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Miriam
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello everyone, 

I have finally decided to write here. I am spanish and my husband is Brazilian, we live in London where we are raising a 21 month old boy. I always speak to my little one in spanish and my husband always in portuguese. My husband and I speak english at home and he attends to nursery 1 and a half days a week (english).

I am a bit worried his vocabulary is practically non existent. He says mama, dada, baba (for agua-water), si (yes), no, and tchau (bye in portuguese). He does make a lot of different noises and speaks sentences in his own little baby language. He is a social boy that plays with us, interacts with other children and in the nursery havent raised any concerns.

I understand his speech will be delayed in comparison with other kids his age and it might be normal that he is not talking much but I also think he doesnt understand much either. He obviously understand lots of things but not as much as kids his age. Will the fact of being trilingual delay his understanding as well.

As you can tell Im so full of doubts and Im starting to worry now and worrying we are not doing the right thing or if we should seek professional advice.

Many thanks for reading, 

Miriam 
Irene
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Miriam,

Keep in mind that multilingual children seem to develop speech with a bit of delay if you compare them with monolingual children, but a bit of delay is worth if he'll be fluent from birth in 3 languages!
We also live in London, my son is 23 months old and we have 2 languages at home (Catalan and English), we follow the same method as you do (one parent one language) and our boy says a few words, but at this age is mostly "baby talking", he has his own words and sentences [smile]

Now and again I notice he has what I'd describe as "linguistic growth spurts" since he seems to progress really quick in learning new words, but then that's it for a while.

If you are very concerned, I'd suggest you seek professional advice, but don't let anyone tell you that you should give up your language, that'd be a very close minded and old fashion point of view.

I'd recommend you spend time with him sitting in your lap, have a nice cuddle an go through picture books as often as possible, so you can teach him animals or object names, etc... after a while, you'll see you can ask him to point out where an animal is in the picture, and he'll do it!

Best of luck.
Pennie
Reply with quote  #3 
Hello all,

I am in a similar situation.  My daughter is 2 1/2.  My husband speaks German, I speak English.  We live in Belgium (French speaking).  So far she has just been at home, exposed to the two languages, English and German.  Now it is time for her to attend preschool.  We have the choice of putting her into a local French speaking preschool or into a bilingual German/English preschool.  At the moment she only speaks a handful of words.  She has had difficulty hearing, because of fluid not draining from her ears.  This has been corrected, but doesn't change the fact she has a lot of catching up to do.  I too am worried that throwing her into another language could possibly delay her speech even further.

I have a son who is four, he had a strong start with English and German.  He was speech was right on target, therefore we were confident in placing him in a French speaking preschool at age 2 1/2.  So far, so good.  His English and German is great, his passive French too. 

Reading the book, Growing Up with Three Languages, Dr. Xiao-lei Wang was a great resource.  She did want her children to have a very strong roots with their heritage languages (languages spoken at home), before exposing them to the local language. 

I am leaning towards Dr. Wang's method of waiting for my daughter to get a grasp on the two languages, before introducing a third.

Pennie
Bridgette
Reply with quote  #4 
Hello all

My family is a multilingual and multigenerational home.   My daughter is being raised with Farsi, Arabic, English and Bengali.  She has not seemed to have any difficulties with all four languages but I use picture communication in the home for all four languages to help her recognize that different words can be used by for the same thing (ie. water, maya, ob, pani).  In fact we also use picture between adults as not all of us speak the same language.  (My mother in law speaks farsi and I do not.)

She is now 2 and speaks quite fluently. Perhaps this might be helpful to others.  I am happy to share my resources. 

Also wanted to say to the mother who had concerns.  Trust your gut.  A mother always knows their child best.  If you are worried about language acquisition it never hurts to check things out.  Most times you will put your fears to rest and if there is something that can help better sooner than later.

Bridgette
Maria
Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridgette
Hello all

My family is a multilingual and multigenerational home.   My daughter is being raised with Farsi, Arabic, English and Bengali.  She has not seemed to have any difficulties with all four languages but I use picture communication in the home for all four languages to help her recognize that different words can be used by for the same thing (ie. water, maya, ob, pani).  In fact we also use picture between adults as not all of us speak the same language.  (My mother in law speaks farsi and I do not.)

She is now 2 and speaks quite fluently. Perhaps this might be helpful to others.  I am happy to share my resources. 

Also wanted to say to the mother who had concerns.  Trust your gut.  A mother always knows their child best.  If you are worried about language acquisition it never hurts to check things out.  Most times you will put your fears to rest and if there is something that can help better sooner than later.

Bridgette


Hi Bridgette, I am curious about your picture communication.  Are they flash cards? Pictures you printed? Do you keep them in a binder or box? This is something I could definitely use at my home and would appreciate the information. 

Also any more responses from trilingual/multilingual families would be greatly appreciated.  We have a 5 month old.  I speak mostly Spanish to her (about 80%), my husband speaks mandarin (80%), her grandparents (who take care of her) mandarin all the time, and then English between my husband and I, and to her when we forget to speak our native tongue.  I am not sure how this will workout.  But it is good to know that delayed speech is normal for this type of situation.
Guillermo
Reply with quote  #6 
Hola Miriam,
I just found this thread, one year old now, and was wondering what was the progress of your toddler.
We face a very similar situation to yours (our son is 26 months old is exposed to Spanish-French-English and speaks very little). We follows the one-parent one-language method. His earing has been checked and it is good.

