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Bilingual babies?

Discussion in 'Family, Home & Health' started by Lanie, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. Lanie
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    by Lanie » Jan 17, 2011
    I originally started this thread but it has been locked. I wanted to bump it to see if anyone else was in this camp. I just had a baby (4 weeks old) and I was dead set on speaking Spanish to him. I have to say though, it's been tough since it doesn't feel natural. Heck, even talking to him all day long is tough to do. It's very hard to have a one sided conversation! Does anyone have any more input on 2 languages when they are little? https://www.pricescope.com/community/threads/any-of-you-raising-your-kids-by-speaking-to-them-in-a-foreign-language.120093/?hilit=bilingual
     
    


    


  2. dragonfly411
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    by dragonfly411 » Jan 17, 2011
    Lanie - I wasn't one, but a friend of mine was raised bilingual. Her parents would shift back and forth English to Spanish
     
  3. Lanie
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    by Lanie » Jan 17, 2011
    dragonfly -- thanks for chiming in! That's interesting. And she was fully bilingual in both?
     
  4. TravelingGal
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    by TravelingGal » Jan 17, 2011
    Lanie, I commented on that other thread, but basically I've pretty much given up hope of my kid really learning Korean at a young age. Too many people speaking to her in English, and if I spoke Korean, I'd be teaching her crappy accented Korean. My mom speaks to her in Korean, but I don't think Amelia understands. The only non-english words she choose to use are Spanish (gotta love Dora).

    She's also nearly 3 and her window for pronunciation seems to be closing up. One of the first words she learned was "halmoni" which isn't easy for English speakers to say since the "l" is actually a cross between an L and a R and the sound doesn't exist in English. She pronounces that word perfectly. Now if I ever try to teach her a Korean word, she can't say it correctly...she sounds like an American person trying to speak Korean.

    She might have a shot at understanding it OK, but since my first language was Korean and I speak at about a 3rd grade level, I don't have much hope for her.

    An update on my friend whose kid is trilingual (I mentioned him on the other thread) - because both parents still ONLY speak exclusively in their own languages, the kid is still fantastically trilingual. But his primary language has now turned into English. He just started preschool though (at age 4.5) so we'll see if it keeps up as usually the dealbreaker comes when they start school. He probably has a better chance at retaining because they started him in school "late" compared to a lot of kids in our area who start at age 2-3.
     
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  5. fieryred33143
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    by fieryred33143 » Jan 17, 2011
    Lanie-I grew up bilingual. My mom spoke to me all day in Spanish while my dad spoke to me in English. I am fluent in Spanish. Practice is key.

    With my daughter, we don't speak to her in just one language because at home we switch between both. She chooses which words she's most comfortable with and will either say the English or Spanish version of it. For example, she says pelo, head, ojos, boca, nose, ears, feet, mano, and belly. Though she hears the body parts in both languages. Another example, she is more comfortable repeating her numbers in English than she is in Spanish and she understands certain phrases better in English, Spanish, or both. For example, she gets confused if I say take this to the garbage or pon esto en la basura. But if I say take this to la basura, she understands. We do make an effort to repeat words in both languages.

    I've read that speaking to them in one language, preferably the foreign one, is best because they will learn the most common language in school. Our intention was to do this but as you mentioned, it's just not natural/practical for us. We live in a city that is heavily influenced by the Latino culture so we feel confident that she will get the opportunity to fully learn and appreciate both. Plus, her grandparents from FI's side only speak to her in Spanish and my mom speaks to her mostly in Spanish so she'll pick up on both, I'm sure of it.

    Some ideas for you are to get toys that have an English and Spanish version to it (leapfrog is great!) and leave the Spanish version flipped on as much as possible. Also, get some books in Spanish to read to him. There's a great selection of simple books in Spanish at all the book stores and you can usually find the English counterpart. We also listen to a lot of (if not all) music in Spanish.
     
