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Iveticka
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi!

I am expecting a baby at the beginning of the next year and thinking ahead about how to create the most suitable language environment for her. This is our situation:
Father is native bilingual in Italian and German (second languages are English, French and Spanish).
Mother is native monolingual in Czech (second languages are English, French and poor Italian).
We speak English to each other.
We live in French speaking part of Switzerland.

Our plan is to use OPOL, mum speaking only Czech to the baby, dad only Italian and we keep speaking English with each other. That way the baby gets only kind of passive exposure to English. French language exposure we plan to leave on our neighbors, their kids and nursery school.
Do you think this scenario can work for the baby to learn successfully Czech, Italian, French and possibly English? Do you have any suggestions or experience with similar situation?
 
Thanks very much for your suggestions.
 
Iveta

Aleksandra
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi,

we have very similar situation, just different nationalities (husband Hungarian, I'm Polish), English at home and we live in Lausanne:-) With our son we use OPOL.

I started kindergarden with our 2 year old son and it's realy hard... One place didn't work out for us, now we're trying somewhere else. I think French IS a big barrieer for him, even if teachers says- 4th language- no problem... what can they say?

Im thinking to leave stay with him at home one more year, maybe it'll help to clarify the language mixture in his small head. Dont know what to do?

Doeas anybody had similar situation? any advice?

Johanna
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi!

This seems to be a more common "problem"  in Switzerland than I knew. We live in the same kind of situation.

Here is our story.

I am Swedish (also speaking English, french and German), my husband is Swiss with French as mother tongue (also speaking English and German), we speak English together and we live in the Swiss German part of the country! We have a three year old daughter.

I speak Swedish with her, my husband French and since one year ago when we moved from the French speaking part to the German speaking part of the country, she has been introduced to German and Swiss German through friends, outside on the play ground and in the crèche/krippe/daycare, and she also hears my husband and I speak English together.

I am staying home for the moment and our daughter spends her days mostly with me, therefore her Swedish is very good - she understands everything and speaks as any other Swedish three year old. I have many books, Cd's, DVDs, games etc in Swedish that we use during the day.

In French she understands everything and can make herself understood. Since she only spends time with her father a few hours per day and during weekends, we are also making sure that she has books, Cd's, DVDs in french and that we visit my husbands french speaking family as much as possible. We have seen that contact with the cousins is very beneficial.

Regarding German; we put our daughter in daycare a few hours, two times a week, almost right away when we moved to give her exposure to the language. It was very hard on her in the beginning because of course she didn't understand anything. But we decided to continue anyway. The personnel at the daycare were very supportive and gave her the time she needed to adapt to the group. After a few months they told us, and we could also see, that she was understanding more and more German. Now one year later she starting to try and communicate in German. (She loves going to the daycare too!)

My husband and I are continuing to speak in English together. We don't know if and how much she actually understands but we continue, because it is our language. However, we have started to change to talk in french sometimes when we are all three of us together, for example at the dinner table, because she has started to show signs that she doesn't like when we talk in English "over her head" (trying to get our attention by interrupting us and doing things she is not aloud to).

Of course we have wondered many times if we are doing the right thing having so many languages. Sure, she has periods when all the different languages seem to be in a big mixture in her little head and she is frustrated because she can't communicate as well as she seems to want to. But then come the periods when she does huge leaps in all the languages. We try and help her by really being consistent and help her find the right words in the language in use. We don't pressure her and we give her the time she needs to learn each language in her own time.

We are convinced that she will profit from knowing all languages. Though it might be a bit hard for her sometimes we do believe we give her a gift for life. We have learned that introducing languages before the age of three is the best. We are well aware that we have to be committed to give her the tools necessary to keep all the languages alive, and we feel we are. We also feel that as long as we believe in that it is going to work it will!

I hope our story can be helpful for you, Aleksandra and Iveta, to take the decision that is right for you and your families. I would love to hear the experiences and thoughts of other families in a similar situation.

Johanna

Aleksandra
Reply with quote  #4 
Dear Johanna!

Thank you so much, it was great to read about your experience in the similar situation!

As for now our son (25-months-old) speaks very little, just few words, but he understands both mine and Dad's language.
English- before he didnt like when we spoke it at dinner, now he accepted.
And French- I will continue with creche adaptation but it's so hard, he cries all the time, stands at the door, doesn't want to play at all.... It's also separation anxiety- he was only with me at home untill now, no babysitter, no family around...