We were wondering if you can share your views base on your case.

Un saludo
DRJ
Reply with quote  #7 
Hello, All!
It's just great to finally see people with the shared concerns.
Our family also have 3 languages; Korean, French and English as common language between the couple. And our biggest big just became 3 years old and have certain delays in terms of talking. It's not like he doesn't understand or anything as he follows the instruction we give perfectly but his vocab are quite poor. So we're really concerned that he's not able to speak as the others do and things are even more obvious as he went to school last month. The difference these days though, that he's taking our hands and putting them on the object and asking to us both like he understands there are differences between the language mum and dad speaks. But then, that's it. He is carefully listening and digesting but doesn't want to speak while he's speaking
Amapola
Reply with quote  #8 
Hi everyone,
We speak English, German and Spanish using OPOL which works for us.
Our boys (6 and 7) seem fine with it and it is possible to strenghthen one or another with trips, nannies, films etc.
However I do struggle with the lack of training and understanding on the school and teachers side.
Every family situation is different. If the parent who spends more time with the children does not speak the majority language (the one spoken at school), the child will most likely be delayed in the beginning with reading, writing and even focusing.
The whole maturation process may take a bit longer.
As someone has already said, you must trust your instinct and your child's ability!
The problem when you seek professional help is that you will rarely find someone who knows about bilingualism, let alone multilingualism...
Sara
Reply with quote  #9 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridgette
Hello all

My family is a multilingual and multigenerational home.   My daughter is being raised with Farsi, Arabic, English and Bengali.  She has not seemed to have any difficulties with all four languages but I use picture communication in the home for all four languages to help her recognize that different words can be used by for the same thing (ie. water, maya, ob, pani).  In fact we also use picture between adults as not all of us speak the same language.  (My mother in law speaks farsi and I do not.)

She is now 2 and speaks quite fluently. Perhaps this might be helpful to others.  I am happy to share my resources. 

Also wanted to say to the mother who had concerns.  Trust your gut.  A mother always knows their child best.  If you are worried about language acquisition it never hurts to check things out.  Most times you will put your fears to rest and if there is something that can help better sooner than later.

Bridgette

 

Hi there Bridget, and other mums in trilingual families,


I am pregnant with my first child and we too have decided to raise our baby with three languages.

I will speak English to our child (I speak it better now than my native Dutch, and my closest friends are English), my Italian fiancé will speak his native language (which is also good so our child can communicate with his italian family and friends), and the two of us would continue to speak French to one another, as we live in France.


So that's the plan I guess. We are totally prepared for the fact our kid might speak much later than others, or that he might be passive in one of the languages at first. Things don't always go according to plan.

But I love your picture communication idea Bridgette. Can you tell me more? Do any other mums have little things like that that helped in their case? Advise? Both of us actually speak the three languages fluently, but in your opinion, should we stick to our individual "decided language" any time we address our child?


Thanks a lot

Sibylle
Reply with quote  #10 
Dear Sara,
Do not worry too much! Things will work out quiet fine! Even for Monolinguals there is a huge variance in normal language aquisition: The first 5 words are anytime between 10 month and 2 years. And words is any sound that is consistently used for an object or person (bu for book etc).

It may be that your baby will be slowed down by the extra languages or not. In our case we are on the lucky side with our little 19 month old girl. She is already in the language explosion phase for both English and German (several words a day, 2 word sentences and first longer ones). Spanish is on the backburner and is the language with the lowest exposure.

German used to be the dominant language for her (both my husband and I speak it to her), now English soon will be more prominent. She graduated in her full time day care into the toddler group. This means the other kids speak now, and they speak English.
Another mom
Reply with quote  #11 
We also have two trilingual children (English, Russian, German) and we were worried about both. Both of them spoke later ( they also had problems with the water in the ears). Now our older daughter is 9 and she speaks at least two languages (German at school and English as a family language) on a very good level. She has an accent, grammar mistakes and a quite poor vocabulary in Russian but she understands and speaks it which is the main thing. Her younger brother is 5 now and still makes grammar mistakes in all 3 languages. I can remember my daughter's grammar became better when she was 6. I hope the same for our son.
I would always recommend to check the hearing, stick to the rule "one language-one parent" and try to communicate with words as much as possible (f.e. describing everything what happens with words)
sophie
Reply with quote  #12 
Hi! 
Very interesting forum to find some support and see other parents who are worried. IN our case our son is 3.5. and raise with three languages since he was born. I speak to him in French, my husband in Greek and he is going to English nursery full time since he was 18months because we are living in UK. We speak Greek at home with my husband. 
At the moment we can say that our son understand very well the three languages and knows to who he has to speak each language. He is not mixing them. 
Our concern is about his speech capacity for his age. He is starting now to do very small and simple sentences in French which i think it is his dominant language. In English and Greek he is still putting words together but not really connecting them to make full sentences. 

Do you think we should start to be worried at this age or our son just need more time  to develop his speech capacity? Which age your child started talking? 

Thank you very much 
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