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Reply with quote  #1 

Although I am a non-native speaker, I have been teaching my almost 3 year-old, son French for about a  year (supplemented by the great Muzzy video program). It has been going great.


We then added German for our son, also using the video program. My husband only knows 'tourist German' and I didn't speak it at all so we are both now actively working on learning it. We are both incredibly motivated for our son to be multilingual.


I'm not overly concerned about my progressing German skills as my son is only learning it himself right now. He seems to understand somehow what this is all about. He consistently asks me what things are twice- first he'll ask in English, then when I've answered he switches to asking in French. (If I haven't noticed the language change he'll keep asking in French insisting that I tell him the French word for something!) I assume that soon he'll be asking in German as long as we encourage this language as well.


Our son seems excited to be learning and speaking both but I need a plan of action for integrating the two. My problem is that my son seems to switch in and out of all three languages (3rd English) all the time, even within the same conversation and I don't know which language to be speaking, especially when he outpaces me in German which is pretty easy right now.


My question is basically one of organization. When do I  speak which language in order to maximize the experience without squelching his enthusiasm. especially with my unequal skills? I will be homeschooling him and already have the materials in both German and French for great continued study so I just want to know what's most important now.

Reply with quote  #2 
Fantastic — good for you!

If you are going to be the point person for both languages I’d probably organize it by time. Example: If you are full time mom you can do four days only French and three days German. This will take some explanation, but at age three he'll understand (and a great way to learn the days of the week!) However, it depends a bit on what language dad speaks to him. Also, do you have any opportunity to join any language groups / playgroups? That is a fantastic supplement for any language!

The trick is to somehow organize yourself to provide a ‘balanced diet’ of the two languages, as far as it is possible — if they are equally important to you, that is. Also, that organization may change over time. Perhaps you want to put greater emphasis on German at the moment, since he already speaks some French? Later, you could well go back to something closer to 50/50. Still, if one person must do 'double duty' on the languages, decide on a time-divided approach that works for all members of the household. Finally, you have to listen to your child. Whatever makes him most enthusiastic and creates the least resistance will in the end be the most successful path.

Best of luck,
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Christina Bosemark
Founder & List Moderator
Multilingual Children’s Association

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