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 book "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability", praised worldwide by parents and experts in the field. Available at Amazon amzn.to/22XKuCt, the global Amazon sites, and other booksellers.
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.
Mayken: My 7-year-old, her ML dad and a ml family are going to the Christmas market at a ml school today - and I can't go with them! (Hope that ML dad's presence doesn't stop the kids from speaking ml together.)
Dec 2, 2017 22:12:04 GMT 9
Amy: I'm sure the language balance is heavily in favour of the ml. Don't you worry Mayken. And it's also good that your daughter sees that the ml exists beyond the Mummy sphere. It will give more weight to the ml to hear from another sphere.
Dec 2, 2017 22:51:42 GMT 9
Mayken: In the end, it was my daughter with ML dad and the other girl with ML mom (but who's fluent in ml). The other girl got tired of ml after a while but my girl chatted with people in ml and bought ml books and a snack, all in ml!
Dec 5, 2017 0:29:57 GMT 9
Amy: Not so bad after all then, Mayken
Dec 5, 2017 6:27:24 GMT 9
Mayken: Not bad at all, I just regret I wasn't there with them.
Dec 6, 2017 6:11:36 GMT 9
Amy: As the French have it Mayken: "ce n'est que partie remise!"
Dec 6, 2017 18:47:06 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter wrote her letter to Santa in the ml this weekend, and we'll send it to Santa's address in the ml country, that way she'll get an ml letter back from him! Last item on her wishlist reads "The second Harry Potter book, and more books."
Dec 11, 2017 23:59:38 GMT 9
Adam Beck: More books is always good!
Dec 12, 2017 8:15:58 GMT 9
Adam Beck: For Christmas: The Most Beautiful Video You Might Ever See About a Bilingual Familybuff.ly/2nI2yrE
Dec 12, 2017 8:16:04 GMT 9