Bringing Up Bilingual Babies

Some people say that our lives make more sense if we were to live it backwards. Although I had a Spanish nanny when I was a child my language of preference at school was that of French. I went on three French exchanges, did work experience in a school and am now happily married to a French man.


As we stepped into our family’s home recently, we left my mother tongue back in England and embraced that of my husband’s. Our eldest seemed unphased by this departure and was very eager to stay up late and socialise as is the culture. So as I left hubby and the eldest to it. I retired to the bedroom with the youngest.

During our stay my daughter seemed to understand simple instructions like being asked to pick up a doll from the garden and of course knew what non and chocolat meant. Some of the words in French are very similar to English for they both have their roots in Latin so I imagine that this helps. Of course gestures, body movement and facial expression also add up to some level of understanding too.

So how do we maintain this interaction and break down/erase the language barrier?

To help with the learning of French as well as that of English I've:

  • started collecting some games
  • spoken in French and English
  • considered playgroup/toddler group
  • thought about books / magazines


Have you got experience of raising bilingual/multi lingual children? If so I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Comments

  1. I think having a number of languages is fantastic. My daughter went to French lessons at the age of 2 (my friend was a teacher) and she picked up so much. Although I have not learnt another language since school, I am very keen for my children to learn. Sarah #mg

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    1. Ah that's great that you have a friend that could teach her.

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  2. So interesting to read about bilingual parenting, I'm a second language English Teacher, and my husband is Colombian, so I often wonder what will happen when we have children! A rich life if you ask me, being raised around 2 different languages is wonderful! #marvmondays

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    1. You've got me intrigued to. You'll have to let me know.

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  3. It amazes me how easily very young children can pick up more than one language, I wish I could! For bilingual children in our nursery we communicate everything in English but we encourage the parents to speak their other language at home as much as possible. I'm sure the use of resources like books would be useful too. #kcacols

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  4. We are an english speaking family but I do look after several children from bilingual families and I try to learn a few words to help things along, and I am so impressed with these bright children who can chatter away in and out of different languages, they make me feel quite inadequate at times :)

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    1. Aww lovely to hear that you are trying to help them.

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  5. We are a bilingual household. :) I myself am from Norway. My oldest is born in Norway and lived there for most of his life, he's now 12 so he's very much fluent in both English and Norwegian. My two youngest however don't speak much Norwegian though I suppose it's a little bit my fault. There have been for several months at a time where I have simply not spoken Norwegian enough and our household has turned mostly into English.... but I'm changing that now and they do undertsand most of what I say in Norwegian, but to help us I have downloaded Norwegian apps on the ipad so dayli we have some learning there. I have some books in Norwegian that I read to them and I try to cover both languages when I speak to them. If I see they are unsure I will ask them if they understood and if they didn't I will repeat it and translate explain what the words mean.

    My husband doesn't speak Norwegian though through our 7 years together he has picked up some, but that is very much one of the reason I think why Norwegian tends to be forgotten. I have no Norwegian friends here and no network around me after all...so the only times it comes up is FB, family in Norway and my oldest. For some reason speaking to him in Norwegian comes natural - but speaking to my two youngest who are both born in England and raised in England...it doesn't and I have to remind my self.

    But it will benefit the children so so much growing up knowing both languages.

    #kcacols

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    1. Thank you for sharing with me what has and hasn't worked for you.

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  6. How wonderful for your children to have the experience of both cultures and languages. I'm not bilingual but living in Wales, there are bilingual schools and mum and baby groups. I used to go to a welsh language baby group with my daughter 6yrs ago and found myself singing one of the songs to my baby today, surprised I could remember it. Maybe singing along together to french nursery rhymes could help, especially counting ones or head shoulders knees and toes. #KCACOLS

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    1. What a great idea. Thank you for sharing with me.

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  7. I always wish I'd taken my languages further than GCSE level. I'm trying to introduce my kids to a different language and have started buying a few my first French word book to teach them the basics. #KCACOLS

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    1. They sound good. I will have to have a look at what's available in French.

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  8. I didn't know you were married to a French man...How interesting.
    I don't have any experience of raising bilingual children but my eldest is just about fluent in French. She has done well learning it at school x

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    1. Ah I don't reveal everything at once. Great to hear that your eldest has done well at languages.

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  9. Oh wow, this is sooooo awesome! Bilingual (and multi) have such a HUGE advantage, and I really want to teach my son. The only problem? My husband and I only speak English...
    I bet we'd all benefit learning it together. Thanks for sharing! <3 #KCACOLS

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    1. I'm sure you could learn it together at a playgroup or in a classroom if there's something nearby.

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  10. I would love to know more languages, to grow up bilingual must be amazing! Thanks for linking up with #tuesdaytreasures

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    1. Time will tell whether it's all too much for them or not

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  11. I would love my daughter to be bilingual and perhaps when's she a little older we could encourage her a little more! #TuesdaysTreasures

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  12. My husband and his family speak French and I have basic understanding of it, although would love for myself and our children to speak it fluently too. Things that I've always found quite useful is listening to French radio and watching french tv channels so that I can hear it more conversationally and in an every day context. For the little ones I think music and songs would be a good addition to your list which I think is great too :-) Emily #DreamTeam

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    1. Thanks Emily. I didn't realise you have a French husband too.

