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Kids languages for mixed couples ?

still_wisher 7 | 97  
7 Sep 2009 /  #1
just wondering if there are any mixed couples here with kids ,
what's the right way to teach kids the native languages and the spoken languages? and what about mixed couples with three languages ! what is the right way !

heard that it might cause kids to speak late ..
any thoughts ?
mafketis 37 | 10,853  
7 Sep 2009 /  #2
The generally accepted best way:

each parent speaks to the child primarily in their own language (and has the child respond in that language)

what's the distribution of three languages in this case? (that matters in terms of answers)

try to expose the child to monolinguals in both (or all three) languages so they have to respond in the various languages

yes, there is sometimes a delay in the onset of speaking with bilingual children, but they catch up (in both languages) quickly

Also, realize that the language of the playground trumps whatever mom and dad speak (and the language of school) and children will usually end up preferring to speak the language of the children they play with.
OP still_wisher 7 | 97  
7 Sep 2009 /  #3
thank you so much , i was only worried about this " delay " , three languages something like parents are talking in english but they both have their own language, but both of us would like to keep these three languages with kids
7 Sep 2009 /  #4
In my case, both mom and dad spoke to me in English (their native language), while our grandparents along with the part-time nanny growing up, spoke to me, really AT me, in German, their first language until round about the age of 7! After that, only in English:-)
yorkssteve - | 6  
7 Sep 2009 /  #5
Yep, we come into that category. What's crucial is discipline. The English-speaking parent must speak English, the Polish parent Polish, and stick to it.

I'm English, my wife's Polish. Our boy, now 5, was born in England and has lived all his life in England. We go back to Poland for about 4 weeks a year, where family members speak no English. We have a number of Polish friends locally in England with kids, who do all speak English. And my wife speaks English to our boy about 75% of the time. Come to think of it, the Polish only really gets used when he's getting told off!

The result? He can understand Polish, but can hardly speak it at all. He hasn't had the need to learn to actually produce Polish, because he knows he can speak English to his mum and she'll understand and respond in English. The extended visits to Poland are somewhat helpful, and by the end of a 2-week stint, he's starting to speak sentences in Polish.

But ultimately, his ability to speak Polish has been stunted by my wife's lack of discipline. I hope you learn from our mistakes!
7 Sep 2009 /  #6
Same here! Only after a fairly young age, NOONE at home spoke German to me. I only heard it in the German neighborhood where I was raised or in the schoolyard, sometimes. My folks too spoke only English to me and insisted that I so the same.

The influences were there though from such a formative age, that when I eventually studied German formally as a college freshman of seventeen, it was as though I'd grown up speaking the language all my life!
SzwedwPolsce 11 | 1,594  
8 Sep 2009 /  #7
2 native languages are never any problems for a child to learn. Their brains are different than adult ppl's.
yorkssteve - | 6  
9 Sep 2009 /  #8
Yes, but it doesn't "just happen". Rules need to be followed to guarantee success.
9 Sep 2009 /  #9
Don't know if this would qualify, but in our house growing up, ZERO German was permitted to be spoken after I turned seven!

Guess my parents didn't want to risk my developing an 'accent' in English. LOL
The happy result was, I suffered no language interference in either language:-)
Bondi 4 | 142  
11 Sep 2009 /  #10
I can only add, too, that both parents should use their native languages with the kid.

Even if there is a "third language", the kid will pick it up. I mean, if a couple use the English between each other as they don't speak each other's language, it is always best to use the two native languages when talking to the kid, so they can learn the difference. Then kids can pick up the English at the nursery and later at school without the foreign accent of the parents.

Spending holidays and socializing in the parents' native environment will help a lot, though.
OP still_wisher 7 | 97  
11 Sep 2009 /  #11
i like that , and thank you all .. it's only that all what i heard that it might cause a long delay and kids might go crazy to catch up with 3 langs around ! i have no experiance so i don't know , though i have seen really smart girl in poland 4 years old and she speaks 3 languages really good ( english-father/ polish- mother/ russian- nany) , i guess she is super nania :)
natasia 3 | 368  
12 Sep 2009 /  #12
really smart girl in poland 4 years old and she speaks 3 languages really good

our daughter is similar (although 2 not 3 langs) - one year and 5 months old and has a v solid and rapidly developing vocabulary in both polish and english. no question at all of any delay - if anything she is quicker than usual (her peers seem to have about 10% of her vocabulary). i have noticed that she just sees the languages around her as one big language, with options. so, there are two ways of saying 'egg' (ie, english or polish), etc.

