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On Raising a Multilingual Baby

Ok, so before you get the idea that “Amanda thinks she’s so cool trying to raise her daughter to be multilingual…” I’d like to say that I know next to nothing about how to make this work other than what I’ve read, heard, and experienced in small doses as a short-term French-speaking nanny.

Heck, who knows if she’ll even grow up to speak English, Spanish, and French but since Ruben and I know a combination of these languages, we figured – why not try?

That being said, I’d LOVE any tips or suggestions from moms out there who are in the process of raising or have successfully raised a multilingual kiddo! Please, please, please let me know your secrets! I’d hate to go about this in all the wrong ways and end up setting our daughter back in terms of her linguistic development.

While we’re far from being experts on the subject, there are a few things that have produced positive results in our soon-to-be 1-year-old! Her response time to certain phrases and songs in each of our three focal languages has improved considerably since implementing these activities and what’s more, she doesn’t seem confused when we switch languages!

Well, here are some tips from this newbie mom – take ’em or leave ’em! 🙂

  • Find foreign cartoons and music that your kiddo enjoys: I started speaking to Inés in French fairly soon after she was born, mainly focusing on creating rhythmic, upbeat songs that she could enjoy and would respond to with a coo or a smile. She still gets excited when I come into her room singing her wake-up song in French! For playtime during the day, I looked up French children’s song on Spotify that we could dance to and searched extensively on YouTube for cartoons in French that she would pay attention to long enough for her to process the language’s inflection and accent. Ruben and his family have done the same for Spanish – she loves to hear her abuelita sing “Los Pillitos Dicen Pio, Pio, Pio!”
  • Consistently speak your language during one-on-one time: Consistency is key when it comes to really instilling any language into your munchkin’s little grey cells. It’s important to stick to only speaking your language when you’re spending one-on-one playtime with your baby so that they respond to and recognize that language as a way to bond, which will make them process the language that much more fully. What’s more important is that they’ll have an emotional connection to the language because of the positive time you share speaking it together!
  • Decide on a shared language: Since I’m discussing raising a trilingual baby here, most likely you and your partner will each be speaking a different language to your little one, which means that you’ll need to decide on a shared language, which is typically the tongue you communicate in on a daily basis. For Ruben and I, that language is English so we make sure to only speak to Inés in English when we’re both in the room with her. I’ve heard from other trilingual families that this is the best option for maintaining a clear distinction between languages for your baby so that they’re less confused as they grow.

Were you raised speaking different languages in your household?

Are you raising your kiddo to speak multiple languages?

What worked/didn’t work for you? 🙂

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply Kristina September 13, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    so wonderful to give your child this opportunity!
    http://dayinmydreams.com/

    • Amanda
      Reply Amanda September 15, 2015 at 2:35 am

      Thanks, girl! We hope we’re doing all the right things! 🙂

  • Reply Andrea August 23, 2015 at 2:51 am

    I actually learned Greek first and then somehow learned English, and went to a Greek elementary school where the main classes were in English but there was a Greek language class and we learned different things in Greek too. It might be worth it to enroll her in language classes in elementary to hone her skills she learns, because it will be hard to keep up with the grammar for three different languages!! So cool ines will be trilingual! My bf speaks Arabic so if we ever have kids our kids will be trilingual too! Goodluck girl, I look forward to hearing your tips as you experience raising your beautiful daughter! 😀
    Xoxo
    Andrea
    http://www.phdfashionista.com

    • Amanda
      Reply Amanda August 25, 2015 at 2:36 am

      Ooo this is super helpful, Andrea! Thank you! 😀 We’ve registered her for a French language pre-school since she gets so much Spanish with my husband’s parents. Ugh – grammar. Yeah, We’ll definitely need school for those skills! Oh that’s awesome that your boyfriend speaks Arabic and that you grew up speaking Greek! I’m sure you’d make beautiful, trilingual babies! Hehe 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by, girl!

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