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toddler learning 2 or more languages

  1. #9
    afessler is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Hong Kong

    We are raising my daughter (age 2) to be trilingual -- English, Italian (spoken to her exclusively by her daddy) and Putonghua. For the latter, we have had Putonghua babysitters come for two to four hours per week every week since she was 10 months old to play with her, because neither me nor my husband speak it. When she turned 2, we started her in the pre-nursery section at KCS (which is only Putonghua).

    It is clear that she understands that different languages are for different people. With respect to her language progress, she has a lot of words but does not put them together yet -- I think that other 2 years old are already speaking sentences. So I guess she is a little behind in that regard. On the other hand, she is developing a vocabulary in three languages, and so I am not worried about it. She seems to understand what people tell her in all three languages, and has adapted well to school.

    So all in all, I am very positive about it.

  2. #10
    Linda&Hanley is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2004
    HK Island

    Hi Buckeroo,
    Linguists use various devices to measure child language development -- the age at which verbal communication commences is just one of them; others include mean length of utterance, size of receptive and productive vocabulary, word types, grammatical accuracy, etc.

    Hi Sumei,
    I think the reading for my coursework is too academic to be of interest to parents looking for practical suggestions, but I’ll keep this in mind and let you know if I find useful materials.

  3. #11
    cemily is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2004
    hong kong

    Dear Afessler,

    I am off a tangent here. I have been looking for good PT mandarin babysitters.

    Any recommendations pls? Or pls point me in the right direction to look for one pls? Tks

    Feel free to pm me instead of posting here if you wish.




  4. #12
    Buckeroo is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Hong Kong

    Thanks, L&H!

  5. #13
    barbwong_130 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Hong Kong

    On this web site is a list of books which might be of interest to you,

    When I was concerned about bringing my children up bilingually I read a book by George Saunders called Bilingual Children: From Birth to Teens.

    It is now quite old (but then so is my eldest) as it was written in 1988. It tells you about how he and his wife brought their children up and the difficulties they faced. He also bought a bit of his research as a Professor of German into the book.

    Usually people say that one parent has to use the first language and the other the second language. But he told of children growing up on the border of Italy and France where they speak both languages and no-one worries which they speak to the children. So the children hear Italian, French and a mixture of the two.

    I found this situation very similar to Hong Kong where children hear English, Cantonese (and these days Mandarin) and a mixture all the time. So I too stopped worrying as much about who spoke what to whom.

    My children all speak both English and Cantonese. Although since they started international school English has been their dominant language. They can also speak Mandarin which they learn at school but it is definitely a third language for them. They are also learning to write Chinese but are not as good as if they’d gone to the local school. And my eldest, who is already at university, seems like she’s forgotten a lot of it because she isn’t using it any more.

    Best wishes,

  6. #14
    Newton is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Hong Kong

    Language is the key to absorbing knowledge and it is very important for children to master good language, no matter it is English or Cantonese, as early as possible to help developing their knowledge acquisition ability.

    While learn both languages shoudn't be a problem for kids, it somehow will defer the proficiency of any one language which is not so good for other learning activities. The only exception may be that the child is exposed to a mixed language environment where he or she constantly interact with native language speakers. If both parents are all speaking *native* English to their kids, the best way to learn another language is to put him to a local school and interact with local Chinese students.

    I think learning putonghua is a bit tricky here since there is no pure putonghua enviroment in Hong Kong. It is possible that the kid might get confused by cantonese and putonghua since they are two very similar language and cantonese is everyday language in HK. I personally do not think it is a good idea.

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