  6. MichelleCarmen
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    by MichelleCarmen » Jan 17, 2011
    Same - a friend of mine has three kids and taught them all spanish and they speak spanish at home and mostly speak english in public, however, often she'll make comments to them in spanish when us others are around. All three of her kids know both languages but she said her eldest is beginning to loose interest.

    If I had the option, I would at least try teaching my kids a second language. English was my mom's second language and I always wish she had taught me German. All she taught me was to count to 10 and then a few swear words :roll: . Since she had an accent, the rhythym of German sounds familiar to me when hearing others speak German.
     
  7. MichelleCarmen
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    by MichelleCarmen » Jan 17, 2011
    There's a lot of Spanish speaking families in cities nearby by us. I was looking on CL and found jobs which paid more to those who are bilingual. Something to think about. It is a real advantage to speaking more than one language and I do think Spanish would be the best choice.

    I took both Spanish and French in HS and wasn't very good at either. In college, my professor yelled at me in front of the class saying I had the worst accent he's ever heard. lol
     
  8. charbie
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    by charbie » Jan 17, 2011
    I lived in in Switzerland for a year with a family who spoke 2 languages at home, Spanish and German. The parents spoke Spanish usually with one another, then the mom spoke Spanish with the kids but the dad spoke Swiss german (dialect) with the kids. They mainly learned German at school, on TV, and written word, and the dialect among friends and family. My host mother didn't understand much german at all, even though she lived in Switzerland for over 30 years. She had segregated herself and only watched Spanish TV, and probably knew every Spanish speaker in the city. It was really interesting to be at the dinner table with my host mom speaking spanish, host dad speaking german, and my host brother then speaking english to me. The key was consistency. The kids just knew to speak spanish with their mother. There may have been all 5 of them having a conversation, and they all just changed language depending on who they were speaking with. And even with them being exposed to so much Spanish, swiss german dialect was all of the kids language of choice.
     
  9. fieryred33143
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    by fieryred33143 » Jan 17, 2011
    MC-there is a need for Spanish speakers in many companies. Developers in Latin America have more equity to build and grow franchises than some US franchisees and developers do. Plus, there is land and space for growth in these countries. Businesses recognize thIs so they usually look for candidates that can speak both. There is a push on major companies to expand globally so being bilingual can really put you above someone else in the pool of job applicants. Recently my former company was looking for individuals who knew both English and Japanese as they were beginning to build in Japan. That's why I shake my head when I hear of parents who are so against their child(ren) learning a language other than English. It's such a disservice to them, especially in the business field. Doesn't mean the parent should be fluent in anything but should encourage their child to take the courses.
     
  10. Haven
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    by Haven » Jan 17, 2011
    Lanie--The key will be using both languages naturally when speaking to your son, and around your son. He can become fluent in both languages, but only if he is regularly exposed to both in *natural* situations.

    I bet speaking Spanish will start to feel more natural to you if you continue doing it. You could also go on meetup.com and find some Mommy/baby Spanish-speaking groups. We have a lot of such groups in my area for many different languages. That would help the Spanish feel more natural to you, too.

    We don't have kids yet, but we hope to teach them Hebrew from birth. I'm learning German now, and if I'm fluent by the time we have kids, we'll speak German to them, as well.

    ETA: I'm a reading specialist, by the way. We study dual-language environments and how they affect literacy development later in life.
     
    


    


  11. Lanie
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    by Lanie » Jan 17, 2011
    Thanks for all the tips! Keep them coming! My biggest fear is language delay early on when he's trying to decide which one to choose. I've read that it is common but once they get over the hurdle, it's like a deluge. And to keep consistent, even if you get scared that they will end up suffering in both languages. That usually doesn't happen, but I'm sure that's hard to keep doing if you notice a delay!

    Fiery--did you notice a delay at all with S?

    Haven--I did a study for my masters on the effects of bilingualism and literacy while learning third and fourth languages. It turned out that kids who were literate in their home language (the minority language) were better at learning new languages overall. So if anyone is trying to teach another language, literacy is key as well. I might wait and have him learn to read in English first though. Haven't thought of that one yet. What have you found in your work? Hebrew would be really cool to learn! I tried learning German as well. It's such a logical language, but so tricky! A Spanish speaking playgroup is a fabulous idea!

