Although I mention parents specifically in the title, this isn’t just for parents to respond.

My wife and I are trying to raise our child to be bilingual (English and Portuguese). Currently we’re both speaking a bit of both to our child and when they eventually go to school we’ll speak more Portuguese as they’ll be exposed to English everywhere else.

Is this a good approach or is there something we can do better?

  • pelletbucket@lemm.ee
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    4 days ago

    the hardest part was finding a doctor willing to cut my newborn children’s tongues in half

  • argh_another_username@lemmy.ca
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    14 days ago

    I have a little bit of experience in this. Brazilian living in Quebec. So, my friends almost always spoke in Portuguese with their children, school and TV were in French. After some time, school starts also to teach English and they chose the language of the TV. Now the kids are almost always speaking in English, although the are fluent in Portuguese and, of course, French.

    Now, my wife and I hated the TV in French, so we kept it in English. So, my kids had to deal with three languages from the start. They mixed everything up and we screwed up by saying words in all three languages. We speak mainly Portuguese but we would use words that they learned in other languages in those languages instead of in Portuguese. In the end, my kids mix all three languages in a single sentence, which is weird as hell. They’re slowly separating the languages and we too. Now, every sentence we speak is in a single language. Their friends help in a way, because they also speak French in class but English outside (and Quebec’s government hates that).

    So, if both of you are Portuguese speakers, I’d only speak Portuguese with them and let the TV and school teach English. They’ll know how to keep things separated.

    • irreticent@lemmy.world
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      13 days ago

      Their friends help in a way, because they also speak French in class but English outside (and Quebec’s government hates that).

      I’m not familiar with how the Quebec government works so that sentence made me curious. Why does the govt. hate that?

      • argh_another_username@lemmy.ca
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        12 days ago

        They try everything so people keep speaking in French. They force kids to go to French schools and reduced the places in English schools. They’ve had teachers and monitors forcing kids to speak in French even during recess. Of course it doesn’t work and kids will speak in whatever language they want, mainly English.

        • irreticent@lemmy.world
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          12 days ago

          It’s interesting to hear the steps taken to achieve their goals, but I was more curious about why those are their goals in the first place. Why does the govt. want to force a language on the people when they obviously prefer a different language?

  • ahto@discuss.tchncs.de
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    14 days ago

    Not a parent, but I was raised bilingually in English and German, while growing up in Germany.

    My Dad (almost) always speaks English with me, and my Mom (almost) always speaks German with me, even to this day at age 31. This approach worked well for us and I’m fluent in both languages, but I can imagine an approach where both parents speak both languages could work as well.

    What also really helped me was to consume a lot of media in English, so maybe you could encourage your child to do that as well.

    • governorkeagan@lemdro.idOP
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      14 days ago

      I wasn’t raised bilingual but consuming Portuguese media helped me learn really quickly (just over a year to be at a comfortable conversational level).

      • idiomaddict@feddit.de
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        13 days ago

        Is there a native Portuguese speaker in the child’s life? Otherwise it’s a little dicey, because they’ll inherit your errors, but if you’re really careful about it and flood them with Portuguese language input from native speakers in the form of songs and audiobooks that you can read along with in person, you can still give them a good linguistic foundation.

  • AccountMaker@slrpnk.net
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    13 days ago

    My parents don’t speak English, but I learned it as a kid by watching a lot of Cartoon Network. All the cartoons were in English, no subtitles or dub or anything. Somehow I assimilated the language without any external aid, and then learned the rest when we first got the internet and I started communicating with others via games.

    So, if I had to teach a kid English, I’d just expose them to as much English as possible with plenty of context and encourage them to express themselves in English when they can. This is also a popular method how adults can learn languages, called tprs

    • zaph@sh.itjust.works
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      13 days ago

      Have you received formal training since then? If you told me you’re a native English speaker I’d believe you in an instant.

    • beerclue@lemmy.world
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      13 days ago

      Same. Grew up watching Cartoon Network, HBO and the Discovery Channel with no subs (or dubs, they are not a thing in RO). Then there was music (lyrics) and later on video games and the Internet. It helped not having any OS or software available in my native language. Even to this day I use my phone and computer in English.

      While I did have English classes at school (6th to 12th), the level was rather basic… I also took French for 10 years, and I can barely speak it. Otoh, I didn’t take one Italian class, but I can speak some, and understand almost everything. Again, this is because we had a bunch of Italian TV channels in the early 90s.

  • frightful_hobgoblin
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    14 days ago

    We speak Irish to the kids as much as possible, essentially all the time. Them learning English is a given, a force like gravity.

    We try to get them to read Irish books, watch Irish cartoons, but that can be a struggle with the temptation of English-language ones. Children have their own strong preferences about those things.

    • linearchaos@lemmy.world
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      14 days ago

      When I visited Ireland I was very impressed by the Irish cartoons. Anywhere I went I hardly heard a lick of anything but English, but it was obvious what they were there for and it was very cool thing.

  • Contramuffin@lemmy.world
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    13 days ago

    Former child in a bilingual household. The time that your child spends outside of your home has by far the biggest influence on language fluency. You can have your child speak a language at home, and they would be able to understand it and speak it, but it would be limited - likely conversationally fluent, but not natively fluent.

    If you can find a community for that language and culture that you visit every once a week, it will help reinforce that language. There might be language schools run by people from that culture - it’ll be an easy way to get in touch with other people from that same culture

  • Serinus@lemmy.world
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    14 days ago

    You need to take advantage of code switching, similar to how you’ll use curse words in some contexts, but not in others. Or retail language vs casual.

