Raising children quadrilingually

164 posts in this topic

 

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The only way with Polish and Portuguese is to spend as much time as possible in Poland and Brazil - there is no other way. ...

 

Portugal might work in lieu of Brazil. ;)

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Kay, I think it's just a question of definitions. I was surprised to find out that it's possible to have more than 100% vision. They work it out on the norm being 100% and hawk-eyes are rated as more. In the USA I think they have a different system- 20/20, 20/40, etc.

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I can see the thread got revived again thanks to kachut :-)

 

Let me give you some update from my side. Our daughter is now 16 months old. At home I only speak Polish with her, my wife speaks only Portuguese. Since September this year, she has being going to the Kinderkrippe (nursery school) where only German is spoken.

 

At the moment she is able to understand some words and expressions in Portuguese, Polish and German (that's what we were told at the Kinderkrippe). She doesn't really speak still but tries to imitate some words: mostly in Portuguese (she spent the first 14 months at home with my wife), sometimes in Polish and recently she's been bringing some German words home ('Ball' is the latest runner). No English at the moment - although we use it with my wife speaking to each other, we don't address our daughter in English - so she is not really learning it.

 

I will keep you updated on the futher development.

 

Thanks everybody for all the opinions and experiences described in this thread!

Cheers!

krakp

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Someone recommended The Bilingual Edge and it was a great help. Language Strategies for Bilingual Families by Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert also addresses multilingual families' issues, and Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa's Raising Multilingual Children is also good. I found them all available for Fernleihe through the LMU library or at LMU's English language library.

 

Someone mentioned "semilingualism." From what I've researched, this would only be a problem if the kids never went to school in any language. The language they receive their formal education in will probably be their dominant and strongest language, at least while they are in school. While it is possible to have a passive knowledge of a language (understanding but not speaking), semilingualism is not a problem among societies where kids must go to school.

 

If you homeschool your kids in a mixture between Klingon and Elvish and Pig Latin, however, you might run into some problems...

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Thanks very much krakp, for not only initiating this thread but also posting updates! :) I and my fiancee are in the same shoes (2 pairs of them, i.e. :D) as you & your wife were, 2 years ago. And I'd recently started to wonder about exactly the same thing: should a child be exposed to multilingual environment right from the beginning and this thread has indeed provided some great experiences!

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My three-year-old granddaughter hears German from her mother and English from her father. But since she is immersed in Germanout in the Bavarian countryside, she speaks only that language. When I visited this summer she understood almost everything I said to her in English. Her Omi had tried speaking a little English to her, but she said (auf Deutsch), "No! Women don't speak English!" Now I think she has revised this to accommodate my occasional visits - something like only visiting women (my sister and I) speak English. I would repeat to her in English what she said to me in German, in an attempt to give her a little more vocabulary, something her father doesn't do. She does speak in English occasionally, when she and her father sing nursery rhymes or recite little poems. She's now bringing Bayerisch home from Kindergarten.

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System? What system?

 

Our parents and grandparents did not have a system and it all worked out fine for millions of people around the globe. Just speak to you children in whatever language you want to, a child brain is a like a sponge and will suck it up. The key thing is exposure to enviroment and languages at an early stage, Ok there of course has to be some level of consistency. And make it fun! sing songs in different languages, watch cartoons, make jokes to your kids in another language in a crowd so it becomes personal joke between the two of you.

 

For me personally, I always found people trying new fangled education systems and weird rules, end up having more headaches and pressure than just plain old organic learning.

 

OK with my scientific brain on, you only have to learn a few base roots which all languages follow, e.g an Anglo-Saxon based, Romance/Latin based and pictoral based. So something like English, Spanish and Chinese. That pretty much covers german, portueges, french, italian and japanese.

 

Since once you are good enough with one, it doesnt take a huge leap to become conversational in its "sister" languages. the fine tuning can be done if they feel motivate but generally will be an understandable/conversational level already.

 

So personally, I wont get hung up with, X speaks to kids in Y time and Z at A time with Mr and Mrs. B. and if you break rule XYZ, your kid will have a mental breakdown.

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you might want to try having the children first and taking it as it comes. Parenting is a process and much of it is learning by doing. What if your child has hearing problems for example. You will have nine months to consider those things, but at the moment, maybe you should focus on something more tangible.

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Tangible ...yup, that is what counts.

 

Right now, our daughter is choosing a Gymnasium to enter and study for her high school choice. Bless her, she wants to be a doctor and she likes animals (which was exactly what I wanted when I was young and I ended up studying Medicine to be a surgeon.) So she will have to take the Gymnasium route - 4 Years followed by 2 Year Abitur, then University and Medical school.

 

The Gymnasium we are selecting has a bonus point of Chinese as one of the foreign language subjects offered (Gymnasiums in Germany require 2 foreign language choices. And favour selecting those who get a 2.1 point average and are good in both German and English. Since our daughter is getting 1 for English and 2 for German, they seem confident of picking her. Her point average is 2.33 (so we need to work a bit more before the next lot of exams to push her average up.)

 

Chins up everyone teaching their children multiple languages, it is hard but the results are worth it and it will benefit them their whole lives, know you are doing good for them and the right thing.

