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Irene79
10-03-2004, 06:19
Hi Guys!
I'm just wondering about one thing here and would like to ask your opinion and share the experience if somebody had or have the same situation here.
The thing is my husband is German and I'm Russian and the trick is I don't speak German, my husband hardly speaks any Russian and we both gonna live in Moscow in the not too distant future. Obviously we speak English to each other. And its been working fine so far as we currently live in New York and have English-speaking friends, but I have no idea how moving to Russia may effect our family in terms of communication. I mean one day we going to get a baby... I'm going to speak Russian with my child and my husband obviously going to speak German. It's just a natural thing as you can better express yourself in your mother tongue and no matter how well you speak another language. Me and my husband as I said speak English between us and child will be growing in mostly Russian environment. So... it comes to the point that my poor child will have to speak 3 languages to communicate successfully with us & society. And this thought just drives me crazy ! Just imagine this ! Of course I'm going to learn German & my husband - Russian. But just think how long it's going to take as the older you are the more difficult it gets !
I only hope that my child will be happy to be able to speak 3 languages without torturing him or herself (those who tried to study another language would understand ) But this is the question : Will he be happy or it's gonna be just a punishment for all of us.:nut:

kniga
10-03-2004, 06:27
Irene79,

Don't worry about your child/children growing up speaking three languages. Children absorb multiple languages quite readily and think nothing of it. They simply instinctively speak the correct language to the appropriate person. I have known a good number of trilingual children and they all grew up healthy and unaffected by their linguistic circumstances. It is a great privilege for a child to learn more than one language from birth because, as you so correctly note, acquisition of another language becomes much more difficult after about the age of 12. So, relax and enjoy your new environment, but do get serious about learning Russian as best you can, as it will make your life here easier, more interesting and open up the whole world of the very different Russian culture to you.

ghost 6-3
10-03-2004, 10:30
Three languages is considered by Physcolinguists (Steven Pinker, in particular), to be the most a child can master without losses.

Obviously, it will take longer for your child to acquire the languages (he will have to learn three words for cup, dog, etc) and acquire the grammar, but it will happen.

My son (also on his way to trilingual) attended the US Embassy preschool with two trilingual children. One was held back for one semester while his English came up to snuff (his other languages were Russian and Turkish). The other little girl was advanced immediately (mostly due to her mother's insistance), but she never really said anything until well into her second year. I met her at a birthday party several months ago, and she was speaking fluently and charmingly in both English and Russian (though I don't know how her French is).

I think the language structure (SOV, VSO, etc) may effect the speed at which the child will master the languages. But he will.

There is a bit of a problem (as I am now finding out) when it comes to teaching reading. Usually good phoneme awareness programs (the only ones universally recognized as successful), depend on children being able to sound out words they know. Obviously, initially, the child's vocabulary in any one language will be less than that of a monolingual child. This does slow me down as I teach reading, as I also must spend more time explaining the words he is learning to read (he can't know if he is pronouncing it correctly if he doesn't know the word).

Ledka
10-03-2004, 11:26
"Bringing up children to be bilingual is an important decision. It will affect their identity, social arrangements, schooling, employment, marriage, area of residence, travel and thinking. Becoming bilingual is more than owning two languages. Bilingualism has educational, social, economic, cultural and political consequences."
(from "A Parents' and Teachers' Guide to Bilingualism" by Colin Baker)

"The two languages of the bilingual child are interdependent. They do not compete for limited space and resources. Bilingualism is good for children of all backgrounds. When bilingual children are compared with monolingual children on different kinds of skills, bilingual children are usually superior."
(Dr. Amado Padilla, School of Education, Stanford University).

"A bilingual child has a higher level of mental flexibility and is more original. He or she will be more divergent with his or her thinking and will always have two or three solutions for a problem. It has been proven that bilingual children demonstrate a higher level of academic performance amongst students. They surpass or at least are equal to the monolingual students and no negative effects are found in bilingualism. Students will perform better than monolingual students by the time they reach 4th to 6th grade. It is very important that parents realize that it takes time and hard work to become bilingual and the full benefits will show especially starting at the 4th grade level. Bilingualism promotes the development of multiple perspectives about people and about cultures."
(Dr. Duarte Silva, School of Education, Stanford University).

have a look at www.bonne-int.com. This is a web-site devoted to children's bilinguism. Have a look at the Russian part.

ghost 6-3
10-03-2004, 13:05
Took at look at www.bonne-int.com.

Drivel. Mindless, contradictory drivel. Articles lifted from Business Week etc., all intended to make them look like they've done their homework. Inane presentation by Dr Peter K.Kornakov which would never be published in a peer reviewed journal.

They even recommend having the child hear all languages (up to four!!!!!! :confused: :mad: ) 'frequently and in a variety of circumstances'. Language acquisition as a function of time (exposure) not discussed. Four languages???!!!!! Are children social experiments?

Scary. Sounds like a bunch of Humanities Majors run amok.

Jet
10-03-2004, 13:28
Agree with Kniga, he knows what he is talking about, had specialized training in languages in the Army ;)

Lexis
10-03-2004, 23:09
I moved to moscow over a year ago, from Amsterdam. I am native Dutch and my wife native Russian. We communicate in English.
We decided to raise our child (not born yet though ;)) bi-lingual. (Russian-Dutch). For me it is very important to be able to teach my child in the language that I know best, and in which I can express myself best. The same goes for my wife.
Also not much of a choice. I do study russian, but it will take quite some years to reach a level that is in any way good enough to raise a child ;-)

Sadie
10-03-2004, 23:31
Poor child..
How about studying German yourself? I believe it's not that diff as you already speak English quite well and live with a native speaker.
But frankly, Irene, don't u think it's weird that you two gonna speak to ur kid in English?? I do not doubt he/she will almost be born widely educated, but, blin, I can think of so many embarrassing situations when you or ur hubby will feel very much uncomforable with the kid. Anyway, teach yours Russian!!

