Complicated multilanguage situation - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 12-21-2010, 05:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello all,

this is my first post so I got into the right section. I searched through the forum and did not find any similar situation . 


Well, I'll go directly to the point. Me and my partner speak different native languages. We have a long time distance right now and we talk a lot via skype or when we meet each-other.  Am albanian and she's serbian while we comunicate with each other in italian. My partner has a 2 year old boy D. from her previous marriage. She speak in serbian to D. and he now's starting to speak and express himself, obviously in serbian. 


The point is, as I do not understand and speak serbian (though I think I'm understanding more and more of it along with D.'s speaking progression) it gets me into frustration not being able to be understood by D. especially in crittical situation (and when we are alone) where he's comprension of what am talking is very important  but along with the desire to be able to tell a story, explain something. 

Initially I used italian then I switched into albanian only and now I'm using a mixed approach; the words I now in serbian and the rest in albanian... but that's really tough. Once when we were in a queue D started crying and I could not calm him down then a lady came and she could tell a couple of words in serbian and he stoped crying. 


We are wondering which would be the best approach for me or D. to have.  We suspect that D understands italian though we have not yet a tangible proof of it. 


Hope I was clear enough. 

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#2 of 3 Old 12-21-2010, 11:50 AM
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OK, both of you speak different languages but your common language is Italian. Is her son being raised in a place where Italian is spoken? How exposed is he to Italian? At just 2, if he hears a lot of Italian but isn't speaking it yet, it's likely that he understands a great deal of it but just hasn't started speaking because he is focusing on the language of his primary caregiver.

Do you plan to live together? What will the majority language be where you will be living? If it is Italian and your partner will continue speaking Serbian, does she want you to teach the child Albanian or does she want you to speak Italian to him?

It sounds to me like the easiest option would be for you to continue with the Italian with him, especially if he is living in an Italian-speaking area, and just trust that his Italian will catch up within the next year or two. If she wants him to learn Albanian, then stick with it. Or if you plan to learn Serbian fluently, increase your language studies and keep using as much Serbian as you can. It is a choice that you will have to make together and there are pros and cons to each approach.

Delayed language with bilingual kids is normal, and especially with the language not spoken by the primary caregiver. It is frustrating not to be understood, but kids can learn languages REALLY quickly (like within a matter of months) so just hang in there! Being a two year old is hard, even without any new languages being introduced, so lots of patience is going to be required.

raising my two sunshine children.

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#3 of 3 Old 12-22-2010, 03:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Ciao la mamita, thank you for your answer.

No he is being raised in Serbia and the only italian he listen is to our dialogues. I know that it would be easier if he was in an italian living area and that would not have been a problem for me. 

Yes we plan to live together but we are not yet sure whether it would be italy or somewhere else and yes she would like D to understands albanian and when I speak to him in albanian my partners raises no issue about it. 

What we are just wondering is to find the best natural approach on this language mixture :D whether this mixing would confuse him or retard some way of expressin himself. I am not aware of patience but would like to invest that patience in the best approach :)

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