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Old 10-13-2006, 07:59 AM   #1
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bi lingual babies?

can anyone offer some advise?

I am bilingual myself. I spoke Spanish before English and still use it to communicate with my grandmother. My husband is only an english speaker, though he did take 6 years of French. He is, however, very eager to learn Spanish and is making great progress.

Here is my question. How easy is it to introduce another language to children? I want my girls to grow up with both, but at this point we only do English with a few words in Spanish every once in a while. I have begun talking to my youngest in Spanish, and she looks at me like I have three heads and giggles. My oldest is 7 and she understands some, she spent more alone time with grandma.

What/how do I do this? AM I going to confuse the poor kids?
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Old 10-13-2006, 08:06 AM   #2
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Re: bi lingual babies?

The younger the kid the easier they'll pick it up but the older ones will too. my bil is chinese and they're raising thier kids bilingual, at the least he actually speaks english, french, cantonese and mandarin. i think he speaks cantonese to the boys, not that I could tell the difference. My sisters knows a small amount of cantonese or mandarin. Tony speaks to them in the chinese language and they pick it up. Liam will be 3 in Jan and he says more English but does speak chinese though to most people it sounds like he just isn't saying English correct. He understands more chinese. he calls Tony by the chinese word for Dad and did call my sister Ma-moo for a long time but now it's just mom. The more Tony speaks to him in chinese the more the boys pick up.
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Old 10-13-2006, 08:23 AM   #3
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Re: bi lingual babies?

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Originally Posted by sesa70 View Post
can anyone offer some advise?

I am bilingual myself. I spoke Spanish before English and still use it to communicate with my grandmother. My husband is only an english speaker, though he did take 6 years of French. He is, however, very eager to learn Spanish and is making great progress.

Here is my question. How easy is it to introduce another language to children? I want my girls to grow up with both, but at this point we only do English with a few words in Spanish every once in a while. I have begun talking to my youngest in Spanish, and she looks at me like I have three heads and giggles. My oldest is 7 and she understands some, she spent more alone time with grandma.

What/how do I do this? AM I going to confuse the poor kids?
We are a bilingual household but have done it from birth of our son. From what I have heard, it is best if you (each parent) speaks their native language consistently withyour little ones. So if that's you with Spanish, you would always speak Spanish to the kids. THey might look at you funny for a while, but they'll get over it and will start to understand and absorb. They may not speak it, being in an English-speaking country mainly (although that depends on the region nowadays) but they will be capable of speaking it (allthose little pathways in their brains will be developed) and understand it well. We have been told by our doc and others that teaching your kids more than one language makes them better problem solvers in life.
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Old 10-13-2006, 08:57 AM   #4
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Re: bi lingual babies?

we have some friends/neighbors who're doing english & spanish. from what i've observed, mom (who's the native spanish speaker) speaks almost exclusively spanish to the kids, but not 100% of the time. they have two older girls (10 & 7) and a 1 yo. dad does mostly english with a smattering of spanish. the older kids seem to understand spanish, but i don't really hear them actively conversing with their mother in spanish. the little boy isn't talking yet.

about the only other thing i've read about raising kids bilingually is that sometimes young children who grow up with two languages will talk a little later than those raised in a monolingual house.
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:24 AM   #5
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Re: bi lingual babies?

it's easy, just speak it 100% of the time if you can. after all, they will get english in school. i sooo wish my parents had done that with me, but i grew up in the generation that thought it would interfere with integration or delay language development or something like that. children are so much more flexible when it comes to learning language. it might delay initial development of language by a little bit, but what is a matter of a few months compared with a lifetime of having the ear for the language and being fluent?

my sil is japanese and has been speaking japanese 100% of the time to my nephew. to her chagrin, his first 50 words or so were english anyway. (i think it's just because english words are monosyllabic and thus easier to say!) but by the time he was 2, his vocabulary was 50/50 japanese / english.

i'd like to learn more spanish just to be able to expose my kid to it. i've even entertained the thought of hiring a spanish nanny just so he gets exposed to it!
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:27 AM   #6
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Re: bi lingual babies?

My Dad has 3 other boys with his present wife and they are all bi-lingual (Spanish speaking) it's funny because the Mom (who is from Mexico originally) talks to them in Spanish ALWAYS and they ALWAYS talk back to her in English.

They call their Mom "mi amor" - so sweet! We went to visit them last month and I came back calling my DH "mi amor" and it's just stuck. I'm not even sure my DH knows what it means but he likes it because it sounds "hot" when I say it. Men! LOL

I'd love to speak more Spanish in my home (I am 1/2 Mexican) but I'm not totally fluent.
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:42 AM   #7
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Re: bi lingual babies?

i speak to my 16 month old DD exclusively in Marathi ( indian Language ) she completely understands it i figure she will learn english in school.
I grew up Trilingual so its no big deal to me.
She does say some english words like Book ball etc that are easy.


Good luck
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:45 AM   #8
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Re: bi lingual babies?

As a pp said, the younger the better. My nephew has a half brother that is 10 and can speak french english and spanish fluently. My SIL's DH is french and they speak to dd mostly in french, she seems to think it is funny and laughs at them. Personally, I can understand a little spanish but cannot speak it at all. I had a spanish nanny for a long time and I guess some of it stuck.
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:44 AM   #9
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Re: bi lingual babies?

Yes, yes, yes!! My cousins grew up bi-lingual, living in Mexico. Their parents spoke English in the home. Sadly now that they live in the States, the younger two don't remember Spanish. Their father is Mexican and they still have family there.

We moved overseas when I was 5, my sister 2, & my brother 1. We learned the language very easily.

Our school here in Florida starts teaching another language in kindergarten!!
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Old 10-13-2006, 02:51 PM   #10
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Re: bi lingual babies?

It is the same here in my house my husband speaks spanish and i speak english.My girls only speak english ages 11 and 9.My youngest is now 10 weeks and from what here ped says is that my husband should speak to her only in spanish and she can learn english later on.He says the older they are the harder it gets for them to learn it and speak it fluently.
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