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I'm a mom of a Bilingual child with all of the fears, concerns, questions and joy. Yes, joy.
First, I want to tell you why I decided to teach my child 2 languages. I have never thought that I'll leave my country,nor that I'll deal with teaching her 2 languages. However, life brings us surprises. Here I'm trying to deal with mine. I decided to teach my child 2 languages before she was even born. To my surprise, it was a simple decision. I was raised in a Bilingual family myself, so I guess it helped. However, nobody ever taught me another language and I only understand parts and pieces. I think that it was a big reason why I decided to give to my child 2 languages, not just one. Another big reason why two languages not one, was that English is not my first language. I can try very hard and learn as much as I can, BUT it will never be the language of my childhood and my past. I can't give to my child all of the song, jokes, stories because they are not a part of my culture. I was not born with them and they were not a part of my life. Therefore, I can't give to my child 100% of English. Plus, if I don't give her my own culture, I'll steal from my child twice. First, by giving her "unfinished" English and second, by not giving her what I know the best. This is all about my reasons. You find yours. Now about "how." I've never spoken to my daughter English for about first 2-2.5 years of her life. Not even in public when other people could hear me. Why? Because a child understands very quickly that one language is a "main" language and the other is not. Well, if it is not a "main" language and mom and dad don't use it all the time then why should I? Simple, right? I've seen children 2.5-3 years old who don't want to speak any other language, but English because another language was always "suppressed" and used when a parent thought is a good time to do so. Don't be lazy and shy about your native language. It's your life and your child, so don't listen when people are making comments if they do. In 3 years I remember any. Baby does not know what a "native",or "foreign" language is. His brain has nothing to compare with, so whatever you do is "normal" for a baby. Therefore, start talking your language as soon as you can. The best would be even before your child is born. TV. This days it's so easy to get a channel on your own language. Plus, I think that every country has a channel for children. DVDs, Cd's, books they all help. The best if you have a small community of people where you child can practice, but if not, keep it going yourself. My daughter loved Baby Einstein DVDs. You can point at objects while watching them and name them on your own language. Just say it laud and clear. Books and other materials on numbers you can buy at any book store because letters are universal. Blocks are great for learning letters. Also, get a good book on letters and practice them every day. Numbers and colors are the same, so you don't have to buy them on your own language. The same is about picture books. Name objects on your own language. You can even cover English words under them with small pieces of paper. Another great thing that really works is Your Baby Can read DVDs. I think that they great for an older child, after 2. What they do they help you child to get comfortable with English and do what you're not suppose to do teach your child English. Correct your child if he speaks English to you. Every time you let your child to get to one language you lose the other. Therefore, here is what we have: talk to your child on your own language, get a TV channel, buy books, DVDs, Cd's. As a conclusion, what do I have done in 3 years? I have a 3 year old daughter (she just turned 3) who knows 2 alphabets, can count up to 20+ in 2 languages, knows her colors and shapes and we're a few months from reading. She already recognizes letters, but can't put them into words yet. Do I have my moments of doubts and fears that I'm not doing enough, or doing it wrong, but I think that I give my daughter something that will open new doors in her life. I don't know if I do it right, or if we can keep doing it, but I'm doing my best. What is our other language? Russian. It's not the easiest language to learn, but I think that we're doing great. I'll be happy to help anybody who is trying to teach a child another language, Russian, or not. It's imposable to tell everything in just one article. I'll be glad to read and know your stories. It's not a lot of information on raising a Bilingual, so one way to do it is to share what others do. P.S. My special "thank you!" to my husband who keeps learning Russian with my daughter.
