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.
Nellie: My daughter came home from school with her first "naughty word" in French (caca boudin)! I guess this means she is now officially integrated!
Sept 22, 2017 5:54:43 GMT 9
Nellie: Adam - will watch the video as soon as I can (living circumstances not permitting right now - we are still in temp accommodation and I can't turn on volume) - looking forward to it!
Sept 22, 2017 5:56:44 GMT 9
Mayken: Skyping with grandma last night had to be cancelled due to technological problems - I needed to talk my mom through a Skype update and her phone battery died. :-(
Sept 25, 2017 20:45:42 GMT 9
Joanna: sorry Mayken...this is sad but funny as I'm sure many skype Grandparents have the same woes !(mine..) For us this weekend: potty training has led to great quality time reading and chatting, and some pretty hilarious ml questions
Sept 26, 2017 6:20:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken and Joanna, I can relate! My mother (Grandma) can't seem to get the sound on her computer working so when we Skype, we also have to use the telephone!
Sept 26, 2017 6:36:03 GMT 9
Mayken: Adam, and Joanna, it's good to know we're not alone in this!
Sept 27, 2017 2:46:28 GMT 9
Joanna: Planning a long Christmas minority language visit, so exciting!
Sept 30, 2017 14:46:01 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! Skype is working again on my mom's tablet, meaning we can skype with ml grandma again!
Oct 2, 2017 23:12:24 GMT 9
Mayken: The other day my mom (monolingual ml) called while my daughter and I were out, so Daddy (monolingual ML) answered. My mom was amazed to find out he isn't monolingual ML any more after all, and praised his active ml ability.
Oct 3, 2017 23:28:39 GMT 9
Joanna: For each day my daughter is exposed to other people speaking English (here in France) I put a little star on the calendar...trying to fill it up!
Oct 8, 2017 3:52:17 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice motivating idea, Joanna! And Mayken, thanks for sharing your good news on two fronts!
Oct 9, 2017 7:11:50 GMT 9
Marisa: My daughter won't say number one in Spanish or English, but in German! She loves recognizing the number and saying it out loud... it sounds more like the word 'ice' in English, though, but it's 'eins.' Number 9, however, is 'nueve'. So funny!
Oct 11, 2017 10:33:45 GMT 9
Mayken: My dad's giving Adam's book to his Lithuanian friend's daughter, whose husband is sceptical about their little girl learning German.
Oct 14, 2017 21:10:20 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, thank you for sharing my book! I hope it can be helpful to them!
Oct 16, 2017 15:57:32 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, another bilingual monkey is about to be born near me (one of my colleagues is giving birth tomorrow), so I also got her and her husband a copy of your book... this world needs more bilingual kids!
Oct 18, 2017 0:06:43 GMT 9