    TGal--even if it's elementary, I still think any input in your language would be beneficial, no? She might take an interest in it later on. That's funny about Dora!

    MC--isn't it funny how people often are fluent in the swear words?! And that's awful of your professor. Languages are so hard for many people, and that is so discouraging.

    Charbie--what a scene at the dinner table! That is too cool!

    I do have a healthy library of Spanish books. More than English in fact. And I pretty much listen to Spanish music more than English, so that's a good point as well. Like fiery, I also hate when parents who have the ability to teach another language don't do it. It's such an asset, plus studies show increased scores in many areas (reading comp, critical thinking come to mind) for little bilingual minds.
     
  12. soocool
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    by soocool » Jan 17, 2011
    My IL's wanted DD to speak Polish so DH and my ILs would speak to her in Polish only after she was born. I am not Polish so I do not speak it. I understand a little, but do not speak a word. Well when DD was little she would utter a few Polish words here and there. Even now she understands Polish (most not all), but does not speak a word.

    My IL's used to threaten alot yelling at her, making her repeat things by holding her down, and witholding food if she did not speak to them in Polish . They wanted her to attend Polish school on Saturdays, and while I think it is great to know a second language, I think IL's tactics made DD hate the language and she refused to go. DH and I did not force her.

    I no longer have anything to do with my IL's, fought with them when I found out what they were doing. But I think if you make it fun then the child will learn. If both parents speak a second language it would probably be easier. In my area I have seen many classes for mommy and me language courses.
     
  13. fieryred33143
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    by fieryred33143 » Jan 17, 2011
    I haven't Lanie. It's actually the opposite. Her pedi expected her to either say or understand 10+ words. She says 50+ and repeats things all day long. As far as phrases goes, we are still working on it because she isn't there yet developmentally which is on par from what I've read for 18months.
     
  14. MichelleCarmen
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    by MichelleCarmen » Jan 17, 2011
    Lanie - Yeah, that professer was a total jerk, so I wasn't much swayed by his comment. The only issue was I in the process of taking classes in archaeology and had considered studying mesoamerican cultures. lol At least I can say teotihuacan! That's more impressive than hola! lol

    Haven - are you taking German classes? My older son decided he wanted to learn Latin, and I tried explaining to him that NOBODY speaks Latin and even the librarian was stumped when I asked for CDs teaching Latin (for kids :)). lol He soon lost interest, though, so problem solved. Now I would like to begin playing Spanish CDs in the car.
     
  15. Pandora II
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    by Pandora II » Jan 17, 2011
    MC - I studied Latin at school for 10 years and it was a huge help when I moved to Italy as so many words were similar and I picked it up much faster than I would have done.

    I'm bilingual in Italian/English and I hoped to bring Daisy up in both. I do speak to her in Italian quite a lot when we are on our own and I mainly sing Italian songs rather than English ones to her, but I think you have to be far more consistent to actually have the child learn both.

    My hope is that she will develop an ear for other languages and that may help her in the future. She's now 20 months and has 200+ words, knows numbers 1-10 and can do 3 word sentences but even though she does understand some Italian words, she will only speak English. She'll repeat most words that you say to her but seems to know the non-English ones as she refuses to say them - was suprised at that!
     
    


    


  16. puffy
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    by puffy » Jan 18, 2011
    with B, who is 3 now, we did both chinese and english and he picked up on both very quickly. he was also a super early talker, an entire conversation at 18 months. he speaks both perfectly fine and when we speak to him in chinese, he will respond in chinese and in english, the same. i was worried that he wouldn't pick up on it, or he would be confused by it, but he wasn't. at his preschool, he learns some spanish as well, and is doing very well with that also. he also doesn't prefer one language over the other. it's just whatever he is spoken to, he will reply back in. he knows basically everything in both languages.

    with N, who is 1, we also did the same. i spoke to him in chinese and english very early on. he obviously doesn't reply back to me yet, but when i ask him a question is chinese, he will point to what i'm talking about or get the thing that i asked for, and same with english. so i assume that he is picking up on it. he says a few words in both languages so i don't think that he will have a speech delay.
     
