already finds it very useful in her life and wants to learn more languages. Recently in Jordan at Petra, she saw an older couple from Spain who had limited English, trying to communicate their needs with some Jordanians and she eargerly volunteered to help translate. She regularly translates for friends and her parents. Good for her brain and empowering.

PART TWO AND THREE ON HOW TO RAISE A BILINGUAL OR MULTI-LINGUAL CHILD

Coming up next ( part 2 here) I will answer questions like what are the challenges, what are the key advantages and how can you support your child's language acquisition! Then Part 3 includes how multilingual will affect when they first talk, how to do it if you do not speak a word of the language, how to keep balance, what is fluent, and more.

I've already written these posts, but please leave any questions that I can answer here or add to a new post on this topic.






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Sattvic Family

Not only is your daughter beautiful, but she is a linguist! We want our little one to be fluent in 3; I speak French but she mainly speaks English with a dash of Thai, Italian, and Korea ( since we lived in all three countries). When did your daughter begin taking lessons in Chinese? K

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Aw, thanks for the sweet words! It's a lot of daily work for years to help a child become a fluent trilingual..so good for you!

If you always talk to your child in French and also make sure that she answers you back in French she will become fluent ( you would add the reading and writing when she is ready...although it is always best to start the reading and writing in the mother tongue or strongest one first).

Our daughter was an extremely fluent reader and writer in English before she started learning to read and write in Spanish ( even though she was fluent in speaking Spanish).

Our child was quite fluent in Mandarin Chinese when she was very young, but we have just done lessons on and off over the years. We've done some with the wonderful Johns Hopkins University online program for gifted kids and some with private teachers ( online and off).

Still I think that early immersion has been a big help.

She skipped 2 grades this year ( 5th to 7th) to enter a 1000 kid all- Mandarin school in Asia. They have a fantastic program for foreign students where they start with the 1st and 2nd grade standard Mandarin ( used in all schools) her first year and then next year she will do third and fourth grade.

This is an amazing way to get a REALLY proficient fluency and that approach worked wonderfully for her in Spain ( 5 months for 4 winters).

There are no gaps that way with the reading and writing as she is learning it just as natives do. So we are very happy we found this rare program for someone her age.

We're very eclectic unschoolers that sometimes use schools to our advantage...like for language and cultural immersion. ;)

Good luck!

Sharon Hurley Hall

Thanks for sharing this, Jeanne. It inspires me to think that anyone can do this if they are prepared to put in the effort. I look forward to reading more about how you solved any challenges that arose.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Glad to hear that Sharon, appreciate the feedback! Like most things, there are always some challenges,eh? ;)

Thankfully, her Spanish is so ingrained in her now, that we do not have to work as hard at it any more.

Keeping that up in America when she was younger was a much harder battle.

REALLY luckily too ( because it's extremely rare) she has a good friend in Malaysia who is from Mexico, so they are both happy to slip into their Spanish when together or hanging with that family.

The Mandarin reading and writing is the big challenge now, but it is coming along nicely.

This post is more about the younger years as readers with babies and toddlers have asked for it.

I think the first 5 years are the hardest with language for bilinguals/trilinguals and kind of nerve wracking too because one is never sure if one is doing it "right". ;)

Violeta

The videos of Mozart reading the story in Spanish and giving her speech in Chinese are just darling. And her accents are very good, just like you mentioned. I also love the picture of you pregnant with her. Absolutely lovely glow!

I look forward to reading the other parts of this series. I would love to know what specific resources (books, CDs, DVDs) have you (or her tutors) used and found most useful to her language acquisition. So far, for my 7-month old daughter, I have only found and liked the "Little Pim" DVDs and I got them in five languages (Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, French and German). I use them mostly for sound exposure, and I try to put one DVD on every day and of course repeat the words or the phrases to my daughter as the DVD is playing. The Chinese and Arabic are hard, as we don't speak those languages, but it is fun to learn them at the same time with her. I also plan to take her to Spanish and French music classes this fall - though she has been hearing songs in those 2 languages for 7 months now! And of course, we speak English and our mother tongue to her in daily talk, though we should probably implement the one parent one language rule. We both speak both languages to her, just like we do anyway between ourselves, but we may confuse her more than help.