Sometimes I feel Im so cruel, sending him to creche (just for 2 mornings per week), he already has problems with sleeping, eating, more tantrums...
Did it happen to your daughter as well?

Would love to hear from you,
Aleksandra







Kristi
Reply with quote  #5 
Hello,
Our situation is very similar - I am Estonian, my husband is Italian, we speak English to each other and we live in France. We have two sons - aged 4 and 2. We use OPOL at home.

Our older son, who is 4 started speaking very early and both Estonian and Italian, although he never mixed the languages, he seemed to know very well, which language with who. At the moment he speaks very good Estonian and Italian - when we are in either of these countries no one can guess that he is anyhow different from local children. He started Ecole Maternelle at the age of 2 yrs 10 months (he is born in November). The first year was very hard - although i often left him for only half a day. We were lucky to have very good teachers, so after christmas he was doing quite well already. At the moment he is on his second year and according to the teachers he speaks very good French too, although with me and with my husband he does not want to speak it. I think he understands English quite a bit too, because a couple of times i have said something to my husband in English and my son has replied in Estonian about the subject we spoke about in English. So i guess he is doing pretty well with his four languages

I can see it is not going so smooth with my 2-year old though. He turned two a couple of weeks ago and he has only 4 words that he uses. He seems to understand both Italian and Estonian pretty well, but does not speak almost at all. His older brother is confusing him too - speaks to him Italian or Estonian according to which parent is around and singing him French children's songs. His passive vocabulary is quite good though - when we look at the picture books he knows a lot of words, he just does not speak them. We are going to see a speech therapist next month to see what she is suggesting us to do. At least he was born in the beginning of the year, so he is going to school when he is 3 yrs and 7 months. He will probably start jardin d'enfants next september for two mornings a week, just to make the adaptation to school easier than it was for his brother.



Kristi
Reply with quote  #6 
Hello,
Our situation is very similar - I am Estonian, my husband is Italian, we speak English to each other and we live in France. We have two sons - aged 4 and 2. We use OPOL at home.

Our older son, who is 4 started speaking very early and both Estonian and Italian, although he never mixed the languages, he seemed to know very well, which language with who. At the moment he speaks very good Estonian and Italian - when we are in either of these countries no one can guess that he is anyhow different from local children. He started Ecole Maternelle at the age of 2 yrs 10 months (he is born in November). The first year was very hard - although i often left him for only half a day. We were lucky to have very good teachers, so after christmas he was doing quite well already. At the moment he is on his second year and according to the teachers he speaks very good French too, although with me and with my husband he does not want to speak it. I think he understands English quite a bit too, because a couple of times i have said something to my husband in English and my son has replied in Estonian about the subject we spoke about in English. So i guess he is doing pretty well with his four languages

I can see it is not going so smooth with my 2-year old though. He turned two a couple of weeks ago and he has only 4 words that he uses. He seems to understand both Italian and Estonian pretty well, but does not speak almost at all. His older brother is confusing him too - speaks to him Italian or Estonian according to which parent is around and singing him French children's songs. His passive vocabulary is quite good though - when we look at the picture books he knows a lot of words, he just does not speak them. We are going to see a speech therapist next month to see what she is suggesting us to do. At least he was born in the beginning of the year, so he is going to school when he is 3 yrs and 7 months. He will probably start jardin d'enfants next september for two mornings a week, just to make the adaptation to school easier than it was for his brother.



Lia
Reply with quote  #7 
Hi, nice to read all your story.
We are italian and we live in the UK.
We have a 2yrs old twins, boy and girl and we use ML@H as was the most natural things to do. They go to nursery twice a week since they were 10months old. The nursery is a university nursery, therefore full of bilingual children.
Today, out of the blue, the teacher supervisor of the new class they moved in in september, asked us to start speak english at home as our twins are not understanding anything of what they say and they are loosing out from their peers! We always asked if there was any problem and how the speaking was going as the just say words, nt sentence at all and mainly in italian. I was really upset, u can tell from the time i am writing here,i do not want to speak english at home, it won't be natural and i am scared that they will refuse italian then. I thought that the teacher wasn't supportive at all, acn they do that just to make it easy for them?
Do I have to follow her advice?
Thanks
Kristina
Reply with quote  #8 
Don't listen to 99% of teachers. They have generally no idea about multilingual children at all. Unless of course they are going to stay back a class because they can't cope with the schoolwork. Then get a NATIVE tongue tutor. Your child knows best what she needs. We can nudge them gently in a certain direction but force will only anger them.
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