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: Well, it suited both teams to slow down the ball. However, it was really unexpected and peculiar
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Mayken: On the train from Cologne to my hometown, I saw a boy about 9/10 and his older sister. She was fluent in German but spoke French with a slight accent, he spoke only French. They were visiting their grandparents. I was intrigued but didn't ask.
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Agnese: First words. What to expect? My son is 10 months old. He's still babbling, but I've noticed some different sounds depending on the situation. I wonder if he'll start saying his first words in the next weeks (or months, who knows?). What should I expect?
Jul 11, 2018 0:30:24 GMT 9
Amy: Don't expect anything Agnese. Just let it happen, and then what he says will hit you like a train. It's an amazing moment. Just live it and don't overthink it. Whatever he says, in whatever language it is, it is a magical moment.
Jul 11, 2018 5:11:14 GMT 9
Agnese: I've recently found a further (annoying) challenge: when I speak ml (Italian) to my child (10m) in front of ML acquaintances, they are making jokes about what I said (mostly accent, similar unrelated words...). What do you think is the best way to act?
Jul 15, 2018 13:04:11 GMT 9
Amy: Agnese, it is simply because they never had the opportunity to be acquainted so closely to that language. Just smile and keep going. Over time (even if this may seem long), the comments will fade. Don't show your son you are embarrassed by your ml.
Jul 16, 2018 3:56:41 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Agnese, I strongly second Amy's advice! Stay strong and continue speaking Italian!
Jul 18, 2018 6:22:37 GMT 9
Adam Beck: And Agnese, keep in mind that, above all, the highest priority is your bilingual aim, not the other passing concerns that are part of this experience (for us all). Don't let these distract you from the greater goal.
Jul 18, 2018 6:24:49 GMT 9
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