Friday, October 15, 2010

My Trilingual Child

Have I told you lately that Emma is trilingual?

With this world becoming so globalized, soon enough there will be more multilingual children than not, its useful to talk about. 

Emma is 2.5 years old and speaks three languages, doesn't mix them and translates to people who don't understand.

My husband and I speak English to each other, he speaks Greek and I speak Serbian.  There was never any thought about which languages Emma would learn, it was automatic in our minds that she will know all.

When Emma was born we continued the exact same pattern. I spoke to her only in Serbian and hubby only in Greek, no matter where we were and who was around. English she heard when we spoke between us and she goes to an English speaking kindergarten.

Today, at 2.5 years old Emma speaks all three languages. She knows exactly which language to use with which adult, not just parents but also grandparents, friends, teachers. If she talks with Daddy she turns around to translate to Mommy (although I know Greek myself).  With her Greek speaking grandparents she speaks in Greek and translates to them if they don't understand.

Emma very rarely mixes the languages and I think this is due to the fact that we are very consistent with who speaks which language.  She only does so if she doesn't know a word in one language or another.  In which case, we'd say "I don't understand, how does Mommy/Daddy say it?" and either she'd say it in the language we ask for or we'd tell her how it's said and next time she'd do the same.

So what advice I can give to new parents planning to raise multilingual children?  
  • Be consistent
  • Do not mix languages
  • Stick to one language per parent
  • Pretend you don't understand the other language thus forcing your child to think of other ways (languages) of saying the same word. 
  • Do not feel bad that other people around you don't understand what you're saying.  Tell your child in the language you want and then translate for your friend. 
  • Don't worry about old wives tales, your child will not stutter or be confused, or start speaking at 3. Being bilingual does however make the brain more flexible.
So if you have another language in your household, start using it with your child, it is really the most rewarding thing...  

Check out also this site about raising bilingual children.
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  1. WOW!!! that's amazing .. my boys are bilingual (English and Indonesian) ... I wish I speak more language ... BRAVO EMMA!!!

  2. Isn't the brain an amazing thing? I think the brains of children are even more amazing. Untainted, little sponges. Sounds like you are really great parents with a lot of wisdom, thank you for sharing this and keep up the good work.

    My daughter barely spoke at 2.5!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Oops, I don't know how I managed to delete my message! :/

    You are doing a fantastic job! Getting her to know all three languages is an invaluable gift to Emma. Well done! And well done Emma! :)

  5. thats amazing! We taught my daughter sign language when she was a baby and it was wonderful.
    Thank you for stopping by page. I am your newest follower - your lunches look great. I will have to make some for my kids!
    Have a great weekend

  6. What a little sweetie and smart too :)

    Thanks for finding me, dropped by to say hello and to follow you!

  7. Our neighbors are bi-lingual but chose to only speak English to their they regret it and so do their kids...I think you are very wise!

    Happy weekend!
    Becky Jane

  8. I think that is fabulous and amazing!!!

    Following you back...


  9. That's amazing - you are a great mama arming her with all that knowledge!! I have an Emma too.

    Thanks for following me - following you now too.

  10. Thanks for commenting on my blog!!! I am your newest follower and enjoyed reading your post!

  11. Excellent points on language learning and how fortunate to speak so many. Children are the best for leraning languages.
    Thnaks for stopping by my blog. I am following you back

  12. You are doing very good!
    Following you back!

  13. That is amazing. Keep up the good work!

    I am now following your blog as well.


  14. divno d tako mala zna vec 3 jezika da prica...djeca su inace jako talentovana od svog rodenja,moji su sada veliki i nikada ih nisam tjerala da moraju znati moj/muzevljev jezik,to su naucili slusajuci nas kako pricamo,a je nauceno kroz skolu i situaciju u kojoj smo se nasli !!
    Divnu djevojcicu imate ,pazite je jako ce brzo da poraste !!!:))

  15. I agree with you wholeheartedly.... My gremlins are also trilingual.. and 2.. lol.. we started with signing at 6 months, my husband speaks English, but his mother speaks to them in Tagalog... MY family and I speak to them in Spanish.. and you are right, they don't confuse it, etc.. and KNOW which grand ma speaks WHICH language.. it's amazing.. I've already started speaking to them in Italian and French.. Swinging by to thank ya for the follow.. I absolutely love The muffin tin idea.. Following back..


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