Raising children quadrilingually

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@BullsFanCly - Thank you so much but i'm in Munich, so someone in Berlin won't be able to help us. We actually found a very kind and warm English speaking speech therapist, and since anything to do with children is cover by insurance we are happy to do this once a week - whether it helps or not. :)

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Nope, not in all cases, you're absolutely right. But I cringe when I hear "Oh, if your child learns more than one language he will automatically have a speech delay". That's simply not true and was not the case with our kids and many others that I know.

 

Yeah, Westvan is right. Learning more than one language at once does not cause a language delay. It's important to note that a speech delay and a language delay are not the same thing. "Speech" has to do with making sounds and the way one uses their lungs and mouth (tongue, lips, teeth, jaw, etc) in order to make those sounds. Stuttering, for example, is a speech issue. "Language" has to do with knowing meanings behind words, knowing how to put words together to communicate, etc.

 

Also when raising your kid with multiple languages, them using words from different languages in the same sentence isn't necessarily them being confused or not being able to distinguish between two languages. Pay close attention to what they say. Often times bilingual kids will do this more when around people that they know can understand both languages (their parents, for example), but in the end they end up producing most of their sentences in one language, which shows that they can differentiate between the two.

 

This thread makes me wish I was raised with two languages. So jealous of people who were <_<

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Chad, while speech and language are different matters, children with speech delays should see a Speech Pathologist.

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Uh, of course they should. I never said they shouldn't? Children with a speech or a language delay should see a speech-language pathologist. Language delays should definitely be checked out ASAP since a delay in language development can be a sign of an intelligence issue.

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Uh, of course they should. I never said they shouldn't? Children with a speech or a language delay should see a speech-language pathologist.

 

Just making sure, as you described speech motor skills, but Speech Pathologists are trained to help with many sorts of disorders, including speech delays in multi-lingual children.

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Uh, of course they should. I never said they shouldn't? Children with a speech or a language delay should see a speech-language pathologist. Language delays should definitely be checked out ASAP as one's understanding of language can be an intelligence issue.

 

I'm only trying to be clear, because I know these threads are archived for years and can help many others who seek to research such things.

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Well, mini-poppet speaks and understands French, English and German perfectly. He understands, but refuses to speak Spanish. He took possibly 6 months longer than normal to speak at all but there was no gooooooga, goooooooga phase, one day he just spoke. Good luck!

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That's wonderful! Our little boy just learned to say "papa" and took his solo first steps yesterday. These are fun times!

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My daughter is 6 years old and she is quadrilingual: Italian, Chinese, English and German.

 

 

  • Italian: speaking with her dad. Italian TV channels at home. Visits to or from my parents-in-law in Italy at least three times a year.

  • Chinese (Mandarin): speaking with me. I read story books to her at least three times per week. Sometimes we watch movies or series together. Visits to or from my parents in China about once a year.

  • English: she was born in the UK and stayed until 5 years old. Learned in nursery and then school. After moving to Germany, stayed in a bilingual (English/German) kindergarten for half a year and then started school (German). Now we listen to audio books together at least three times per week. Watch DVDs sometimes. We have a part-time babysitter (American) who averagely spends 2-3 hours with her per week. This year we visited friends in the UK for a week, hopefully we can keep that up.

  • German: After half a year in bilingual kindergarten, started German school. Her teacher said so far she follows the class just fine.

 

 

To sum up: exposure is the key.

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Yeti,... I'm still stuck on page one... How does changing the Guinea Pigs diet improve their grasp of Klingon? If I change my Canadian diet of Bear, Moose and fried Beaver to Sausage, Pretzel and beer will that finally get me over the hump of learning German? Dave the Barbarian.

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If I change my Canadian diet of Bear, Moose and fried Beaver to Sausage, Pretzel and beer will that finally get me over the hump of learning German?

 

Absolutely.

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Same story with us. 1 kid - 4 languages :) . Our kid is only 16 months old and he does not speak well in any of those 4 official languages in our family.

 

Children until 11 are like small wunderkids they grasp everything on the fly. They can be taught easily in any number of languages at this age, no problem.

