Teaching baby 2 languages

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fireeves
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Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby fireeves » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:13 am UTC

Do you know how to teach baby 2 languages at the same time? I know it seems like a rush thing, but I just want her to be that smart. :D

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eSOANEM
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby eSOANEM » Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:03 am UTC

I had a couple of bilingual friends both of whom lived in England but had lived in another country for the first couple of years of their lives. They both came here not speaking any English and picked it up very quickly and their parents always spoke to them in their native language (Russian and Danish) whilst pretty much everyone else would speak to them in English.

The other thing I hear about occasionally is where one parent speaks a different language (e.g. a French mother and English father) in which case each parent speaks their native language to the child and they pick one language (usually the one of the country they're living in) to be the language they use when they talk to each other. I hear this also works pretty well.

What I think would not work well would be having a parent speak more than one language to the child.
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Jplus
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby Jplus » Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:28 pm UTC

In linguistics I learned that babies pick up multiple languages easily, whether spoken by a single person or multiple, as long as you don't make it needlessly hard for them (e.g. by intermixing the languages on purpose) and there's a natural reason to expose them to multiple languages. All you need is to expose them to each language on a frequent base until they're about six years old. They might mix up the languages occasionally, but that's nothing to worry about. Just don't try to instruct them, because the effort is wasted. Babies know much better how to study language and they'll simply ignore you. :)

As for your intention: speaking multiple languages doesn't necessarily make your child smarter. Being a caring parent is good, though.

If you're very interested in the way babies learn languages, I recommend Language Development by Erika Hoff (there's also a fourth edition but this link shows a nice cover image).
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PicNick
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby PicNick » Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:24 am UTC

Speaking from first hand experience, it's really not that hard at all. Just speak to your baby in both. If you're a already a natural bilingual then this shouldn't be a problem. I was raised in Canada but my parents spoke to me in both English and their mother tongue, Filipino. Most of my Chinese or Korean friends that live here are in the same situation. Most people around here actually speak multiple languages from birth - English monolinguals are a definite minority :P

Just don't, like others have said, forcibly mix the languages, or try to teach your baby any 'grammar'. We aren't taught English grammar when we are raised, so no reason for babies to be taught grammar either.

Indy
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby Indy » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:08 pm UTC

To the OP, are you bilingual?
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haumovie
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby haumovie » Tue Feb 12, 2013 11:51 am UTC

We are raising our children as bilinguals.
I'm danish (and bilingual (english/danish) myself) and my wife is english and speaks very good danish.

From all the literature that we've read on the subject, the one key thing mentioned everywhere is consistency. Whether you choose to speak each your own language exclusively, both languages alternately or whatever - the most important thing is doing it consistently. We have decided that I always speak danish to the children, my wife english to the children and my wife and I speak english with each other. Only exceptions are goodnight stories and when grandparents on either side are involved as my in-laws don't speak any danish and to accomodate that, I elect to speak english only when they are around.

If you mix and match and even construct mixed language sentences, the child may take longer to learn the syntax of both languages and in some cases inherit some strange habits which can make it difficult for them to be understood in whatever institution they attend on a daily basis.

Apparently, some research suggests that children can handle learning up to 6 languages simultaneously and at least 4 of them natively. One will always be dominant and which language that is, varies throughout life - speaking from experience there seems to be no obvious trigger in changing the dominant language.

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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby Ambermutt » Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:25 am UTC

haumovie seems to have the right idea, each parent speaks one language exclusively, is a good one. I was raised bilingual, speaking only spanish to my mother, and only english to my father. They would not let us mix up the language we spoke to them in, and even now, at 19, my brother and I still speak to them in their designated language, no matter where we're living. (We do sometimes mix up the languages with each other, although we kinda settled on english). At least in our case, it's because each parent much prefers their own native language

As for making the child smarter, I don't think it made me smarter, but I think it did give me a huge advantage. Just in reading comprehension, there are a lot of words that I might not understand in english, but are close enough to a root word in spanish that I can deduce a meaning. Also, I later had to take french in high school, and it was easy to pick up by combining my knowledge from two languages. It especially learning to think in slightly different grammar since I was already used to two different structures to express ideas.

On another kind of related topic, just exposing the child to the language, even if they never really learn it, or seem to lose it from lack of practice, just by being exposed to it young they learn to hear the sounds of that language, and can pick it up extremely quickly at a later age. Being able to identify and separate the different sounds as you hear them helps speak it later, so it doesn't all sound like gibberish.
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Plasmic-Turtle
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby Plasmic-Turtle » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:58 am UTC

This is something I'd like to do too, should I ever procreate. It just seems such a waste to take the time to learn the languages myself and then not to pass the knowledge on, especially when they're young and soaking up language. I was thinking of having separate days or something? And backing up the conversation with bedtime stories in that language, and maybe even language DVDs or something?

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Jplus
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby Jplus » Sat Mar 16, 2013 1:03 pm UTC

Bedtime stories and normal conversation will be your future kid's main source of information. I don't know what you mean by a "language DVD", but I doubt any toddler will be much interested in studying conjugation rules or literature... :|
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Plasmic-Turtle
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby Plasmic-Turtle » Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:26 pm UTC

Jplus wrote:Bedtime stories and normal conversation will be your future kid's main source of information. I don't know what you mean by a "language DVD", but I doubt any toddler will be much interested in studying conjugation rules or literature... :|
Yeh, it being their main source of information is a little scary - it would mean that I'd either have to be super-duper fluent, or perhaps to accept that just incorporating words where I could is better than nothing? And yeh, what I meant by language DVD's (that was a very lazy way to say it) was just cartoons and the like that are in the foreign language. Kids seems to pick up a scary amount from cartoons. If only I could make them like David Attenborough instead of Thomas the Tank Engine...

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Jplus
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby Jplus » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:50 pm UTC

Interesting fact: children are surprisingly good at learning a language that is spoken less-than-fluently by their parents. That's not to say you should train your children in any language you know two words in, but you don't need to worry if you're just a little bit less fluent than a native.

Of course, if you're the only source of information your kids can rely on (until late age) then it might become a source of concern. But in that case I'd say you're probably stretching it a bit anyway; after all, what natural reason is there to speak such a language if it's not what you natively speak?
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Plasmic-Turtle
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby Plasmic-Turtle » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:44 am UTC

I don't see the problem with being the main (even only?) source of information for the child, so long as (a) I were teaching them my native language (english) as well, and (b) I never put the importance of speaking in the second language above the importance of providing thorough and accurate information - e.g. if there's something I unable to explain to them in the second language, I would switch back to English. And obviously there'd be the understanding that kids often don't tend to like things like second languages, musical instruments, and sports being shoved on them in a mandatory sort of manner and that if kid ever says "I don't want to talk in the second language anymore, this shit's dumb" then that should, IMO, be respected.

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Jplus
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Re: Teaching baby 2 languages

Postby Jplus » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:23 pm UTC

Seems sensible!
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