Post # 1
My husband and I want to teach our baby both English (our native language) and French (husband knows none; I studied in school and lived in France – I was once fluent but am now very rusty). Is anyone else raising a bilingual baby? Can anyone recommend any good resources?
My plan for now is to try to speak French exclusively to the baby, and also get children’s books in French and take the baby along to a French language meetup that meets weekly in my city. Any other suggestions?
Post # 3
I’m not bilingual, but most of my friends are because their parents only speak English as a second language (if any at all). As far as I can tell, they learned two languages similar to how you are planning to teach your baby. Only the second language (korean, chinese, arabic, etc) was spoken at home and they learned English from outside sources, such as school or play dates.
Even though many of my friends were born in the US, quite a few didn’t learn English until they were sent off to schooL!
Post # 4
Some of my cousins are raising their kids bilingual. For the 3 sets with kids that are being raised bilingual, they both work, so they hired a nanny that speaks the language that they want to be the child’s second language. (2 hired Spanish-speaking nannies and the other hired a french-speaking nanny.) I think this is a great idea, and I hope to do it with any future children I have.
Post # 5
I have a co-worker raising her child much like this. Little kids are sponges for language. From her experience, the only tough thing is that the kid won’t always know which language is which. The word for door is just the word for door, whether i English of French. Takes some patience from the non-speaking parent.
The other issue is that the second language will drop off once he or she goes to school. If you aren’t teaching him or her how to write and don’t send him or her to an immersion school, it could be a long time until reading and writing are established. On the other hand, it is always easier to learn a language you had exposure to as a child.
Post # 6
I have a friend who is doing this. Their plan is for one parent to speak exclusively in one language to the baby and the other parent to speak in exclusively the other language. The mother told me that this helps the baby learn that these are two different languages, rather than getting all the words confused and trying to speak some hybrid language. At first the child learns them as “mommy talk” and “daddy talk”, but later will understand which words are French (or whatever) and which are English without much trouble.
Post # 7
I’ve heard the best way to do it is as greenleafmountain suggested. I don’t have any experience with it myself but I would love to do it when I have kids. If only I spoke better Spanish!
Marie-Eve, who used to be on here quite a bit, might have some good insight.
Post # 8
One of my former lab assistants is of Cuban descent and she is teaching her baby Spanish and English. He is 1 years old now and seems to be learning both languages with ease.
Post # 9
I think that Mr and Mrs Bee are raising their son as a bilingual baby.
Post # 10
I don’t have any suggestions but I just want to say that I was raised like this, and I as I get older, it’s something that I am really grateful for. My father spoke to me in Spanish exclusively for my entire life, and to this day, it’s really weird for me to hear him speaking English. My mom, spoke to me in Greek. I didn’t really speak English until I was school age. My mom of course taught me the English alphabet, and the basics, so I could keep up.
Greenleafmountain pointed out concerns about a hybrid language, and I agree. When I was really young, I remember speaking to some people in my language and realizing they didn’t understand (I was very young and I remember coming to the conclusion that not everyone talks like me), or mixing in a Greek or Spanish word into a a conversation, but I picked up on it quickly and adapted. That’s the great thing about being a kid, they don’t miss a beat!
Good luck with everything!!
Post # 11
We are both monolingual but the schools around us are French bilingual schools (starting at age 3 all the way through high school). I’m hoping our (future, hypothetical) children are able to attend those schools and benefit from them – I think it’s great for children.
DH has distant cousins, he’s English and married a French woman and they live in France. Their two little boys are fluent in both – dad can speak French but has spoken English enough to the boys that they picked it up just fine, although French would be considered their “first” language I guess as it seems to come more naturally. It was just gorgeous sitting at the dinner table with them and everyone spoke English but sometimes the boys would lapse into French – mum or dad would gently remind them “English in front of grandma” and the boys would say “sorry grandma” and continue their story in English. Just mind boggling seeing how it works in practise!
Post # 12
Please just make sure your child knows some English before starting daycare. A girl I work with sent her child to daycare not knowing ANY English. She’s not doing well at all because the teachers can’t tell what the child is saying or tell what she needs.
Post # 13
There’s no chance our child won’t learn English…it’s the only language my husband knows, so obviously he’ll be speaking English to our child all the time.
Post # 14
We don’t have any kids yet, but we are definitely planning on trying to raise our children bi-lingual.
I speak Korean fluently and I would be so sad for my children not to have the same chance of learning our culture the way that my parents were able to preserve for my younger brother and me.
FI is monolingual, proficient in Spanish, but he’s also getting on Rosetta Stone Korean to become more proficient 🙂
Our plan is for me to speak Korean with our children and him to speak English. It will also work out that both our moms will be watching our kids… my mom will speak Korean to them while FMIL will speak English. 🙂
I’ve heard from other 1.5/2 generation couples that it takes a lot of work and dedication for the parents to upkeep the teaching, but if you stick to it, it does work! 🙂
Post # 15
My husbands third language is english so we hope to have a bilingual kid someday.
His parents spoke their native language at home, then moved out of the US and sent him to an english speaking school for when they moved back, but all the kids around him spoke their countrie’s language so he picked that up from friends quicker than english. So for him it was all about heavy immersion.
One of our friends is an Indian couple who’s first languages are different from one another. So they switch back and forth between their first languages sometimes speaking one or the other at home. The kid learns english when they go out but right now he’s just speaking some fusion of the three (he’s not quite two). From people they’ve talked to it seems that kids are a bit more slow to completely making sense when they talk when they learn more than one language at a time, but since they are little sponges they don’t take that much more time.
Post # 16
I have no advice whatsoever, but there is a family at church with 2 very small kids who are bilingual. The 4 year old is in my sunday school class and can speak English & German fluently. I believe they speak German at home, but include enough English so they know that as well. He’s a very bright little boy and doesn’t seem to be confused by switching between languages. I think the key is that they consistently speak both languages.