Raising children quadrilingually

140 posts in this topic

Another Toytown challange! And I'm not asking for a friend.

 

I'm Polish, my wife is Brazilian, we live in Germany, communicate mostly in English at home (let's say 90% - the rest is Polish, Portuguese and German).

 

We still don't have kids but are quite interested if there is anybody out there whose kids also pick up 4 languages at once. Any experience? Otherwise the only way for us will be to extrapolate the experiences from the bilingual and trilingual threads.

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Yeah but the thing is:

 

Polish is my mother tongue - I'm planning to use it with my kids

Portuguese is my wife's mother tongue - she'll do the same

We live in Germany - the kiddies will have too pick up German

We speak mostly English at home with my wife and I don't think it will change really.

 

So it is not just the matter of the number of languages the parents can speak it is rather about which are really spoken...

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If I were you I'd get a Chinese aupair for your children.

Please do not give ideas.

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I worked at a Montessori Kindergarten in Munich where one kid spoke 3 languages; English, French and German, as her parents were Swiss and French but also spoke English to her. She seemed perfectly fine and was a very cute kid. But she would get confused a lot of the time as to which language she should speak, and when.

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Everyone knows that the only difference between high and low Elvish is purely related to the pronunciation of adjectives and the fact that low Elvish doesn't have a word for 'fluffy'.

Tell that to the Sea Elves!

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I'm worried that my kids are picking up very badly accented Klingon from the guinea pigs. Should I change their food?

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I have a friend who was raised by one French and one German parent in London. She has been trilingual since she learned to speak and it has caused her no problems whatsoever (though educationists warned it would hold her back at school, which it didn't)

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I think the goals you've set for your non existent children are great . . . I have thought about the same thing for my non existent children (Thai, German, English, Slovakian).

 

My husband speaks 7 languages (8 if you count his crappy Greek). He was sent to live with his oma in Slovakia until he was 3 or 4, and both his parents speak Slovakian most of the time; so I don't think he really learned German until kindergarten. My situation was very similar. I spoke Thai at home until kindergarten, where I had to learn English.

 

Anyway, my husband didn't really pick up all of the other languages until primary school and so forth, but being bilingual at an early age helped him to become septilingual (real word?).

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A friend of my sister speaks 11 languages, which to me is just scary!

 

I met him at her wedding, and he's bloody good at the ones I could understand.

 

Admittedly, he only learned a handful of them during his early childhood...

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I think the goals you've set for your non existent children are great . . . (..)

To be honest these are not really goals...I'm just sure that I want the kids to speak my language and my wife's language. German and English are just added since we live in Germany and speak English to each other. So rather than setting goals I'm just interested how the kids will cope with this reality...

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If I were you I'd get a Chinese aupair for your children.

Rather thinking about a German one...this way they could learn some German at home :-)

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Actually, it depends a lot on the kid - my sons are, um... differently talented. I do know, in a friend-of-a-friend way, of a little girl who grew up in that circumstance (different languages though, Danish, English, Urdu and something) and she learned all four, so I think it could work in your situation as well.

 

It's definitely worth a try, and it's a good idea to keep the kids in contact with their extended families in Poland and Brazil. Also, I've learned that gift-giving grandparents who only speak the one language are a huge motivator for a child.

 

This looks like a useful resource.

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It's definitely worth a try (...)

Again - this is not something we are treating as an interesting experiment...This is just our reality and we hope that the kids will find their way in it :-)

 

it's a good idea to keep the kids in contact with their extended families in Poland and Brazil. Also, I've learned that gift-giving grandparents who only speak the one language are a huge motivator for a child.

Yeah, we'll definitely do this :-). And true, the grandparents speak only one language - this way the kids will have to learn...

 

Thanks!

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A Portugese client of ours told me that she learned 4 languages before leaving kindergarten (Port, Span, French, Eng). She doesn't recall any problems with learning though, and neither did any of her siblings.

 

But I think whatever learning "problems" that may arise (ie - frustration, confusion, etc...) can probably be resolved much easier than learning different languages later in life . . . No first hand experience with 4 languages . . . Good luck ^_^

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I'm cunnilingual but I only speak it with my mouth full. Does it count because it's only an oral language?

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