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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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Subject: A Fourth Language?
Question: My 6-year-old son is growing up trilingual. He speaks German with his German mother, English with his Irish father,
and Dutch at school, which he started aged 4.

Besides Dutch, the school offers one-hour sessions every day in a second language, with a choice of French, Spanish
and English. We were advised to put our child in the English group, because three languages were considered enough
for a child to contend with.

The problem now, however, is twofold. First, my child’s English teacher is from Hungary, and although her English is
good, she speaks it with a clear, non-native accent. Second, my child already has a good grasp of English at age 6,
but sits in an English-learning group with in children who have no English at all. I doubt whether he benefits at all from
these English sessions.

My question is thus:

Would it be better to move my child into either the French or Spanish group, or leave him in his English group? I don't
want to burden him unnecessarily, but I don't want to bore him either.

Any advice appreciated.

Best, Billy Nolan

Reply: There are cases of children learning 4 languages, and I think your son would be in a
good position to do so. I would agree that he probably isn't learning anything new in
his ESL class.

However, I would ask your son first if he has an opinion. He may be bored or he may
enjoy being the expert. The other question of course, is if the English instructor from
Hungary enjoys having a native speaker in her class.

Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
 
Date: 19-Nov-2012
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: A Fourth Language?    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (21-Nov-2012)
  2. Re: A Fourth Language?    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (19-Nov-2012)

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