Bilingual baby: how is it done?

Discussion in 'Baby Club' started by MissMuffet, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. MissMuffet

    MissMuffet Mum of 2

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    Hi! this is following up the thread about bilingual babies, which has got me thinking :thumbup:
    I wonder if anyone can tell me if I'm doing this right: I'm from the uk and hubby is spanish so we would like LO to be bilingual. I speak to LO only in english, even if we are with people who don't understand english. I sometimes think that it might be a bit rude to other people if they don't know what I'm saying, but I don't want Lo to get confused! Is this the way to do it? Hubby and I speak spanish between us, although he does understand english
     
  2. aliss

    aliss Well-Known Member

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    Hi MissMuffet, I did my degree in linguistics, teaching ESL, and child language acquisition.

    Basically, they learn through play, absorbing language, and imitation.

    What you & your husband are doing is just fine (in fact that is what we do, my husband's first language is French, and mine is English). I wouldn't worry what others think - this is the way to teach her.

    Do you live in an English or Spanish community? Basically, the principle of language learning is that when a child has excellent first language skills, the better their second language skills. So if your child's first language should be Spanish, then work on her Spanish moreso. If English is the second language (like it is for my son), then they're in luck because there's so many English books, movies, children's programs, DVDs, songs, video games that help. Again, it's learning through play.

    There's no need to specifically 'teach' at this age (you can introduce things like flashcards at school age), basically just point, talk, introduce, chat, sing. When they get older, you'll want to start helping them with the written language, but again, always focus on language #1, and language #2 should follow nicely
     
  3. OmarsMum

    OmarsMum Well-Known Member
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    We use English & Arabic equally & we mix words from both languages. Our housekeeper (who lives with us) speaks English only, & she spends time with Omar. I use Arabic with Omar most of the time with some simple English. Now he understands both languages equally & uses the easier word from each language to communicate in addition to some baby talk. Exposing him to 2 languages since he was tiny didnt delay his speech or confuse him. I also read books & sing to him in English.
     
  4. aliss

    aliss Well-Known Member

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    This is an important thing too. I notice a lot of people (in general, not here) think that it could confuse them if you introduce different language "too soon" but it's quite the opposite -children have critical language periods where they can learn certain phonemes (ie. notice a French person says "zat" or "dat" instead of "that", or why many English-speaking people can't roll their R's?), so early language introduction really assists with their ability to speak with a more understandable accent :)
     
  5. OmarsMum

    OmarsMum Well-Known Member
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    Thanks hun. I concentrate on Arabic more as it's more difficult than English. But I also use simple English words. Daily communication is in Arabic most of the time at home. Schools here are in English. I started to learn English at the age of 4 years, & it's much easier than Arabic. As we live in a multi cultural country, English is sort of a 1st language for communication although the original language is Arabic.

    He will also learn a third language, but only when he goes to school. I think it will be French (I learned some French at school but forgot most of it :blush:)
     
  6. aliss

    aliss Well-Known Member

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    Do you have a lot of French words in Arabic?

    I always found it funny that I had to separate the Arab students from the Quebec students in my class because they would try and get away with chatting in French :rofl: Although they were mostly from North Africa.

    Sounds like Omar is doing very well, he's a good poster child for how it should be done!! :) I would love to teach in Dubai one day myself but the standards are extremely high (my ESL education degree is no where good enough, they are now demanding PhD's!!). Maybe I'll just visit instead :)
     
  7. MissMuffet

    MissMuffet Mum of 2

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    Thanks so much for the info Aliss! & NMWB78! Her main language will be spanish, she will learn that at nursery school and with her dad, and I guess from hearing me talk to hubby as well. It's good idea about the DVDs, etc. I've already bought a few books and cds with nursery rhymes which I play to her. She's nearly 5 months old, and I think i have hardly said a word to her in spanish, only english! I'm quite proud of myself! :haha:
     
  8. OmarsMum

    OmarsMum Well-Known Member
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    Aww, it would be great. I love it here

    I'm Syrian (Middle East), we use lots of French words in our daily communication, & those words became part of our "Arabic". Arabic is a bit complicated as we dont speak the written language. So speaking Arabic doesnt really mean learning Arabic. You cant write the Arabic we speak which is a mixture of Arabic, French, English & some basic Turkish.

    I'm born here in Dubai, but I still cant understand their spoken Arabic :blush: it's totally different than our Arabic.

    Many of my Arab friends (who speaks arabic at home with their DHs) speak to their kids in English only. It's really sad as they dont understand a word from what we'r saying when we use Arabic, & they'r really finding difficulties to learn Arabic at school :nope:

    English is very easy to learn here through schools & daily communication , but Arabic is not easy & it's a shame for mums to concentrate on the 2nd language only.
     
  9. aliss

    aliss Well-Known Member

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    :rol: Oh that's complicated! I've only spent time in Egypt so the Arabic was somewhat standard. Must be hard to learn, I would love to learn it one day but I'm still struggling with basic French :rofl:
     
  10. OmarsMum

    OmarsMum Well-Known Member
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    loooooooooooool :rofl:

    I also struggled with French, then I decided to "forget it" :haha:

    It's tooooo soft & has lots of different verbs. I love Enlish as it's standard :thumbup:
     

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