So me and my husband are both Brazilians and we live in the US, where our son was born. He just turned 2. We only speak to him in Portuguese at home. (And so does the nanny, who is also Brazilian. We both have full-time jobs.) He goes to English-speaking activities everyday (like school 2 mornings a week, music fun class, nature day, things like that...). But I've been reading about actually introducing a third language before the age of 3 and was wondering if you have any experience with that, or any recommendations.
There is a Spanish immersion class near our house, which offers 3 mornings a week of classes (just like a normal half-day 2-year-old class, but all in Spanish). I'm thinking if this is OK, if it's enough, if putting him in English-speaking classes the other 2 mornings would be too much for him...
Please let me know if you have any ideas and advice.
Hi Lidia, I was really worried about this with my daughter, who is now 2 1/2. However, we had no choice (or didn't feel we had a choice) because I am a native English speaker, my husband a native French speaker, and we have lived in a Spanish-speaking country for the last 2 years where there is no English or French full-time daycare available.
We do OPOL at home and my daughter attends part-time creche in Spanish - the rest of the day she is with a French babysitter,
What I can say is that after two years, I now believe that the experience has been very enriching for her. She now speaks EXCELLENT Spanish, I would say at the level of a ''normal' Spanish speaker her age, and she understands (almost) everything in English and French. She doesn't talk much in either of these languages, but she certainly understands and I can see it improving day by day. I'm confident that in an English or French environment, she will quickly start speaking.
Funnily enough, we are now preparing to move back to France and my main concern has shifted to...how to maintain her Spanish! So from being worried after 3 languages being too much, I am now a convert.
The fact that Spanish and Portuguese are so similar does of course mean that your son may mix up languages (my daughter mixes up French and Spanish), but that will be temporary no doubt!
Lidia, as Nellie suggests, I don't think adding the third language would be "too much," particularly for the circumstances you describe. If you feel your efforts to nurture his Portuguese and English are going reasonably well, then the chance to begin providing exposure to Spanish, too, sounds like a very positive opportunity. Of course, your son is only two, so his acquisition of the three languages will take another few years and might seem "messy" (early on, he may mix the languages to some degree). But with time and patience, I expect he will gain good ability in all three and learn to distinguish their use by domain (Portuguese at home, English at one school and in society, Spanish at the other school).
Best of luck and I look forward to hearing happy trilingual news as time goes by!
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the popular non-fiction book Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability amzn.to/22XKuCt and the humorous novel How I Lost My Ear amzn.to/2EsjVRS, both available worldwide.
Just to let you know of another happy trilingual experience. I brought up my daughters as trilingual from birth out of choice (unlike Nellie) and now that my eldest (4) speaks all 3 languages and my youngest (1) starts to babble in those same 3 languages, I'm happy to have done so (in spite of my many moments of doubts throughout the process). I confirm the language mixing but that would also happen with only just 2 languages. It will disappear over time.
***"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Oscar Wilde***
Thank you all so much for your replies. It is definitely a relief to find people who are on the same journey and have been having success. Here in the US being bilingual is already rare, imagine trilingual. Everyone thinks I'm crazy, of course.
I know it's gonna be messy in the beginning, but worth it at the end.
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Wojtek: I found sample Eiken tests on grade 5 and 4 (There was Adam's article) and did the first part with my daughter (20 questions). On Grade 5 she did 16 of 20 correctly and on grade 4: 12 of 20. Not so bad though. She failed those where grammar was included.
Feb 15, 2018 20:43:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, your daughter is still very young so I would say those are really positive results! Your efforts are clearly producing a lot of progress. Good for you, and good for your daughter!
Feb 16, 2018 7:52:23 GMT 9
Undraa: A big congrats from my end to you for your new book Adam!
Feb 16, 2018 16:50:56 GMT 9
Wojtek: Big thanks, Adam. Those tests on grade 5 are so basic but anyway they prove that my girl understands them and knows the answers. That was quite interesting experience.
Feb 16, 2018 16:54:32 GMT 9
Wojtek: Congratulations on your book, Adam! I read the beginning on Amazon and as always I have the impression you took several pages from the dictionary with a range of sophisticated words and just put them in. That's why the book will be very valuable for me.
Feb 16, 2018 17:01:19 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, thanks! Even if you're unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary, I think the lively story will carry you through the book. I hope you enjoy it, and also find it useful for your English!
Feb 16, 2018 18:43:12 GMT 9
Dani: Hi everyone, It has been a while... Congrats on your new book Adam! Would love to get a copy too.
Feb 17, 2018 8:30:36 GMT 9
Mayken: Adam, your guest poster sounds just as crazy as you - and I mean that as a compliment!
Feb 21, 2018 5:13:52 GMT 9
Adam Beck: You're right, Mayken! And I told him that!
Feb 21, 2018 6:25:52 GMT 9
Amy: I totally agree with you Mayken!
Feb 22, 2018 1:50:25 GMT 9
Kristin T.: Just bought your bilingual book off amazon, can't wait to search for more tips and inspiration!
Feb 26, 2018 4:05:20 GMT 9
Wojtek: I've just ordered k12 pre-k program for the next whole year. Probably will be very demanding but hopefully, it will give me and my daughter lots of fun as there are lots of online activities too...
Feb 26, 2018 4:10:20 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Kristin, I hope you find it helpful and encouraging! I look forward to your impressions!
Feb 26, 2018 5:12:34 GMT 9
Mayken: Last night I dreamed I was on a package tour in a Russian-speaking country, talking to a hotel employee mixing up my (little remaining) Russian and my (basic) Italian. Woke up thinking "квартира in Russian doesn't mean the same as camera in Italian"!
Mar 2, 2018 6:16:20 GMT 9