  17. Dancing Fire
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    by Dancing Fire » Jan 18, 2011
    both of our daughters spoke only in chinese before they started kindergarten,then after they started school both of them had forgotten how to speak chinese... :rolleyes:
     
  18. Trekkie
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    by Trekkie » Jan 18, 2011
    I ended up being multilingual purely by accident.

    When I was born my mother decided that she was not going to speak Afrikaans to me (her first language). She wanted me to speak fluent English without an Afrikaans accent because of the economic advantages it conveyed at the time (eighties Apartheid South Africa).

    However, a few weeks after I was born my mother sent me to live with her mother and my grandmother spoke only Afrikaans to me. When I saw my dad, he would speak English (he's from England and can only speak English). Our maid/nanny only spoke isiXhosa to me...

    So by the time I started pre-school at four or five, I was fluent in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa but I was only able to read in English and Afrikaans. Now, twenty years later I am fluent in English and Afrikaans and read both. I still can't read much isiXhosa, but I blame that on the dearth of isiXhosa literature out there.

    When we have children they will be sent to English schools (an undeniable economic advantage where we live) but we will speak Afrikaans to them at home and our our nanny will be instructed to only speak isiXhosa, from day one. I feel constant, consistent exposure to a language is the only way they will learn.

    I love that my grandmother disregarded my mother's wishes and taught me Afrikaans - it is awesome having insight into another language and being able to follow conversations that I shouldn't!
     
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  19. Deelight
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    by Deelight » Jan 18, 2011

    This was me - I was born in Australia and English my second language. I was teased for being an ethnic so I refused to speak Serbian and only English - I did not know how to speak English until I went to school. Growing up my mother would speak to me in Serbian when I was little and I would understand her and respond in English.

    When I was 9 my mother took me to Serbia for a 3 month holiday - result I can now speak both Serbian and English and intermix between the 2 my Serbian is far from perfect however I can speak well enough - I also can understand a lot of Slavic languages and when I was learning French at school I found it easier then my peers to pick it up .

    I say go for it I plan to teach our LO Serbian and speak to her now in Serb not sure how much she understands in the belly LOL - she will hopefully learn both concurrently - my niece did I also cause I went to Serbian school can read Cyrillic which is not that handy just a fun and cool skill to have :).

    It is hard but it is worth it I think
     
  20. MonkeyPie
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    by MonkeyPie » Jan 18, 2011
    I like this thread. :))

    My husband and I both speak English, but understand a decent amount of Spanish. My mom, his mom, and all of our grandparents speak Spanish and English so they only talk to him in Spanish. I want him to be exposed to both, and hopefully to learn both. Or at least be open to it. Right now (at 9 months) he only says a couple words, but two of them are in Spanish. I'm pleased :praise: I hope he retains it!
     
  21. MichelleCarmen
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    by MichelleCarmen » Jan 18, 2011
    Pandora - yeah, I've always thought of Latin as a foundation language...it's just finding anything to teach my son is impossible. We have a fairly good library system, but nothing appropriate for kids (or for me for that matter) except for the standard languages like Spanish, French, German, and a few others, and I don't want to buy anything at this time, such as Rosetta Stone which is $200+, so maybe we'll just work with Spanish. That is the language I want both my kids to learn, but I won't force it on them, like how in that other thread where parents insist kids get As, etc. If one shows a natural inclination/desire to learn another language, I'll be entirely supportive of that.

    A few months ago, my 8 year old started making up his own language. It is really odd and what is even more odd is that he is consistant in the word meanings. He comes up with some jiberish word and always keeps the definition for that word the same. Then he tests me on the words.
     
