Raising Bilingual Kids (Especially Non-Native) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 03-11-2011, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
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I'd be interested in hearing about your experiences raising a bilingual child- especially if you are a non-native speaker.


I know there are many of us out there, so I get excited when I happen to come across it. It's just motivating to hear others stories because sometimes I get a little "bleh" and I don't feel like speaking the language- but I know I have to keep on pushing and keep on immersing in the language.


So are you raising your child to be bilingual? How about if you are doing it in a language that is not native to you?



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#2 of 9 Old 03-15-2011, 01:26 PM
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You should check out multicultural families. There are a few threads over there about raising multi-lingual children. We are a trilingual household, with me and dh speaking our native languages to kids and we live in a coutry where we use the third language.

Mamma to dd1 3/8/07, one 9.5.08, and dd2 9/9/09
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#3 of 9 Old 03-16-2011, 05:28 PM
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We're also raising our kid(s) trilingually. My husband speaks Finnish to our son, I speak German as a non-native and he learns English from hearing us speak it to each other and the rest of the society.
I have to say that as a non-native speaker of German, he's definitely not getting as rich a vocabulary as he would if I were actually fluent and I know it makes it a lot harder for me to understand him because I don't have a good understanding of what Baby German sounds like, whereas when he speaks English I immediately understand him.


Also, I've noticed that people tend to blame the bizarrest things on raising your kids multilingually. We were at a party with friends a few weeks ago and one of my friends commented how nice it was that my son was letting them interact with them and wasn't crying or freaking out as much as he used to and then asked if it was related to the fact that maybe he was more comfortable with the three languages now? And was like, uh, no, he's just growing up...they seem to forget that while hearing three languages might be weird for him, for him it's perfectly normal and he's never known anything else :P We've also been told that we should maybe just do one or two languages with the rest of our kids so that they learn to communicate earlier and aren't as challenging. Yea, I'm pretty sure our son would still be spirited with just one language!

Mother to one (8/08) with another on the way (04/11)
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#4 of 9 Old 03-19-2011, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks I will check out the multiculutral families section.


Geist, I do sometimes worry that if something goes "wrong" people are going to blame it on me raising him to be bilingual even if that has nothing to do with it. To combat my lack of vocabulary in certain areas, I try to study everyday. But not in a formal sense. I just get as much exposure as possible via books, websites, and movies. I usually hate TV, but the more I watch in the target language, the more I feel comfortable speaking it.



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#5 of 9 Old 11-18-2011, 01:08 PM
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Hi everyone. I'm trying to raise my child bilingually. I speak to him in English and his dad and the community speak Spanish. I feel like MamaWellness: sometimes I don't feel like talking in English or words come out of my mouth in my mother tongue without even realising it! The most difficult thing for me is the "loneliness". I'm the only person who speaks English to him. Any suggestions? I've got lots of books, music, etc and I plan to travel to Ireland as often as possible. But day to day, he's only input and interactions in English will be with me. Any suggestions? I'm trying to find other mothers or families to meet up but so far...

As regards our level in the non-native language, I think it will be fine, we won't cause any traumas to our children and their vocabulary will be ok. Of course it won't be the same as a monolingual of that language, but it will be way better than that of a non-bilingual!

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#6 of 9 Old 11-18-2011, 06:24 PM
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Count me in as part of the group!


I'm an anglophone living in Montreal, which is a primarily francophone city.  We speak English at home, but dd goes to school in French (not French immersion, but along with all the francophone kids).  Dd has been in school for 3+ years (has done pre-K, K, "premiere annee", and is now in deuxieme annee) and is now very comfortably bi-lingual.  Although I moved here many years ago I was cushioned in the large anglo community (I went to an English university and continued on to work as a musician with primarily english-speaking musicians), and still am not totally fluent in French.  I can hold down a conversation, but I don't sound brilliant or anything, lol.


I'm amazed that, even though my dd is only in 2nd grade, I'm already having some trouble helping her with some of her homework.  I'm learning new vocabulary, which is great, and really boning up on my spelling and grammar.  I think this is probably the last year I can skate by without taking some further French lessons.  I'm thinking of hiring a private tutor. 

Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#7 of 9 Old 11-22-2011, 05:33 PM
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Count me in, too! I have a degree in Russian and worked in Russia for several years, and I try to speak to my son in Russian for at least part of every day, though I'm a non-native speaker. We read books in Russian, and I have some Russian kids' music and so on. He's 14 months old now, and I can tell he understands a few things in Russian but he's obviously getting more English, from his dad and his environment. There's not a lot of resources for Russian here in Hawaii, like kids' programs or anything, though I found a few Russian babysitters. If I go back to work, I'm definitely getting a Russian-speaking nanny and I'm in the beginning stages of planning a 6-8 week trip next summer to Russia with him- he'll be almost 2 and I think it will be great reinforcement.

Right now, he doesn't say ANYTHING, except 'dada' sometimes, so of course I worry that I'm delaying his language! But realistically, I think I'm helping him and knowing a second language will be a great help to him in the future. 

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#8 of 9 Old 11-22-2011, 07:07 PM
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Hi!  I'm raising my children bilingual as a non-native speaker:  English is my first language, but I've studied Spanish for years and worked as a medical interpreter pre-children.  I wanted to keep up my Spanish and give my kids the gift of understanding that speaking other languages is fun.  My DS is 3 and speaks Eng and Span about equally well.  DH and I both speak Spanish to him most of the time (but not exclusively), but English with each other.  We've traveled to Spain once with DS.  Things that have been really helpful are story tapes in Spanish and traveling.  I think traveling helps him understand that speaking Spanish is a useful tool for communication, not just a game we play at home.  And the tapes/cds help him hear native speakers.  But, yeah, it's a challenge.  So much vocabulary to learn!  An adult visual dictionary has also been invaluable for things like learning all the parts of various types of construction vehicles in Spanish.  I have a DD, but she's 2 months old.  Not saying much yet! But we are all treating her like a Spanish-speaker, so we'll see what happens.

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#9 of 9 Old 11-29-2011, 05:38 PM
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My DH and I are going to raise our baby bilingual as non native speakers! I'm due in February. We're native English speakers, he's fluent in Spanish, and I need to learn! We're moving from Seattle to San Diego, CA next month, so that will help with her learning Spanish since everything is in English and Spanish down there, being so close to the border. He's going to speak as much Spanish to her as possible so she learns two languages from birth. I really hope he keeps up with that and Spanish becomes the primary language that my daughter communicates with to her father. I think that would be a sweet something that they have together. I really want to learn as well, but I'm not the greatest with languages....

DD Seraphina born at home on 2/21/2012! 

"Childbirth is more admirable than conquest, more amazing than self-defense, and as courageous as either one."
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