And speaking of music, I would also love to read about your and Mozart's musical journey. I think it is even more fascinating how you were able to raise such a talented musician when neither of you are musicians. I mentioned you to the piano teacher and director of the Music Together program we are taking for my daughter and how Mozart played the violin since 2 and they immediately said, "the parents must be musicians, there is no way otherwise". And I said, "actually I don't think they are, so apparently there is a way". They were recommending to wait until the child is 5 to take instrument lessons.

Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading the rest of it.

Violeta

Samyukta

My husband and I are both tri-lingual and we're struggling to keep our once fluently bilingual toddler bilingual. Everything worked great till he started Kindergarten in the US.. in the one year he's been in school, he's completely stopped speaking Tamizh and will only respond in English even if addressed in Tamizh.

How did you get past that hump if your daughter was schooled partly in the US?

Also, how did you eliminate any traces of accent in her Spanish if your husband only spoke the language weakly (I am assuming it was accented?) My son's tamizh when he chooses to speak is heavily Americanized, which makes peers who are fluent pick on him, which in turn makes him self-conscious and he speaks the language even less... it's a slippery slope to the point where he now won't even try to speak anything other than English and he's only 5! I feel sad that he's "losing" a language. He was perfectly fluent till he turned 4.

Lori - The Unframed World

Wow! I'm so glad you shared about your daughter. I've always thought it would be great to raise my child to be bilingual or maybe more, but thought it wouldn't be possible without knowing the language myself. Thanks for proving that wrong!

jeanne @soultravelers3

Samyukta - Yes, you are right it IS very hard raising a bilingual/multi-lingual child in a land where another language is dominant.

That is why so many fail to do it and we DID have problems keeping it up.

The key is to make sure that you are speaking it at home and immersing as much as possible...AND making sure that he ALWAYS answers back in the 2nd language.

That is harder to do in an all English environment and he won't want to do that, but the bilinguals who succeed, do that.

If you can, try to find some other kids/families that are doing that in your language...that helps a lot.

You are right to be concerned, but since he was fluent until he was 4, you can get through this hump. But this is the work of it, making sure the child ...especially a young child is speaking it and immersed daily.

If you can, spend time where his second language is dominant..that helps them understand the value of the language. And instill in him the value and why you want him to keep it and pass it onto his kids some day.Let him know how special it is to be a bilingual.

Yes, my husband's Spanish is very accented and extremely weak in vocab. That's why our Columbia teacher was totally amazed at how perfect our child's Spanish was.

We actually didn't realize how badly his Spanish accent was ( sounded good to me) but she told us it was and that his Dad's was perfect ( no wonder it was his first language for 5 years).

But sadly, Grandpa did not help us at all and would only talk to her in English as he didn't really "get" what we were doing. He finally got it when he came to Spain and they both talked a lot of Spanish together there when she was 6 and he was 80.

We did so much immersion with native speakers who did not have accents ( play group, helpers etc) that it must have helped her accent.

She also watched Sesame street daily in Spanish etc so had lots of exposure to native speakers. Getting lots of daily Spanish in from birth to 5 was a LOT of work/effort...but it paid off in the end.

Now she has a bit of an Andalusian accent in her Spanish we hear, but we decided to not worry about that as the areas where she could get a perfect Spanish accent were too cold in the winter.

It's not been a problem with our Mexican friends in Malaysia or any where else and since we will do more traveling in Spanish speaking countries, I am sure it will change a bit over time.

Don't give up on your child, you can turn this around again. The key will be getting him to speak it daily.

Our Mandarin was much harder to maintain, so she lost some for a while, but no language learning is completely lost and her Mandarin fluency in her early years is making it easier for her now.

BUT if you don't keep up the fluency of his last 4 years, he can lose it and get even less confident or be a recessive. ( Someone who understands a language, but doesn't really speak it).

I've even seen kids lose their native tongues when they moved to an environment where it was not spoken..even as old as 10..which surprised me. Languages need to be spoken daily to be kept up ( especially in the early years).

Now my child does not need to speak Spanish daily, but we do keep it up with at least weekly reading, writing, speaking, watching movies in it etc.

Had we not put her in a school in a country that was dominant in her 2nd language ( had we just homeschooled in Spain) she would not be nearly as fluent as she is today.

jeanne @soultravelers3

Aw, thanks so much Violeta!

The pregnancy photo was taken just a week before she was born at my "blessing way" gathering.

Compiling all the different resources that we have used for languages for the last 10 years will be quite a job and some may no longer be on the market.

