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Spin off - teaching a second language to your children
When it's not your native language


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#1 seaside_feral

Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:35 AM

Spin off from the "becoming bilingual" thread....

I am wondering if there are another EBers out there who have passed on their second language skills to their kids, and how you went about it.

DH and I are both native English speakers.  I learnt French at school and German at uni. As I did a uni exchange to Germany my German is essentially fluent, although a bit rusty at the moment! My French is not fluent but sufficient for travel purposes.  

I love languages and would really like to teach our little one (due in 11 weeks!) some German.
People have suggested to me that I should speak German to our baby all the time, and while I agree this would achieve my aim most ideally, I don't think it will feel very natural, as German is not my mother tongue.

Have you successfully passed on - or at least introduced - a second language where it's not your mother tongue? I am thinking things like getting some kids' books in German, CDs of German children's music, teaching words simultaneously etc.... But would love any other ideas you might have.

Thanks in advance.

#2 MarigoldMadge

Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:43 AM

My DH speaks French as a second language, and he is keen to pass that on to DD.

So, we have lot's of Maisy/Angelina etc dvds and we've always played the French language version instead of English. She seems to get it! I also have some French game apps on my phone which she plays a lot.

DH has always spoken in French to her - not exclusively, but a little bit, and always drops a French word in an English sentence etc and will often use a French word instead of an english word for destinations, like patisserie instead of bakery.

She also attends a French art class, and has done from 2.5 - basically it's just an 90 minute art and craft session with French teachers who just speak French exclusively.

She can say words, count to 20, sings French songs, etc but I think it's always going to be a work in progress. There is a French immersion primary school near us, so that may be the next stage.

Edited by haras1972, 14 January 2013 - 08:44 AM.


#3 seepi

Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:43 AM

One idea I had was to play them dvds of kids shows in that language only - eg - only watch Calliou and maisy in french.

I haven't managed to do it though - you need to pick a couple of series and start off in french only - once they ahve watched a show in english they will only want to watch in english.

there are fisher price toys that speak in french (and spanish), but they aren't all that clear unless you already know the words they are saying (numbers etc) and are expensive.

There are also language based playgroups - I think this would be fabulous.

and a game link for a great game in a few languages
http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/lingo-show/g...how-bigbugshow/

#4 MrsLexiK

Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:47 AM

QUOTE (seaside_shells @ 14/01/2013, 09:35 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Spin off from the "becoming bilingual" thread....

I am wondering if there are another EBers out there who have passed on their second language skills to their kids, and how you went about it.

DH and I are both native English speakers. I learnt French at school and German at uni. As I did a uni exchange to Germany my German is essentially fluent, although a bit rusty at the moment! My French is not fluent but sufficient for travel purposes.

I love languages and would really like to teach our little one (due in 11 weeks!) some German.
People have suggested to me that I should speak German to our baby all the time, and while I agree this would achieve my aim most ideally, I don't think it will feel very natural, as German is not my mother tongue.

Have you successfully passed on - or at least introduced - a second language where it's not your mother tongue? I am thinking things like getting some kids' books in German, CDs of German children's music, teaching words simultaneously etc.... But would love any other ideas you might have.

Thanks in advance.

I plan on teaching our little one German as well.  The difference for me is that I was taught German as a baby, however basically unless I am in Germany I do not speak it so I would need a lot of practising! My Opa only spoke German to me - no English - so I totally understood it and spoke it with him, however he did this to me from day 1 and my mum said that I was a little confused and slower to talk then my sister (who did not have the heavy German influence) or to any other cousin or young child that she knew.  She knew one other child that this happened to and this child was being spoken to in both English and another lanuage.  Purely ancedotal but something to bear in mind if your little one is not hitting the milestones in lanuage as per the guidelines.  original.gif

I would start with books, and CD's and DVD's etc. There are also some fun apple apps available for teaching lanuage which are aimed at kids and look on the surface to not be too bad.

Personally whilst I plan on playing the kids music cd's and having the books alongside the english ones I may hold off teaching the words as such until my little one has mastered the word in English.  But this is jsut going from my experience and I know that they will hear the lanuage spoken at family events every now and again.

#5 dirtgirl

Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:56 AM

This is an interesting topic. I grew up bilingual with both my parents speaking French exclusively at home. This meant that I had to learn French if I was to communicate with them.  My husband is a native Spanish speaker having been born in South America, and moving to Australia when he was seven.  Unfortunately, though, neither of our kids have picked up  French or Spanish.  They know a few words here and there, but because DH and I communicate in English, English is pretty much all we speak at home.

It is possible to pass on a second language to a child even if both parents don't speak it, but it is a big commitment. I admire your goal, and I wish you the very best in achieving it...you're definitely more dedicated than I!!

#6 Jeyamoo

Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:57 AM

My husband speaks Mandarin and we are teaching DD Mandarin however due to his long hours at work it is mainly me teaching her and I am only a beginner! Even so she knows how to count, her colours, body parts and a few simple words and phrases. We mostly use DVDs and iPad apps. We are going to send her to Chinese school on Saturdays when she turns 4, and will probably move overseas for a least part of her schooling.

#7 DamiansMama

Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:10 AM

I am first generation Australian and my xDH is second generation Australian but we made a pact not to speak English to our DS until he was about 3ish (xDH still speaks to him in the second language).

He picked up English at childcare within 6 months (started at about 3 1/2) but has continued to speak and understand the second language fluently. He is now 6yo and received the Academic Award for Kindergarten (mainly for literacy in which he finished at a year 2 level).