it is true though that it is VERY important to work at exposing the child 24/7 to both languages. she has a lot of english input from me, plus polish nanny and father and other poles in the house. she has cartoons equally in polish and english. she often has two of us speaking to her in english and polish at the same time - conversations with one person contributing in english and the other in polish. she herself is beginning to differentiate languages according to who she speaks with. eg, this morning she said to me 'ciocia down', which was a reference to the fact that the nanny usually arrives downstairs first thing in the morning. i said 'no, ciocia isn't here yet' and she said 'nie ma' and then quickly added 'gone' - i think for my benefit, because i usually speak english with her.

make sure that whichever language is at a disadvantage (ie, whichever country you aren't in) gets max. input - tv, conversation, books - as much as possible. and don't worry about speed of picking it up - i just think max. immersion is the key, and repetition.
myname - | 3  
15 Sep 2009 /  #13
I think you should think about the spoken language in the neighbourhood i.e. where you live, kids' school, etc. That is the common problem in raising multimothertounge children. However, you can not hope kids will master the whole languages. Usually kids only master one of them, that they mostly use by speaking, writing, listening and also reading.

Language delay may probably happen, though I rarely heard about it.
teddy wilkin - | 9  
16 Sep 2009 /  #14
I am a Brit and I have a Polish wife and 2 daughter 2 and 3. I did A LOT of research into this in the early days and yes, apparently we are supposed to stick to our native languages when speaking to the children. Evan when my first daughter learnt her first words, she did so in 'pairs' one word for english the other for polish. It is an old wives tale that children brought up in this way have a delay in language development, there is no data to support this ANYWHERE - it is just somethin that people say to each other and so it has become an urban myth.

The laguage of the mother is stronger and so the languages are equal in the child's brain if they a brought up in the fathers coutry. Tv is also a huge influence on which language they prefer and so this that of the playground. In any case, the thing to avoid is a single person speaking more than one lnaguage to any child as they will confuse the two. If you stick to each parent speaking a difefrent langauge you can ask questiosn like ' what does mummy call this' and when tghey are about 3 or 4 you should be able to ask them for words in each language and remind them which language to use for each set of grandparents. The worst thing is see is aan international couple in which the parents oinly ever speak to their ther children, as being brought up bilibngual has to be one of the best gifts you can give your kids - and if they only wpeak on the parent's language they will never prperly get to know around half their family! Good luck it s agreat journey
mafketis 37 | 10,853  
16 Sep 2009 /  #15
Tv is also a huge influence on which language they prefer and so this that of the playground.

As far as i can tell the playground trumps all other linguistic concerns for children. I know of a couple of cases of children in Poland whose non-Polish parents didn't speak Polish to them at all (though they could speak it). Within a few months of starting to meet other children the kids become dominant in Polish (tv also helps with this, but it's the peer group that seems to be the single biggest factor).

Some influential language acquisition studies conducted in the suburban US (where kids got more input from the mother than all other people combined) have distorted how language acquisition has normally worked for most of human history. Basically in most cultures at most times children primarily learn to speak from other children (just as a large part of childcare was provided by other children). Input from the parents happens first, but it's not the most influential.
Leopejo 4 | 120  
16 Sep 2009 /  #16
I can't but agree with mafketis. I was brought up in my mother's country, but my father's language was spoken at home. Needless to say, the country's language became my real native language - playground and friend were the one single most important factor.

One day - I might have been 8-9 years old - I was talking to my father and I had to use an expression like "the month after September" as I had forgotten how to say October. If I still remember it it means I was quite embarassed.

At ten years of age we moved to my father's country and I switched "native" language to my father's one sooner than I switched currencies in my head.
nierozumiem 9 | 118  
16 Sep 2009 /  #17
I'm a native speaker of English living in Poland with my Polish wife and our two small children. The kids speak easily in both languages, but I agree with previous postings that children will always prefer to use the local language.

It was important from the beginning for both of us to speak strictly in our native tongues with the children. English television, books, and frequent trips to America are also a big help.

However, we do have many friends in the UK and US in the reverse situation. Some couples are Polish-Polish and some Polish - American/English. In all of these situations the parents have followed similar steps as we have, so the children understand Polish, yet they refuse to speak Polish unless the situation absolutely requires it. (Example: Babcia visits and doesn't understand a word of English). And when they do speak, their vocabulary is limited and grammar as well, with some very interesting accents.