    They should have some intuitive idea of when to speak Portuguese and when to speak English. If you’re mixing within the same context, that will be difficult.

  • I'm back on my BS 🤪@lemmy.world
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    14 days ago

    I was born and raised in the US. My parents spoke Spanish only. They maybe knew 5 words in English. I grew up learning Spanish fluently at home. Everything else (i.e. school, tv, friends) was in English, so I learned that naturally.

    Downside: I feel like it created 2 personalities. I feel emotions, relate to family and romance, and cook in Spanish. I think logically, conduct business, and have friends in English.

    • Display name@feddit.nu
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      13 days ago

      Oh I do that too and I read somewhere that it’s pretty common to adapt different personalities to each language. I am by far more courageous and bold when have my English personality.

  • Monstera
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    14 days ago

    We are just at the start of things, kiddo is 2 months. we are alse doing pt and en, and live somewhere that speaks en, funilly enough

    I think your plan is not enough, they should be able to anderstand pt, but idk abt talking and reading. We speak only pt with the kid, we also listen to pt music, and plan on íetting access to pt TV/movies later

  • HatchetHaro@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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    13 days ago

    Here in Hong Kong, we have three official languages: English, Cantonese, and Mandarin (okay, two only if you count Canto and Mandarin as one language, in which case dllm), and all three are taught in schools (Mandarin generally up to grade 9, the rest up to grade 12).

    Almost all of us grow up trilingual.

  • Binette
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    13 days ago

    I’m bilingual.

    They just sent me to an English daycare and spoke French with me at home.

    Then I could do the rest on my own.

  • howrar@lemmy.ca
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    13 days ago

    I grew up in a multigenerational home. Grandparents spoke one language, my parents spoke another. Used to play with the neighbours a lot and picked up a third language from them. Then started elementary school and learned a fourth there. It seems to work well to have each person in your life exclusively using one language.

  • hemko@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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    14 days ago

    So we have 3 languages in the family, native languages for me and wife + English as common language. It’s a huge mess and at almost 4yo she’s mixing up languages and a little bit slow on learning to speak in general, but we’ve been told that’s just how it goes

    • booty [he/him]@hexbear.net
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      14 days ago

      i love hearing about this kinda thing, im sure your kid will be glad to have grown up this way once she’s got the hang of it :)

    • BlemboTheThird@lemmy.ca
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      14 days ago

      Yeah this seems common. I had a friend who grew up with parents who alternated between English, Portuguese, Italian, and French, and he told me he wound up not being able to speak at all until he was over 2 years old. It didn’t affect him badly later on, and he always insisted it was worth it

  • Mad_Punda.de@feddit.de
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    14 days ago

    I have a two year old. I speak German, partner speaks French, we speak English to each other (but not the kid), and we live in Sweden, so the kid’s learning Swedish at the daycare.

    So it’s 4 languages (3 that we teach plus English) and the one parent one language approach.

    Kid was a bit slow to start speaking, but now he understands a lot in all 3 languages, learns new words in all 3 all the time, and even picks up a bit of English occasionally. He’s started to distinguish the languages too, depending on who he talks to, but it’s definitely usually still a mix of all languages. When he speaks Swedish to me, I either just reply in German, or I might repeat what he said but in German first. And when he asks for his favorite lullaby in French, I just tell him in can’t do that one. We also have books in the different languages, but we might just use them in either language and describe what’s happening instead of reading it out.

    And I’m told this mixing improves over time, I’m not worried at all. So I would say this approach works really well for us.

    If you mix the languages between both parents, I think (but that’s just my gut feeling), the kid will have an easier time distinguishing the languages later on if you associate some activities with a specific language. Could be a place where you always use one language. Or some books, etc.
    But, I doubt that’s a must. Kids are astonishingly good at learning languages (I’m so jealous).

    • Badly Drawn Unicorn@sopuli.xyz
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      14 days ago

      Same for me but exchange French with Russian.

      I think one thing I feel we should have done different is to tell the kid I don’t understand you if you are not talking my language. All of us know a bit of the other languages, which was super helpful as my wife didn’t have to translate when she talks to our baby about something.

      But the downside over time was that our child after being in daycare would start speaking Swedish to us, and seeing as a toddler doesn’t pronounce words correctly we had a hell of time understanding that as non-native speakers. Lots of frustration in that one. So maybe it would have been better from the start to act as if we understand no Swedish at all.

      Counterpoint, being outside we of course have to understand what others say to us in Swedish, so that might have looked weird for the kid then.

      But what worked so far is that I speak my mother tongue, my wife hers, and our child mostly speaks Swedish since that’s the main language surrounding her. She understands all we say but is not great at speaking either our languages right now.

  • Soku@lemmy.world
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    12 days ago

    My friend is French, his wife Portuguese, they live in England with their two children. When all together, they all speak English with each other. When the kids are with one parent, the speak that language. In the park with father, French. Baking with mother, Portuguese. Bedtime stories are in the language of the parent reading. Kids switch between languages easily and understand what to speak with whom. Effortless trilingual.

    Another friend moved country with her husband and had three kids. Home language was always mother tongue, both my friends had fairly bad English. Everything outside parents is in English for the kids - media, school, anyone outside the household. Again, the switch for the kids is really easy, they are fluent and have no accent in both languages.