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I am sooo happy and thought I'll share our story with you, it might help some of you stop worrying and start enjoying growing up bi-trilingual children.
We are raising two little girls trilingual, one is still a baby the other is 2 years old. We live in Greece, our family language is English (bilingual daddy's, English-Greek) and my language is Hungarian. Our two year old daughter started to speak a little late - or so I thought - only when she was round about 22 month old. Since then there is no stopping, she not only she uses words, but started out with using short sentences like: 'daddy's gone', 'too cold', 'sit down doll' etc. The most amazing thing of all is that she seems to know perfectly which language to use when. We don't really keep ourselves to the rules, our system is a following: we speak English all of us, when daddy is around, when the kids are with me we speak my native Hungarian, and we speak Greek when Greek speaking people are around. Still my little one knows perfectly what vocabulary to use and since she is not familiar with all the words in all three languages, what she does is that if she doesn't know the word let's say in English for 'red', she whispers it in Hungarian for me, and when I tell her the word in English 'red' she proudly announces it in English. Other times she simply does not say anything although I know that she is familiar with the word in other languages, and I can almost hear her little brain clacking by searching for the proper word I do not know how it works, I expected her to mix languages first, but she doesn't mix most of the times. She seems to be mixing only when not talking to someone but when she plays and talks to herself and dolls. If you have children the similar age I would be grateful if you'd share your story here!
Reply with quote #2
I hope after a couple of months I can also write a similar story of success. My husband is Italian, I am Hungarian.At home we talk a mixed language (Italian-English)...and we live in Spain. We have a 16 months old boy. Now I am curious...
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I am also very curious - our daughter is now 18 months old and we (dad-Russian, mum-Dutch) live in London. We try to be as consistent as possible in speaking our native languages to her, and when we're all together we speak mostly Russian at home. Outside, with friends or in nursery she is 'immersed' in English, and I guess it's not surprising her first words after mama and daada were bye bye. She does not speak a lot, but she clearly understands all three languages. We're hoping she can go to a Dutch Saturday-class when she a little older, as she only hears Dutch from me. It is not yet an issue but I am a little worried about reading and writing - the advice I've been given is to start teaching her the 'school' language and leave this for the other languages until she's able to do this well in one language. Am happy to receive any advice about this!
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I was so glad to read your post. We also live in Greece, my son is now 15 months and we are trying to make him trilingual. I am English-Mexican and I speak to him in Spanish, and his Dad is Greek. We speak English when we are all around, but still speak individually to him in Spanish and Greek. I know he understands Spanish and Greek perfectly, but English not so much, and I was wondering if you had any tips to help him understand more. When you are all together, do you speak to your daughter in English? or just between you and your husband? Do you read in English? etc? Id really appreciate your advice!
Reply with quote #5
I can only tell you how we do it, I don't say this is the only good way to get him to understand more English. In the evenings after dad comes home I speak to the girls in English, so the whole getting into bed ceremony is in English. That includes dinner, clearing up the toys, bathing, bedtime story. This means for approximately 2 hours I speak exclusively English to them, and of course dad speaks to them English too, since he is bilingual. Besides we have lots of English and English speaking friends on the island that we meet regularly. We also watch cartoons and listen to kids songs and nursery rhymes. At those times if there is just me and the girls at home I speak to them my language but we sing along in English. This system might seem chaotic but it works for us, and my elder daughter seems to understand the general rule, that is family language English, mum's language is only spoken by mum if we are without daddy and outside the house people speak Greek so we speak Greek too. Hope this helps! Where do you live? We are in Paros, Cyclades.
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i am prisca and i am from gabon (africa ) i am french national also and i am a native french speaker ,my husband is polish ,we live in london britain and we have a 4 year old son julian (expecting another one in august)... we have always spoken our mother tongue to him from birth ...he has never mixed up languages either ,until now ,he is going to the english nursery part time since the age of 1 and the rest of the time will be or with dad or with myself ...he will be starting fulltime school in september,and is going 2 hours everyday to primary school since last september... he now mix all the languages together as his vocabulary in each language doesn't allow him to make full sentences .his dad and myself speak english together at home as it is the only langage we have in common ...julian does still try to speak to us in our native language but now also know that we are able to speak english so does not hesitate to tell us the english words when he is stuck ...his speech is not brilliant either in polish or in french ,and his pronnounciation is far from perfect in these 2 languages but in english which is very clear and well pronnounced however we persist just like usual .i will say that his english come first ,second is polish and third french ...i plan from age 5 to homeschool him in french and his dad will apply for him to attend the saturday polish school which is 3 hours a week every saturday from 5 ... we hope he will pick up and it is going to work as it is somehow vital he is not british but hold our passeports ...this is my story