What I am trying to say is that in our case, the second language has not made a difference in the learning capabilities with English.

#8 Zephie Chugger

Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:29 AM

DS2 has Chinese heritage so we all are learning Mandarin,Im not doing very well but the boys have taken off.Both have been in classes from age 2years weekly plus  DVDs and iPad apps etc we have asked other Mandarin speaking people to help them practices.

Its priceless watching faces change when D1 (he has no Chinese heritage) order or ask questions in Mandarin when we visit China Town original.gif

#9 Contrebasse

Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:34 AM

I am in a similar situation to you - would love to pass on my knowledge of French but it feels unnatural to speak it all the time. We have so far been speaking a few sentences here and there, but I think for DD to really get something out of it she will need some contact with a native speaker - e.g. via a playgroup, language class or possibly a nanny/babysitter.

I did hear some research that said the best way to acquire language skills was to hear those sounds 'live' from a native speaker before the age of 1 - DVDs were not effective. DD is already 8 months and we haven't organised anything yet though!

If you are in Melbourne, I think there is a German school near Fitzroy - they probably have playgroups for younger kids as well.

#10 SUSIE25

Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:15 AM

DH and I are both Hungarian. I have only introduced the very basics to the kids. I think they were around 2 when i started. Bathtime was a good spot cos I had their attention. Colours , English then the Hungarian equivalent) then so on with numbers, basic descriptions. Made it into a game. they seem to recognise its another language other than English. They can both count to 10.
They have also picked up other words from Dora,lol.
Hungarian was what we were taught first from our parents and English was learnt from school and tv. Our parents learnt more english from us.

#11 noi'mnot

Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:26 AM

English is my partner's third language. He speaks exclusively to our 2 year old in his first language, I speak exclusively to her in English. Her English is excellent (well above where she should be developmentally), the other language is on par with where she should be (3-5 word sentences, can count to 10, knows colours and shapes, etc). She is read to every night in the other language, and listens to a lot of music in it too.

My partner and I speak to each other in English. Sometimes, I'll ask him what the name of something is in his language, just to get more words into her vocabulary. We haven't had any issues with the second language at all, it has been quite easy for us - maybe because she's such a verbal kid, though, so she really enjoys two languages.

#12 babyinabackpack

Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:29 AM

Hey Seaside!
I am in the same boat!
I spent 13 years in Japan (16-29) and consider myself more fluent in Japanese than I do in English.
We have decided that I will speak to bubble only in Japanese, and Mr Man will speak in English. Together we will speak in English. And whilst we are still here in Taiwan, we will talk to in in Mandarin when out with Mandarin speaking friends.
My hopes are that even if bubble doesn't become fluent from my teaching, that hopefully it will stimulate it's brain to be more susceptible to learning new languages in the future.

Best of luck!

#13 Lokum

Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:43 AM

QUOTE (MrsLexiK @ 14/01/2013, 09:47 AM)
15235784[/url]']
My mum said that I was a little confused and slower to talk then my sister (who did not have the heavy German influence) or to any other cousin or young child that she knew.  She knew one other child that this happened to and this child was being spoken to in both English and another lanuage.  Purely ancedotal but something to bear in mind if your little one is not hitting the milestones in lanuage as per the guidelines.  original.gif
...

Personally whilst I plan on playing the kids music cd's and having the books alongside the english ones I may hold off teaching the words as such until my little one has mastered the word in English.


There's pretty robust research to show that bilingual children dont acquire language skills slower that monolingual, especially if you count their total words and abilities across both languages, they often exceed their monolingual peers.
The risk of them learning English first, then the other word, is that they won't be motivated in the 2nd. Kids are hihgly motivated to start to learn to talk because they are social and have needs, and want to know what's going on. So they learn to tal Ad undertsand. Once they know how to get their needs met and communicae their thoughts, they aren't so powerfully motivated to Acquire the second language. It's thought to be more effective to learn them both at the same time to be truly bilingual (rather than monolingual with fluency in a 2nd language.)

QUOTE (babyinabackpack @ 14/01/2013, 11:29 AM)
15236050[/url]']
Hey Seaside!
I am in the same boat!
I spent 13 years in Japan (16-29) and consider myself more fluent in Japanese than I do in English.
We have decided that I will speak to bubble only in Japanese, and Mr Man will speak in English. Together we will speak in English. And whilst we are still here in Taiwan, we will talk to in in Mandarin when out with Mandarin speaking friends.
My hopes are that even if bubble doesn't become fluent from my teaching, that hopefully it will stimulate it's brain to be more susceptible to learning new languages in the future.

Best of luck!


Our bilingual goals go in fits and starts, as they rely on DH to speak his language all the time, and he finds that difficult while in Australia. When we're in Turkey, DS1's language skills move faster than we can keep up. We did find a non-english speaking nanny helpful to increase the turkish 'inputs' he was receiving, and since she couldnt understand his english, he HAD to speak turkish back to her.
Even if he's not totally bilingual, we too are encouraged than any amount of 2nd or 3rd language exposure is beneficial.



#14 seaside_feral

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:01 PM

Thanks everyone for your replies!! I think we will take the approach of books, DVDs etc & teaching our little one bits & pieces of German because I don't think I could manage speaking it all the time. Hopefully we might have a chance to live & work in Europe & expose them to other languages this way too.

QUOTE (Contrebasse @ 14/01/2013, 10:34 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If you are in Melbourne, I think there is a German school near Fitzroy - they probably have playgroups for younger kids as well.


We are in regional Vic but I will look into this - thank you!!





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