It has struck me as quite odd that 2 Polish parents living in the UK/US speaking strictly Polish at home cannot get their children to speak Polish, while at the same time my children have no issues with using English. I think the answer is that when my older child was young I understood very little Polish and she was forced to talk to me in English. With our friends in UK / US, the kids catch on very quickly that their Polish parents can understand English, so they speak to them in English.

So I think discipline goes a long way, but the best situation is if one of the parents does not understand the other’s native tongue and the child is forced to use both.
16 Sep 2009 /  #18
If anything, growing up bi- resp.,multi-lingual only increases one's chances in the workplace. It's no longer enough, for instance, that Americans grow up only knowing their mother tongue. In this heterogeneous society, the decade-old 'wisdom', "Everyone communicates in English, so why bother learning another language!" simply doesn't apply anymore (......if it ever did LOL).

Why should we necessarily rely on a Pole's, a Swede's etc..knowledge of English to any greater or lesser extent than a Pole, Swede, whatever, should depend on an American's familiarity, even fluency, in theirs? Here's the age-old double standard. Ideally, we'd all know at the minimum something about our neighbors' language, rather than arrogantly insisting on the superiority of our own?-:)

Furthermore, foreigners' English isn't that great on the whole. Sure, to a monolingual Yank or Brit, anything beyond 'Hello!', 'How do you do?' etc.. out the mouth of a Serbo-Croatian, is equal to speaking English, after all, beggars can't be choosers.

Yet, doesn't the card-carrying polyglot simply have more of a choice than remaining an eternal beggar??
aphrodisiac 11 | 2,437  
16 Sep 2009 /  #19
Ideally, we'd all know at the minimum something about our neighbors' language, rather than arrogantly insisting on the superiority of our own?-:)

good point
lisamgreen - | 1  
16 Sep 2009 /  #20
Hi i am new to this forum. I am a nursery nurse and i have a young Polish child who will be attending my setting shortly. I can not speak any Polish and she can not speak English. Is there anyone out there who could please give me Phonetically spelt word to help me. Anything would help, but certainly words such as Hello, Yes, No, Please, Good, Toilet, Drink, Food, Hot, Cold. Many thanks.

pgtx 29 | 3,146  
16 Sep 2009 /  #21
Anything would help, but certainly words such as Hello, Yes, No, Please, Good, Toilet, Drink, Food, Hot, Cold. Many thanks. - this might help - and this
hairball 20 | 313  
16 Sep 2009 /  #22
Hello, Yes, No, Please, Good, Toilet, Drink, Food, Hot, Cold. Many thanks.

I think all the words you quoted can be expressed clearly with actions Miss L. Toilet is the same except it ends in 'A'...the only difficult word you have to express is many. But kids are maybe she/he will understand.
natasia 3 | 368  
6 Oct 2009 /  #23
help. We are in England, but although I speak only English with our daughter, everyone else speaks Polish, including a v dominant ciocia ... so now my 18 month old daughter is producing almost exclusive Polish - eg, round Sainsbury's, shouting out CZESC!! to every passer-by (and they all nodded sympathetically, as if to say 'completely incomprehensible baby language, eh')(mind you, should she do that in Tescos, almost everyone would understand

; ) - because they have a Polish aisle there)

lawks. maybe she will only speak Polish? maybe i have over-egged the Polish pudding with all this immersion??? !
southern 74 | 7,074  
6 Oct 2009 /  #24
my 18 month old daughter is producing almost exclusive Polish - eg, round Sainsbury's, shouting out CZESC!! to every passer-by

That's how polish girls start.
6 Oct 2009 /  #25
maybe she will only speak Polish? maybe i have over-egged the Polish pudding with all this immersion??? !

Unlikely. When she goes to school English will start to dominate.

Teaching me Polish was one of the greatest gifts my parents could possibly have given me, as it has made it easier for me to learn other languages, and enabled me to travel around Europe, and in particular the Slavic world, without using English. And possibly best of all, it has helped me to get with two incredibly gorgeous women - with whom I spent 9.5 and 1.5 years respectively.

Now tell me that Polish is an unimportant, pointless language ;)

That's how polish girls start.

Next it will be "Masz fajnÄ… furÄ™?" haha :D
southern 74 | 7,074  
6 Oct 2009 /  #26
ow tell me that Polish is an unimportant, pointless language ;)


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