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  13. The title of this post really caught my attention - it's similar to my blog strapline (although now my daughter's well into toddlerhood I should probably update it!) and obviously a subject close to my heart. I've been bringing up my daughter to be bilingual in English and Spanish since she was born. We live in Mexico so pretty much everyone around us speaks Spanish and it's the main language of communication in our household, so I speak to her almost exclusively in English, which feels natural to me since it's my native language. And so far it has worked! She understands both languages and speaks a mixture of the two! I'm just writing a post at the moment about this and how she's doing so far. #KCACOLS

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    1. I will have to go and have a read of your blog. Thank you for sharing with me your experience.

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  14. I think you are already doing a great job by speaking in both English and French. We aren't a bilingual household but I wish I had set out to do so (I'm Chinese, my husband is English) I was worried that I would confuse the boys with both English and Chinese and because my husband only speaks English I didn't want to alienate him... guess its too late to start now! They do know a few phrases and they call my parents and my sister the equivalent of nanny, grandad and aunt in chinese so I guess that's something?

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday x

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    1. Why not give it a go and see. I'm sure your parents and sister would be very supportive too and encouraging.

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  15. How interesting. It is amazing just how little ones absorb so much and so quickly isn't it.
    How lovely to be growing up with a french twist too :)

    Thanks so much for joining in with #MMBC. Hope tis ee you next week x

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    1. Little ones are like sponges. In fact it can comes as a surprise sometimes.

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  16. I wish my children were exposed to different languages! The closest we get is the fact I'm American, my husband's from Yorkshire, and I'm in Surrey. My son's accent is all over the place. #kcacols

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    1. I can relate being brought up as an Oxonian with parents from the north of England

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  17. Exposure!! Kids seems to do so well. I knew a family the daughters were 4 (twins) they spoke English at school, German to their Dad and French to their mum! They were amazing. I spent some time in Germany and I keep saying I'm going to start simple games, songs and books with my kids. Then I get distracted lol. Will be following to see how you get on #KCACOLS

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  18. My husband and I are Turkish and I'm adamant that our little man will also learn to speak it, so we try to mainly speak to him in Turkish at home as I figured he'll pick up English at school x #TheList

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    1. That sounds great. Sadly I'm not fluent in French.

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  19. It must be great knowing more than one language, especially if the children pick it up early as I think it's much harder to learn when you get older. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. xo

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    1. So true kids are like sponges. It's all the tenses that confuse me.

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  20. What a wonderful gift to give your children to be bilingual! Those brains soak in so much, so freely and easily. Kudos to you! #FabFridayPost

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    1. I think the kudos should be sent my hubby's way as I'm not fluent.

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  21. My kids have a few languages thrown around them and they have yet more as best friends. They are not fluent in any other than english currently but I hope this will gradually change:)

    Mainy

    #fabfridayposts

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    1. I think just over hearing them will help construct a basis...you never know you may be surprised at how much they've picked up.

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  22. I believe there is so many advantages to being bilingual and I wish I was. I guess living in Australia we are a lot further from other countries where other languages are spoken, but i imagine living in Europe it would be of even more benefit #mg

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    1. English and many other European languages have Latin at their core so it makes things a little easier.

      Do the children in Australia learn things like Japanese?

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  23. If love my children to learn another language as I feel so sad that I don't know one. We are living in Spain for a while and hoping to all learn as much as we can if the language!

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    1. That would be great if you can learn as a family

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  24. As you know I am Thai and my OH is English, but because I have been here since 10 y/o - I have forgotten how to write and speak formal Thai. I found it so hard to speak Thai all the think when in actual fact I think in English all the time. But for some reasons I seem to be able to speak more Thai with my second child (Evelyn) more than my first (Ethan). I just think it is the confidence thing - as my friend said - I have to 'insist'. I now talk more Thai to Ethan than ever before and slowly his is learning a new word each day. :) Thank you so much for your suggestions I think I will give it a try. & Thank you so much for linking up with us too on #FabFridayPost. xx

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    1. Wonderful to hear that you've gained confidence and both children are benefiting from your mother tongue.

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  25. I always think it's a shame that we don't embrace other languages more. I used to have a Greek boyfriend who told me that every Greek can speak English because they learn from the age of 5. How amazing is that! I just had languages as an option in high school but I was useless! Thanks for linking up to #SundayBest x

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    1. Ah our fellow Europeans seem to have it sorted.

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  26. Some great tips here! We don't have bilingual children, my partner and I don't speak any other languages apart from very ropey high school French! Its something I always mean to find to do though, I always feel so ignorant visiting other countries and expecting them to speak my language! Thanks for linking up to #SundayBest, hope to see you again tomorrow x

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    1. Thank you. I've always found languages to be interesting.

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