I do remember that someone had suggested that we get sesame street in Spanish ( not easy to find at that time..2000..but we did) and that was a key for us.

Also I think the Mandarin video ( yes it was video then, not dvd) that she liked a lot was called "little sprouts".

I've never heard of "Little Pim" DVDs so it was probably not around when she was a baby.

Mainly I just scoured the internet, book stores, libraries etc for any and every resource that I could find.Looked for hands on opportunities every where.

I did have a tape of "motherese" in all the major languages that I played for her. I can't find it online now, but since kids start specializing in only languages they hear after 6 months, it was suppose to give them exposure to the sounds of many correct accent sounds to help later.

I'll have to do some research to do that big compile post so probably will do that next winter when I have more time.

Songs and singing are so great for learning languages, we did a LOT of that.

Yes, the one parent one language helps a LOT with the confusion. I'd pick the parent who spends the most time with her to do the 2nd language as she will have a ton of opportunity to pick up the dominant language.

Or if either of you speak other languages, you can each do a foreign language with her always with her and speak normally to each other and let her get the dominant language from the environment.

Our friends in Spain did that..he only spoke English to the kids ( and them back to him..KEY), she spoke Italian to them only, and the kids picked up the Spanish through preschools etc.When they moved to UK, they switched.

Great idea about posting about our musical journey. I wrote some of it here:
http://www.soultravelers3.com/2009/07/family-travel-photoengland-globe-theatre-king-lear.html

But could give a lot more info. Her starting violin at 23 months is very usual and actually happened by accident.

We happened to have an amazing violin teacher who lived in our country neighborhood so all the kids played violin thus she liked that idea.

It is more common to start musical instruments at 5 or 6, but this teacher was so excellent with little ones, it just made sense. ( She has 7 kids of her own and started teaching when she was at Yale and her mom was a violin teacher too).

She usually didn't take them until 3, but kidlet had excellent hand coordination and interest, so she was just ready earlier.Suzuki is a "mother tongue" approach so good with little ones and the mom/parents learn too...but the kids soon surpass).

Mozart always had a big interest in performance and loved it so those opportunities were also very important to this particular child. Suzuki students learn by ear, so mixing with a more traditional approach with piano allowed her to learn musical reading earlier.

We loved music together and were regulars from about 3 months on until we left. We also did other music programs like kindermusik.

Had I known how much daily practice work for 2 languages and 2 instruments for many YEARS, I am not sure I would have done it. LOL

She would have been better at music instruments had we stayed in one place, but probably much weaker in languages and world experience..so always juggling priorities as a parent...trying to find that win/win place. ;)

Violeta

Thanks, Jeanne, for your detailed response and long comment. I will look for the videos you mentioned. The "motherse" tapes sound great, had no idea they've made those, but that was my intention when I got the Little Pim collections - exposure to foreign language sounds in a consistent format. In case any readers are interested, here is the link to their website http://www.littlepim.com/. I've seem them sold at Giggle (the baby store) and at a discount on Gilt (the online store). They teach a limited vocabulary, but for babies and very young kids, they seem ok.

I agree that the immersion in the foreign language (through school, playgroups, babysitters, etc) is key. And you are so right about kids of bilingual parents turning out to be recessive. I see it all the times with our friends, it is so frustrating for parents and understandably so. Sometimes kids seem to have lost the (foreign) language completely, but it is still somewhere in them. What I have seen with some kids was that all it took for the language to come back in full force and at a native level was a long trip (at least a month) to the native land of their parents (or the foreign country) over the summer, visiting with grandparents who did not speak English or any other language than their mother tongue, playing with local kids and Bingo the language ability reappeared miraculously. I've seen it over and over again and that is my last resort/trick I'll keep in mind. I've already told my family and friends who live in foreign countries that they should expect to host my daughter over several summers - she will do a tour, with or without us :-). If that is not an option, perhaps foreign language summer camps or simply just traveling to that area may help. Also finding mom's groups on sites like meetup.com who are centered around one foreign language seems to be an option for parents interested in foreign languages. In big cities there is no shortage of those type of groups (if you cannot find one, just start one and others will likely join) and they are free and fun ways to make new friends and help with foreign language maintenance.

I know from experience that if you don't use a language, you lose the fluency no matter when you learned it. You may remember bits and pieces, be able to understand some of it, and may be easier to come back, but it is so much harder to reacquire it than just keep it by daily, or at least weekly, usage. It happened to me, over and over again, with several languages.

