Raising polyglot children.

lizkat

Elite Member
Site Donor
Posts
2,673
Reaction score
6,065
Multilingual households of my family and friends usually produced kids fluent in both from the get-go, but they became attuned to speaking English outside the home unless in a venue where the other language was understood. Children spoke the preferred language of guests in the house at a given time or else replied in the language used in addressing them. It was their mothers who were proficiently bilingual to begin with, so already used to switching back and forth depending on circumstances.

Once in awhile the dads might have felt left out of some conversations but not for long. If it's your mother-in-law talking and you don't get it, your wife will enlighten you before you pay too high a price anyway, no?

Homework assistance was done in English (unless it was about formal instruction in the second language of that family in which case the moms usually oversaw it). As far as I could tell though, disciplinary measures were meted out in native language of whichever parent decided to give it a go at the time. In the kitchen when it wasn't about pizza etc., then the language used was perhaps more often the one with the spicier cuisine.
 

P_X

Elite Member
Site Donor
Posts
1,802
Reaction score
3,245
Multilingual households of my family and friends usually produced kids fluent in both from the get-go, but they became attuned to speaking English outside the home unless in a venue where the other language was understood. Children spoke the preferred language of guests in the house at a given time or else replied in the language used in addressing them. It was their mothers who were proficiently bilingual to begin with, so already used to switching back and forth depending on circumstances.

Once in awhile the dads might have felt left out of some conversations but not for long. If it's your mother-in-law talking and you don't get it, your wife will enlighten you before you pay too high a price anyway, no?

Homework assistance was done in English (unless it was about formal instruction in the second language of that family in which case the moms usually oversaw it). As far as I could tell though, disciplinary measures were meted out in native language of whichever parent decided to give it a go at the time. In the kitchen when it wasn't about pizza etc., then the language used was perhaps more often the one with the spicier cuisine.
Is there cuisine less spicy than the English one?:D
Just wondering:D
 

lizkat

Elite Member
Site Donor
Posts
2,673
Reaction score
6,065
Is there cuisine less spicy than the English one?:D
Just wondering:D

Hah, yeah. Maybe at breakfast time then an English (if not American) breakfast could win out? Congee may be comfort food but it's probably not what the kids are going to fight for unless some side dishes are also on the menu.

(Second languages in my family have been Chinese, and Mexican Spanish)
 

Gutwrench

Site Champ
Posts
449
Reaction score
608
In my experience if both parents don‘t speak the secondary language it will be an uphill battle to get the kid to be fluent...but there’s nothing wrong with that. The kid’s personality will play a big role in how fluent they actually become.

I’m not sure how to make it a completely natural process. Learning a primary language requires work and study. We sent our daughter to (the secondary) language school on Saturdays.

I’m not sure being trilingual qualifies as a polyglot. A former colleague speaks six so I’d consider her one. She grew up in Switzerland and married a Fin and they lived in many countries over the years. They are a wonderful family and highly intelligent as one who speaks multiple languages would assumed to be.

Good luck with your children.
 
Last edited:

P_X

Elite Member
Site Donor
Posts
1,802
Reaction score
3,245
I’m not sure being trilingual qualifies as a polyglot.
It does, especially if those 3 languages are learnt before age 6. What typically happens after that age is that the new language gets packed into secondary language centers in the brain that form less efficient networks and thus require more effort to use. Like an ARM Mac running rosetta:)
 

DT

Elite Member
Posts
1,213
Reaction score
2,307
fc927d35e778db79e6ca523b329772cb.gif
 

Alli

Elite Member
Staff member
Site Donor
Posts
2,503
Reaction score
4,670
The biggest trick is to have peers that speak the target language. Parents will never be as motivating as their buddies.
Although I learned a lot of Yiddish as a small child just because I was nosey. I had to know what Nana and Great Grandma were talking about. And that knowledge got me an A years later when I decided to take German as an elective in college.
Someone stole your tongue?:) BTW, where I'm from you can't get into a good university without knowing 3 languages. But that's also because nobody will learn our language:D
Before moving to the south, I worked for a French pharmaceutical company in NY/NJ. The US office was the only one with monolingual employees. They hired me on the spot only because I was not!
I suck at English and it’s my mother tongue.
You and my husband. He speaks Alabamian. Poor dear.
 

lizkat

Elite Member
Site Donor
Posts
2,673
Reaction score
6,065
And you shouldn't even dream of a PhD without speaking fluent Assembly!:D

Those were the days... there was once a wonderful and mighty little shareware text processor called McSink that ran in 20k and launched in less than half a second that was definitely coded in an assembly language. Plenty people used that to port code for apps from PCs to Macs... and shed a tear when that thing was acquired, sidelined after Mac System 8 or so... and thus subsumed by some component of the bloatware word processing industry.

You and my husband. He speaks Alabamian. Poor dear.

My bro swears you haven't lived until you've taken a seat in a Louisiana truck stop diner, been handed a menu and offered a glass of water by the waitress. "Not sure what all I had got myself into there really when she started talking."
 

lizkat

Elite Member
Site Donor
Posts
2,673
Reaction score
6,065
@Alli Hahaha, I read that as Albanian

Proprietor of our former general store used to warn people getting rowdy with their language in the store --she would evict you for dropping an F-bomb -- that despite her English sounding married name, she herself was half Irish, one quarter Italian and one quarter Albanian: "I hold the spirits of all my ancestors close and we are as volatile as an aging quarter stick of dynamite."
 

DT

Elite Member
Posts
1,213
Reaction score
2,307
Proprietor of our former general store used to warn people getting rowdy with their language in the store --she would evict you for dropping an F-bomb -- that despite her English sounding married name, she herself was half Irish, one quarter Italian and one quarter Albanian: "I hold the spirits of all my ancestors close and we are as volatile as an aging quarter stick of dynamite."

I've got a mix of Irish and Native American ... I'll let you speculate on my personality :D

Weirdly, some "friends" of ours, moved to Albania (Tirana specifically) recently, and when I say, weirdly, it was just a __bizarre__ situation.
 

Zoidberg

Thread Starter
Power User
Posts
194
Reaction score
443
It does, especially if those 3 languages are learnt before age 6. What typically happens after that age is that the new language gets packed into secondary language centers in the brain that form less efficient networks and thus require more effort to use. Like an ARM Mac running rosetta:)
Perfect (and apt, given where we all come from!) analogy. Even when I’m exhausted, my French and Spanish stay the same, they run natively in my brain. If I’m tired, however, my English quickly gets slow and hesitant. I also need to actively pay attention when I listen to a song, or I won’t process the lyrics. On the upside, it’s easier to tune out background noise.
 

lizkat

Elite Member
Site Donor
Posts
2,673
Reaction score
6,065
I've got a mix of Irish and Native American ... I'll let you speculate on my personality :D

Weirdly, some "friends" of ours, moved to Albania (Tirana specifically) recently, and when I say, weirdly, it was just a __bizarre__ situation.

Can't decide if your having prefaced that by 'weirdly...' or the fact you put the word 'friends' in quotes is more intriguing.

Should we even ask about how the situation was bizarre? Possibly not.... ?!
 
Top Bottom