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Lovepuss - there is a thread somewhere about learning Mandarin. Re medical school, it is getting harder and harder to get in. My daughter scraped in two years ago and has been moaning ever since about how they are taught and amount of rote learning. My husband says there's talk of a 1.0 NC next year. Maybe it will have eased by the time Lovekitten is applying. Good luck

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I am aware of the difficulties of Medschool having been there.

 

But seriously, being in Medicine was what my daughter likes and has strong interest in. I aced Biology even in high school (scored the highest in the whole school in Biology exam) and I can see that she has the same intensity and passion about it. She is very like me in character and personality. It takes a certain kind of character and personality to get into Medicine. You must be tenacious enough.

 

I told her if you are good, you end up a surgeon maybe as an ophthalmological surgeon. If you are not that good, you can go Dentistry or Pharmacy or end up as a veterinarian which isn't too bad for us animal-lovers.

 

It is a taken Chinese won't be easy. It wasn't easy for me either or for my brother nor for my whole family (and we are Chinese) especially writing - lots of memorizing the Chinese characters but we all learn like that. My daughter is half Chinese, half German and has intense interest in Chinese language and culture. She even googles Chinese characters to learn new Chinese words by herself on her own initiative. That is what is called interest and you can't take that away from her. She speaks Chinese correctly with the correct pronunciation even. I see my nephews/niece in Singapore all doing the same and it will be no different with her.

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My cousin is in the same situation living in Luxembourg:

German (she), Greek (husband), English (lingua franca), French PLUS Letzeburgisch (local).

Kid is in a greek school with German as a first foreign language.

 

Point is, you have to speak your native tongue with your child,

your partner his. the other languages will have to be teached in another way.

A non native speaker should not teach a not so perfect language to a child.

 

And you should speak only one to your child. The english from the parents will be picked up, but it is a big mistake to mix the languages.

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LOVEPUSS - You're lucky that you had something you were really good at and interested in. Both my husband and I were good at school but didn't see our way before us, which has led to rather a zigzag path through life.I fear that daughter is similar.

 

Are you at the Charite? I hear that they have a top medical school and also give preference to candidiates with good marks in science Leistungskurse.

I've heard that it's just as difficult to get in to do vetinary sciene as medicine, due to all the bright girls who love animals!

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Aww thank you. I was in Medicine aiming for surgery hopefully as an ophthalmological surgeon (less gory blood to deal with during surgery) but realized my hands shake after gardening. I quit after it happened the second time as I did not want to end up in Dentistry or Pharmacy and I would not trust myself with surgery of animals either. So I went corporate which was pretty good working in IBM and earning 4 times what people usually get in very high profile customer service. Ended up with pretty good results too, now owning a property which I earned myself in Singapore.

 

As an interesting side note, later when seeking treatment for my eyes, I met this ophthalmological surgeon who told me that his hands shake after gardening too but the shaking is temporary and he could still do surgery after that. He knew I still had keen interest in Medicine and urged me to go study that here after I get my German to C2 level. I smiled but told him it doesn't matter now because I was having eye problems.

 

Ah well, I was happy to know my daughter has my gifts/talents and same interest and passion in her Science subjects. In a way, she is fulfilling my doctor dream. Life isn't what you planned it to be but it is still very rewarding in my case, having fulfilled my dreams and I instilled that in her.

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LOVEPUSS: I'm a believer in Chinese genes, or maybe it's the work ethic. I coached a Chinese girl for the IELTS exam and was amazed about how focussed she was.

 

Interestingly, my daughter is living out daddy's dream of medical studies. He has got very good fine motoric skills - hobby is undoing knots. But he also wanted to be an actor and would have supported daughter through drama school ( a possible outcome).

 

I talked to someone in my painting class recently, who suggested that being an opthalmic surgeon was the way to go. I recently read a magazine article about a couple who were the last opthalmic surgeons left in Zimbabwie. They were doing operations -cateract and so on - every five minutes. I felt very strongly that it would be great thing to be a doctor and be able to make the blind see.

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Yes, my daughter also possesses the same tenacity and intensity and focus to problem-solve and go after what she wants like I do. I am also very touched when my daughter said she hopes that she can help me see better when she becomes an eye doctor.

 

I am amazed how mature that sounds for a 12 year old. Kids grow up real fast these days...before you know it, they are already thinking and acting like adults.

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I understand where you're coming from. I imagine it's possible to teach a child several languages (as in, I think a child can acquire many languages simultaneously) however I think you're going to struggle to do all the teaching between the two of you!

My husband is German and I am Australian and we have spoken English since we met. It's really hard to break the habit when you're use to communicating in a particular language.

Good luck though. How awesome to be able to speak so many languages.

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Yes, it is. We had to split the subjects. I teach my daughter English, Science and Geography. My husband teaches her German, Maths and History. Other than German, I aced all these subjects in high school. So yeah, Chinese will have to be taught by me when she enters Gymnasium, including Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

 

All parents do this gladly. Anything we can do to advance our children's lives is no great sacrifice. That's what teaching your children more languages is : training them and equipping them to cope better in life later on.

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