The gift of foreign languages is one of the best gifts a parent can give a child. It expands the mind and opens up so many possibilities. I hope your post(s) will inspire others to start and continue on their foreign language journey - just like it did for me.

Thanks again.

Sattvic Family

Thank you SO much for your response! I really must speak only French to kaya; I myself must brush up on the reading writing ( as well as expanding my vocab in general).
Thank you for recommending the Hopkins program, we will check that out!!

jeanne @soultravelers3


Thanks Violeta and for the link!

Yes, indeed, languages must be used daily with young child and they MUST be speaking back if you want it to work.

Finding ways to immerse at home and outside the home is essential. My good friend gets teased by family about her mother tongue ..which is very poor now because she rarely uses it despite being her main language for over 20 years. Languages need to be used to stay strong.

I wrote about family camps in France and they are great and cheap way to also immerse.


http://www.soultravelers3.com/2010/08/camping-europe-with-kids-free-kids-clubs-family-friendly-international-travel-tips.html

In major cities it is actually easier to find places than most realize..even in our small town I did.

The key really is the determination of the mother I think or father. I have known bilinguals who tried those long journeys with grandparents, but the kids are still recessive.

Why? The parents did not have the will to make sure they did what was needed...make them speak, make them sink or swim even in an environment where grandparents didn't speak English.

Learning languages ( or instruments) are hard work..so there will be resistance. The kids that are successful have parents who have language learning or musical instrument learning etc as a priority.

It's like brushing your teeth, or eating well, or encouraging reading or music practice etc...the parents MUST support the kid daily...especially in those first 5 years.

It IS easier to give up, but with determination, you can find a way.

To me I think it is especially sad when kids can't communicate with their grandparents who speak the 2nd language.

Passing on the language is passing on the culture, so one reason we are so happy that Mozart really knows her heritage through her Spanish and time in Spain.

jeanne @soultravelers3

So glad my response was a help. Yes, only speaking French with her is the way to go. It seems odd at first, but you will both get use to it.

You will have to help her answer you in the beginning..prompting her what to parrot back.

So if she says, " I want water" you don't respond to that until she says it in French and you help her say that over and over ( each time she happens to ask for water in English) until she just does it on her own.

Speak, sing, read to her in French...but the key is to get her use to always speaking back to you in French.

She and you can both talk to her Dad in English, but your language together will be French. Voila! She will be a fluent bilingual if you do this for many years. ;)

jeanne @soultravelers3

I am always fascinated by language discussion so thanks folks!

One of the interesting things Margaret taught us is that one must enable even fluent bilinguals even in high school.

Her kids were very fluent spanish/english bilinguals that were doing a few years in an American high school.

When her son came home, she would talk to him about what he was learning in chemistry, math etc. And he would say all the new words in Spanish that she would help him with.

Why? Because when you learn something in one language..it doesn't translate for things like that. A Spanish lawyer or doctor trained in the US will not know the Spanish terms automatically.

No one has total proficiency in every language they speak, but one tries to get the most proficiency and that takes work for a long time. ;)

hinata

I am Spanish (born and bred) and I can tell you that Mozart reads very well. I don´t think that I could read at that level (at that age), despite being my first and only language. Just two questions:

-I think you said that Mozart was reading at 2 or 3. Did you use any kind of infant stimulation program?(I am referring to Doman-style flashcards or the like).

-I don´t know Chinese, but I do know that writing in that language is extremely difficult even for native speakers. It is pictorial so they have to memorize thousends of characters, in order to do well.
Didn´t she find the reading and writing too difficult to master?
Can she read an ordinary book in that language?

I would like to know this as to get an idea of how difficult it would be to write such a language.

Violeta

I agree that parents' determination is key. And sometimes that may involve difficult choices. What I've seen done is that the parents have literally left the kids with the grandparents for hours, days or weeks, so there was no other choice for the child than to use the foreign language. Sink or swim, like you said.