 

A few very important keypoints (based on my and my multi culti relatives experience):

 

 

  1. Talk with your kid as much as you can.
    Whenever you pick something, do something, move, play - talk to your little kid, explain him what your
    are doing. How that thingy is called.
  2. Initially use very easy words: mama, papa, toy, play, do, stop, good, bravo.
  3. Your child understands much more then you can think of.
    Even when in belly on 6th month they can recognize mother's and father's voice.
  4. Use intonation, gestures, mimics as much as you can.
    You kid will understand that you interdict him something not because of what 'please dont do that' means - but
    because you look with angry face to him. Same for 'well done' - he see you happy - he gets it that he have done it right and only then associate 'well done' to this situations.
    Another example of good gesturing is clapping whenever was done right.
  5. Try to confuse your child as less as you can by starting with as less languages as you can.
    For example in my case I minimized it to 2 languages (german spoken in society and my and my wife's native) .
  6. Even if you don't follow points mentioned here remember this: Talk to your kid as much as you can.
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No offence meant but I hope English is not one of the four.

 

Edit:

 

 

This is why I don't speak with my son in English

 

No, English in not one of the four.

 

Thank you for not taking offence. As I said, I didn't want to be rude - the mention of so many languages reminded me of some (Swiss) friends of ours who lived in the States for a short while and then insisted on speaking English with their children when they went back home although neither of them was fluent in it. It was cringeworthy.

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No offence meant but I hope English is not one of the four.

This is why I don't speak with my son in English :P

 

No, English in not one of the four.

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German: After half a year in bilingual kindergarten, started German school. Her teacher said so far she follows the class just fine.

If your daughter only speaks German at school and you don't speak it with her at home, e.g. explaining new, more difficult words, then eventually she will lag behind with native German children.

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Maybe the key to quadrilingual kids is to speak to your child in bullet points and always finish up with a bold statement?

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If your daughter only speaks German at school and you don't speak it with her at home, e.g. explaining new, more difficult words, then eventually she will lag behind with native German children.

 

It is a two-edged sword, actually. If German is not your mother tongue, then the things you teach may not be fully correct. Additionally your accent, pronunciation, etc. will probably also not be natural.

 

Our daughter has just started the Kindergarten and the very first thing the teachers told us was for the ‘foreign’ parents not to try to use German at home (which, for us, was a nice confirmation that we might be doing the things right). The ‘bad’ German that the kids learn at home is something that is then very difficult to get rid of – we were told that it is simpler to teach German from scratch than to correct all the mistakes that are there already.

 

Also, you will never be able to express yourself in a foreign language in a way that you can do this in your mother tongue. When it comes to strong feelings the mother tongue is much better to come across with the ideas.

 

I guess it all depends on your level of German – if you believe it is near to native then your kid will benefit from you using it – otherwise it is better to stick to your own language.

 

Cheers,

 

krakp

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Lol, "bad" german. It´s just a language - they make it sound as if nobody can ever correctly learn a foreign language. Why do people think that what "teachers" say has to be correct?

 

wrt strong feelings, it has mostly to do with learning the "appropriate" colloquial expression and/or figure of speech which correspond to the same figure of speech in your mother tongue. If the two aren´t particularly far apart (like most indo-european languages aren´t), it´s not going to be extremely hard.

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Strongly disagree. Unless you are bi(tri etc.)lingual, or an extremely linguistically gifted individual you will not be able to "just" learn new phrases, substitute you native tongue with them and come across exactly the same like speaking the language in which you grew up.

 

Language is not just collection of words glued together by few grammar rules, it's a door to somebody's world of ideas, concepts, beliefs.. and much more. Each language is a window to a different culture. And you can't say all and exactly the same things in any given language, as different languages will use different concepts.

 

If it was so easy to learn German why most foreigners I know, who've been living here for years (including me) still don't get the perfect German pronunciation and make mistakes?

 

Regarding the argument about indoeuropean languages being quite similar - excuse me? According to Wiki this language group comprises most of the languages spoken currently in Europe. Are they really so similar - I didn't notice.

 

To sum up - it is important to speak to your child in language which you master very well and in which you are very comfortable expressing yourself, and that would be your mother tongue.

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We don't speak any German to our kids at home, they 'only' speak German at school and my 16 year old is top of her class. They do do the odd club in German and have mates that they play with, but most of our family social life is English. I couldn't run our household in German - they would just laugh at me and ignore everything I said. Strongly with the - stick to what you're good at - crowd here.

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