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Jul 242014
 

Question

I have a question regarding adding a third language. My husband speaks the majority (community) language, I speak the minority language, and my eldest child will start attending a school where he will gradually become fluent in a neighbouring country’s language. I am fairly fluent in this third language (or at least I used to be–it is very rusty!) and would love to start speaking it with my eldest child. What I am worried about, however, is that my younger child will probably feel left out, as he will have less exposure to the third language, since he will not be hearing it at school. The obvious solutions (enrol the younger child in the same school, spend more time speaking the third language with him…) are not possible or are unrealistic (I work full time). Perhaps I should just let the school teach the third language and stick to my current language (which is also a “family” language and thus much more important to me)? I would be interested in your thoughts.
– W.S

Answer

Dear W.S.

Thank you for your question which is raising a couple of points. Before I can answer fully and thoroughly to your question, I may need some more information from you. I agree, that adding a third language is a great idea. However, I think that mastering the family language is more important, and should be done before you start. Reading your question, I was wondering why you decided to register your eldest child in a school where another language is being used. Is he going to be taught in that language, or is he going to get classes to learn that language? Can your husband speak that language as well? What are your reasons for having your child learn that language? You say that “my current language – which is also a “family” language” and thus much more important tome”. Why do you want to start speaking that third language with your child? All the points you raised in your questions make me feel that this third language is not a necessity in your family life at the moment and that it might add a burden, especially if you work full-time. Spending time on your family languages would sound more realistic at the moment. To be in a position to give you a more exact answer I would very appreciate some more information from you.

Kind regards,
Isabelle

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  2 Responses to “Should I switch to speaking the language my eldest child will learn?”

  1. Could you also please let us know whether your eldest child is already bilingual in the majority language and the language you currently speak to him? If he is, then you could consider speaking the third language when you are on your own with him. You are right in saying that your younger son would feel left out if you were to speak it when he is present, so I wouldn’t introduce the third language into every discussion.

  2. Hi,

    Stick to the family language. They will learn at school and your language will become less and less spoken if you change to the language ofbthe country where you live. I speak spanish to my kids,my husband dutch. We lived in Usa where my daughter added english. We never spoke english at home even when we could,she learnt at the daycare.
    My son was born in Usa and never spoke english till he started daycare. They master the 3 languages.

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