If I may, let me share a rather comical episode which always comes to mind first when I discuss this topic and never fails to make me smile. My friend's daughter, born in the US and at one point fluent in Romanian like her mother, was refusing to speak Romanian and pretending she does not understand it. I think she was 6 at that time. The mother knew she still understood some or most of it, but she could not make her daughter answer back in Romanian for anything in the world. They went to visit family in Romania and the mother had to leave her home alone with the grandma. The child went to use the bathroom and grandma came in after her (totally cool in that culture). She told Grandma "Please, get out of the bathroom." Grandma did not move. She said again. And again with a louder voice. Grandma was worried the child was sick and needed something, so now for sure she was not getting what was being asked and she was not going anywhere. After a couple of minutes, somehow miraculously, my friend's daughter remembered how to say in perfect Romanian "GET OUT! I need to use the bathroom and I don't want you here." Aha, so she knew how to say it. A month later when they came back, and I picked them up from the airport, not only the daughter spoke perfect Romanian, but she was doing it with the cutest accent ever. I could not get her to speak English for days. :)

jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks so much Hinata for your kind words!

We didn't do any baby program for reading. I actually was reading a lot of Waldorf things at that time, so was thinking in more of those terms.

She just really had a LOT of interest in books even as a tiny baby, so we did read a LOT to her from the start.

She initiated the reading at 2 when her preschool teacher taught her about the letters of the alphabet. She asked me about what sounds they make and learned all of the sounds in about 2o minutes. I got much of it on video because I was quite amazed.

She had a great interest, so I bought her those little BOB books etc and that was it pretty much. She was tested as reading at a 3rd grade level at 3 by her preschool teacher which is very unusual. Most will tell you that they had never seen that before.

She was reading Harry Potter at 4 ( not like she does now, because the eyes are not strong enough then, so less pages at a time)..so I think that made Spanish reading easier for her than most since she knew how to read and she knew Spanish well.

She had already done 1st grade in Ca in English ( she was only 4 and was put into 2nd grade reading etc and was better than the much older kids). But we put her in 1st grade again in Spain..but she was still the youngest because she has a fall birthday.

Yes she can read books in Mandarin and yes the reading and writing in Mandarin is hard.

She is doing first and second grade Mandarin this year ( continuing and keeping up with her class while we travel) and will do 3rd and 4th grade next year.

There is a lot of work in learning all of this, but she doesn't find it overly hard.

jeanne @soultravelers3

Cute story Violeta!

Sadly we didn't have grandparents to leave her with,(he really didn't "get" what we were doing so only spoke English to her despite our pleas)... but she got the sink or swim method in Spain and also with Mandarin via schools. ;)

Like anyone kids like to fit in and they also want to take the most comfortable choice...which is usually their dominant language which is the dominant language of the culture.

So usually there are some periods of resistance. Mozart would be MUCH more comfortable with school in Spain since she is so fluent, rather than Mandarin which is harder for her still.

Luckily she is old enough to reason with and she has seen the benefit of languages. She has also seen kids in Spain who came without a word ( MUCH much harder than what she has ever gone through) and do become fluent eventually. If they don't keep up with their mother tongue they lose part or all of it.

Had we spent the time in Spain without her being in the school for 5 months during 4 winters, she would not be as fluent.

Along with the language/s one must also instill the VALUE..even starting in babyhood and repeating regularly how important and special it is.

David

I'm not a parent but really enjoyed the article and learning about your method and the results. To give a child the opportunity to be bilingual or multi-lingual is a priceless gift. The pregnant photo is lovely too.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks so much David for your kind words! So appreciate it!

Melvin

I just saw your tweet of part 2... So I had to start reading here.

We got a 3 week old son & I was thinking of reading English books to him. I also would find it a bit strange to talk to him in English and not German, but I guess I will do it here & there.

It's amazing and tough that you taught your daughter 2 other languages! Cool & repsect!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

So happy you found it Melvin...happy to see you here and congrats again on the brand new babe!

It does seem odd to talk to a baby in another language ( really hard for my husband as he is not fluent in Spanish) but it was worth it to make her trilingual from birth.

Now Spanish and Mandarin are part of her as well as her English.Not just the language but feeling part of the cultures.

You do get use to it though, talking in a different tongue to your baby. It builds a special connection and is a great gift to give to their dendrites that will last them a lifetime.

Bilinguals from birth have very different brains than those that learn it later.

The more you speak it, the more benefit. They need to hear it at least 30% of the day, especially in babyhood. Learning a another language from birth is perhaps the best gift one can give a child.

As that MIT language expert says, it's one of the few "free lunches" in this world.

Jeanne @soultravelers3

I forgot to say thanks Melvin for your kind words and good luck!

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