  22. NovemberBride
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    by NovemberBride » Jan 18, 2011
    My DD is not bilingual, but I have several friends who are trying to raise their children to be bilingual in English and Spanish. Several of them have noticed a language delay, but that it passes quite quickly. It seems based on my friend's anecdotal experience that they are delayed between 1-3 and then begin to catch up quickly. I am sure it is different in every case, but several of my friends seem to have the same experience. All kids begin talking at different ages anyways, and I think it would totally be worth it for a child to be bilingual even if it means they don't talk as much for a year or so.
     
  23. anchor31
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    by anchor31 » Jan 19, 2011
    I am trying to raise DS in French and English. We are French-Canadian and our main language is French, but I learned English young and it's a huge advantage. I try to switch back and forth between both languages, but you're right that it doesn't come naturally. However, I try to sing and read to him mostly in English and I only watch TV in English, so I think it helps. DS is 12 months and doesn't speak yet, but there are about a dozen simple things he obviously understands and he seems to understand them in both languages.
     
  24. Cupcake*Muffin
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    by Cupcake*Muffin » Jan 19, 2011
    Just to chime in here...I am trilingual. I speak English, Mandarin Chinese, and Taiwanese. I also learned Japanese in college and can understand it but I am really out of practice. For my job it is required that I know these languages so I do get some day to day use. Growing up I could only retain one language at a time. English was my first language, however, I was shipped to Taiwan around age 2, learned Taiwanese and Mandarin and came back to the US when I was 5. Unfortunately, I promptly forgot Mandarin and Taiwanese when I relearned English. This went on and on until I was around puberty...then one day it just clicked. I think it helps that I went back to Taiwan every summer until I was about 12. I also lived there from 12-14.

    Since we are expecting a baby in the next few months, I have asked that DH start learning his Mandarin via the Rosetta Stone. While he was recovering from his back surgery he was learning some however, it was slow. One thing that I believe science has proven is that if you have never heard some sounds before puberty you will never be able to hear them later in life...so when DH thinks he is saying what I am saying, he's really not. :cheeky: Asian languages are very tonal and its extremely hard to learn it and speak it without an accent once you get older. I do not speak it with an accent after a few days of constant use. I also do not have an Asian accent which surprises alot of my husband's Southern friends because they automatically assume that my English would be broken and heavily accented. :roll:

    Our goal for our baby is to hire a Chinese "Ah-ma" to watch her until she is old enough to enroll into Chinese daycare. I know she will be expose to enough English that learning English will not be a problem so it's more important to me that she is immersed in Chinese language from the get-go. Obviously, she will attend a local school when she gets old enough but I do plan on having her enroll in Chinese after school programs. I registered for Chinese language DVDs for babies...not sure how well they work, however, I figured it couldn't hurt to have them playing in the background. I also got some fun cartoons that are in Chinese for this purpose. I think what is going to be key is that DH learns and uses Chinese in the home. I would love it for my children to be able to understand her/his family in Taiwan. We also have plans on making yearly trips to Taiwan to get the kids accolmated to the culture, food, and language. Overall, I feel like it's doable but it's a big committment.
     
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  25. ChargerGrrl
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    by ChargerGrrl » Jan 19, 2011
    great thread

    i'm mexican/italian and DH is french canadian.

    i speak spanish fluently, can understand italian and both DH's and my french is passable.

    i try to speak spanish here and there to N, but it just doesn't flow naturally. but his abuela only speaks it to him and then he has his spanish toys. i figure he'll pick it up one way or another.

    french may be trickier...
     
  26. rosetta
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    by rosetta » Jan 20, 2011
    I am bilingual and understand another three, but my grammar is too embarassing to attempt to speak them.

    I too only learned to speak English at school. I am truly grateful to my parents for insisting our native language was preserved.

    None of my friend's kids have retained their respective native languages, a great shame. Now they will never learn to speak in the correct accent, if at all.
     
  27. yssie
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    by yssie » Jan 20, 2011

    Rosetta what is your native language, if I can ask?


