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Reply with quote  #1 

Hi, we are breaking our heads regarding the language selection for our kids and are looking for help.


Our situation is as follows:

We live in Germany

My wife: Ecuadorian, Spanish native, English fluent, German ok

Me: German, German native, English fluent, Spanish not worth mentioning.

Common daily language: English

Two kids, age 5 and 1.

My wife speaks Spanish with the kids all the time.

I talk only German to the kids.


The 5 year old speaks fluent Spanish and German (although both still with some grammar problems). He understands English but does not speak it.


He will start school this year in an international school.

Now we have the following choice :


1. Put him into the Spanish mother tongue section, meaning he will learn German right at first grade as a first foreign language. This way he would start English as a third language at the age of 11-12  (Which I find late.) and he might learn French only the last 3 years in school -if at all.


Since there are few Spanish speakers, the classes are a lot smaller than the German section but it happened before that two grades were sharing the same class.


2. The other option is to take German as the mother tongue language and start with English right in first grade and take French as a third language at the age of 11-12.


Of course my wife would like that the kids speak flawless Spanish like a native, because she is afraid that German (due to living in Germany) is so dominant that she will not be able to talk to the kids at one point and that she will loose the contact to the kids.


My thinking is more like: They will learn Spanish with her anyway (-even if occasionally a word does not come out immediately-), so lets give them the most possible options. If they are going to study, they will likely study in Germany and English is a must today.


The teachers tell us that most of the kids end up fluent in both mother tongue and first foreign language. Looking at myself, however, starting to learn a language (his third)  with 11-12 is too late to really speak free of accent.


Does anyone have a thought on this? Any comments are appreciated.

Thanks, Carsten

Reply with quote  #2 
Its a little confusing but...since you live in German, and they have German language in the home with them, on TV, etc, I recommended letting them take school in the Spanish Mother Tongue section.

Why cant he be schooled in Spanish and English be his first foreign language? The society will provide all the german he will need. Or since you and your wife both speak English fluently, let him take his Education in Spanish, and you guys start speaking English around the house. He's 5 now, he's capable of picking up English at home, using Spanish at school while maintaining German in a German society.

Who cares if he speaks English with an accent, so long as he reads, writes and speaks it on an advanced, near fluent level. Also, dont underestimate a kids abilities. Growing up in a multilingual environment you learn to produce accents as needed. In a few years you guys can take trips to English speaking areas for a few weeks a year, he'll ditch the accent during his stay in this part, even if its only a few weeks a year.

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