SunnyBunny
12-03-2004, 10:00
She is Syrian and speaks Arabic to her 2.5yo son, her husband is from Norway and speaks Norwegen to him and they communicate in English with each other. They live in Canada now and her son goes to an English speaking preschool.
My friend says that he is a bit confused and at 2.5 he speaks mostly Arabic and now that he is in preschool he is starting to say English words and phrases. understands more Norwegean than he can speak.

Irene79
14-03-2004, 20:18
Originally posted by Lexis
I moved to moscow over a year ago, from Amsterdam. I am native Dutch and my wife native Russian. We communicate in English.
We decided to raise our child (not born yet though ;)) bi-lingual. (Russian-Dutch). For me it is very important to be able to teach my child in the language that I know best, and in which I can express myself best. The same goes for my wife.
Also not much of a choice. I do study russian, but it will take quite some years to reach a level that is in any way good enough to raise a child ;-)

Hi Lexis,

If you decided to raise you child bilingual what language are you going to speak between three of you ? As I understand you have the same situation as we with my husband do. (He doesn‘t speak Russian, I don’t speak German and we communicate in English)
That's wonderful you want our child speak Dutch ! Of course I wouldn’t want my husband ask me to translate HIS child what he just said and vice versa. That's why I don't see other way rather than teaching my child English either.

Regards,
Irina

Irene79
14-03-2004, 20:36
Originally posted by Sadie
Poor child..
How about studying German yourself? I believe it's not that diff as you already speak English quite well and live with a native speaker.
But frankly, Irene, don't u think it's weird that you two gonna speak to ur kid in English?? I do not doubt he/she will almost be born widely educated, but, blin, I can think of so many embarrassing situations when you or ur hubby will feel very much uncomforable with the kid. Anyway, teach yours Russian!!

Hello, Sadie,

Thanks for cheering me up. Just little advise, before you actually answer please read the original message more carefully. I am going to take up German course as well as my husband gonna learn Russian but it's gonna take a while until you reach the certain level to communicate with your child in foreign language. And, honestly, I don't think my child going to be as you phrased it "widely educated". On the contrary, I'm sure It's gonna be very talented child grateful for being able to speak three languages. Nobody said it's gonna be easy, but we don't want easy, life is not that exciting if everything is too easy. And I'm wondering what do you mean by "embarrassing situations" ?
All parents have these "situations". It's just a essential part of being a parent. I guess I can live with that. And I'm sure those who's been a parent will understand. As far as other silly people are concerned I don't give a **** what they think.

Irene79
14-03-2004, 20:52
Originally posted by ReturnOfBroadmoor
A fine resource for improving kids' multilingual literary skills:

http://www.notam02.no/~hcholm/altlang/stat.html

I don't think It can help a child to improve his/her ANY skills. But that's really funny ! I gonna recommend this site to some of my American friends studying Russian. You know like sometimes when you are not fluent, native speaker trying to play a trick on you making you say one of those bad expressions pretending it just a regular every-day thing. And you, naive foreigner gratefully repeat it trying to empress people by your outstanding skills.
So I hope that can help some people avoid being a fool ! :)

Irene79
14-03-2004, 21:04
Hi Kniga,

Thanks a lot! You made me feel so much better ! I'll keep you posted how it's going when I get a child (hope soon) :)
By the way I'm Russian. That's great to realize you speak (or write would more applicable) good enough that even native speaker don't recognize it, that was the main reason I went to US - to become fluent (University didn't help much ). So my job's done here and time to go home and set another goal - German.

Best wishes

kniga
14-03-2004, 21:19
Irene79,

Your written English is excellent! I should have addressed the remark about learning Russian to your husband. Good luck with the German!

Lexis
14-03-2004, 21:28
Originally posted by Irene79
Hi Lexis,

If you decided to raise you child bilingual what language are you going to speak between three of you ? As I understand you have the same situation as we with my husband do. Regards,
Irina

Hi Irene,

My wife already had a son before we met, he is 9 years old now.
He is now learning English but that it no where near a level to really communicate, techniqualy speaking. But we get along fine. I study my russian, he his English and we will eventualy will get there.
It does mean that conversations between him and his mom and the ones between me and his mom are not understood by either him or me. Till now that never gave any problems.
Ofcourse this is not ideal, but with this experience, and the knowledge that our languageskills will improve I am not worried at all about the so called "3rd language".
I also think you cannot plan everything in advance that much, things like this also come with practice so to speak. And besides, the whole 3rd person issue is not due for at least 2 or 3 years, so quite some time left to prepare ;)

Braders
14-03-2004, 22:18
Irene you are a few years away from having to make the decision which language your child is going to learn.

Of course you have to weigh up the options now, Three languages isn't easy for the parents, my brother and his wife are English and live in Tenerife, their child learns English & Spanish which apparently between the ages of 2-6 is crucial for that child to become absolutely Bi-lingual in both languages.

Choose the language that suits you Two which will probably be English me thinks and then when you come to Russia your child should learn Russian along with English, and your husband should learn Russian of course