    I too am bilingual - well, can understand and speak fluently in English and Tamil but can only read/write in the one, and I tend to stick to English unless I'm talking to one of my relatives who speaks only Tamil. For as long as I can remember my parents have switched on and off in both languages when talking to me or to each other - a given sentence might be half in one and half in the other, DH always comments on how strange it is to listen to their conversations ::)

    I definitely found "growing up with" a different language to be very different from learning French w/ my tutor/in school, and I took French classes for 10 years.. I still have to think about the sentence structure and conjugations for everything I want to say, and I have the full sentence planned out in my head before the first word comes out of my mouth.. Tamil - I don't even know the proper grammar conventions, it just 'comes out the way it should', naturally, with no need to think about it or pre-plan it. But of course when I go back to India after five years everyone laughs at my speech because my slang and mannerisms are five years dated 8) Very strange!
     
  28. diva rose
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    by diva rose » Jan 20, 2011
    Cupcake ~ do you recommend Rosetta? I need to learn Mandarin for my in laws. Prefer something with a Taiwanese accent rather than Chinese. I heard there is a difference. What I find is with age, people revert back to their first language. Same as my mother. She is fluent in English and Korean however lately I have noticed her English is becoming more 'broken'.

    I'm Korean-Australian and my DH is Taiwanese-Canadian. So we plan on exposing three languages at home to our future child or children.

    As a speech pathologist (speech language pathologist in US), I do support introducing two or three languages at home. Below are some ideas to help support learning. For my examples, I'm using English as the language used at school/country and Korean as the language we want to teach our child.

    1. Set time aside for a specific language. Allocating it to a specific activity helps. For example, reading time, bath time, eating time etc. During this period you only use your second language - in this case Korean.

    Introduce to your child you will be using this language. e.g. "Jessica! time for reading. Mummy is going to speak in Korean now." Then you read the story to your child and interact with your child in Korean for that period. This works well with parents who don't feel 'natural' speaking their other language because it helps you getting into that zone. :)

    You need to do it frequently and daily if possible - practice is indeed the key. I love reading time because you can target vocabulary, numbers etc. Children also usually love reading time.

    Cupcake - having the Taiwanese helper is a fantastic idea. She can use mandarin to your child all the time but make sure she actually sets aside time for the 'teaching' part. :D

    2. Don't mix the different languages in a sentence. For example - don't suddenly speak to them in english then add Korean words. If you are going to say a sentence in English - keep all the words in English. Otherwise it does confuse the children. When they become more fluent - you can mix it.

    3. Earlier is better! Exposure at an earlier age is better for learning because of the way our babies/young children learn language.

    Check these parents friendly links below on bilingual babies. :)
    http://www.babiestoday.com/articles/speech-and-language/bilingual-babies-116/

    http://www.babiestoday.com/articles/speech-and-language/development-in-bilingual-infants-5201/

    ***For families where their main language spoken at home is not English - continue speaking in your native language. Teach English as mentioned above in secion 1.

    The only time I do not recommend teaching a child another language is when they have significant learning delay and already have great difficulties with learning their first language.

    Hope this helps. :)
     
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  29. anchor31
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    by anchor31 » Jan 21, 2011
    Thank you, diva rose! It seems like what I'm doing (reading and singing in English) is a good way to proceed. Sometimes I will say something in French and then repeat it in English (ex. "Jacob, viens ici. Jacob, come here."). Do you think that would be confusing to him?
     
  30. Cupcake*Muffin
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    by Cupcake*Muffin » Jan 21, 2011
    Diva Rose--there is a difference in accents and pronunciation. Mandarin Chinese with a Mainland Chinese accent will be something comparable to British English. Whereas Taiwanese accented Chinese is more like "American English". However, I will say that I do not have Taiwanese accent so I tend to sound like I'm from Beijing but with less "roll" in my pronunciation. When I am in China most people think I'm from Bejing. When I'm in Taiwan most people cannot tell the difference.

    As for the Rosetta Stone, they try to teach you in more of a Bejing accent so it's neutral--but they do sound more proper. I think I would have to listen to more of it to decide but as of right now, I think it's probably one of the better programs out there.
     

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