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Hi Liliya. thank you so much for all the information. Its so great to hear that it IS possible to teach a child 2 languages. I have a 2 years old (who is not speaking very clear English yet),but he is getting there. My Native language is Tajik (Tajikistan). I am sure you have heard of it. But i speak Russian myself and i would like to teach my Bryce Russian. I know i should teach him Tajik too,but i just dont think he will ever use that language and probably even forget it by just not using it. So therefore i would like him to learn Russian instead. So my question is: Should i simple wait till he starts speaking English first or should i just go ahead and teach him Russian as well. We live in there States ( i think you do too),so you know,everyone around is speaking English. I just dont want to confuse him. So please give me and advice. Thank you! Savri
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How wonderful both of you to be blessed fluent in 2 languages. My parents spoke only 1 language, but my grandfather spoke 5 fluently. When I married a Russian (we live in the US) I made the choice to make the Russian language and culture a big part of our family even though it is not my native language (nor am I very fluent). We have been blogging about it here
http://theeducatorsspinonit.blogspot.com/ and I would LOVE some feedback and support from some parents who know the language and culture better than I! Here is my most recent post http://theeducatorsspinonit.blogspot.com/2011/11/bilingual-babies-christmas-2011.html
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sounds like you guys have it easy with your other half, in terms of how to go about bring up your kids with 2 languages. I however have a different take on things vs my wife and need some advice.
Me: I think it is wise to start off with the trickier language, grammatically, and teach it exclusively especially if you're not living in that country. Ie both my wife & I should only speak Russian at home with our baby girl till she's about 3 or 4. The reason I say this is coz my parents "gently" brought me up with Russian and English simultaneously at home and in the end I was not able to pick up Russian to a "bilingual" standard. I sound English when I speak Russian and the grammar is all over the place. Russian grammar is very tricky, plus with the other alphabet which my daughter isn't going to see much of at school I think she needs to nail it before it becomes tricky to learn later on.
Wife: she doesn't like my Russian and thinks I'll confuse my daughter with dodgy accent & very shaky grammar. She wants me to speak only in English to baby with wife talking exclusively in Russian. That way at least what baby hears is accurate both grammatically & pronunciation wise.
I take on board what she says, all things being equal, but Russian is a difficult language to learn. English is simple (no genders + tricky cases to worry about) and daughter is going to be immersed in it with friends, school, TV etc.. And for that reason I want to ensure that at the very least her Russian is 100% while it's easy to pick up
can anyone help advise on this?
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The most popular method in a case like yours is to use the "OPOL" method. (one parent one language). You would always speak English to your child, and your wife would always speak Russian. Some people throw a third language into it also (for example - you would speak a third language when talking to each other) There is a good record of success with this method. Be patient and consistent!
There are many good websites (like this one) and many others who can provide support for you. It's never too young to start. Children start aquiring language skills from the time they are born. Here is a good article (from a good website) you can read: http://www.multilingualliving.com/2012/06/05/multilingual-children-learn-languages-effortlessly/ and a very good example of one parent who did a similar thing with their child (3 languages): http://www.multilingualliving.com/2012/03/03/still-trilingual-at-ten-livias-multilingual-journey/ Good luck to you Alex!
SARAY COCUK KULUBU
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Teaching Foreign Languages to Turkish Kids in Play Groups Hello, We are Saray Çocuk Kulübü (game group) located in Istanbul, Turkey. (Pendik/Kurtköy) Our aim is to make kids multilingual. In our play groups, we teach them English, Russian, German, French and Spanish. The idea to open such place came to our mind by our kids. I'm Ukranian (I speak fluently Russian, Ukrainian and English), my husband is Turkish (fluently speaks Turkish, English, Spanish and French), kids are talking (Russian, Ukrainian and Turkish as mother tangue). As I speak with my husband mostly in English, kids started very fast to learn English language. As you may see from this, we are very multilingual family We saw how kids can be multilangual if the correct education starts from the very early age of the kids. Now we are teaching other kids foreign languages. Some groups are with parents also and we teach parents what to do or not to do for helping kids till they become multilingual. For more information about us you may visit us... URL: http://www.saraycocukkulubu.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarayCocukKulubu Twitter: https://twitter.com/saraycocukkulup Odnoklassniki: http://www.odnoklassniki.ru/sarayocukk