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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: Just to add my agreement to what my colleagues have said. He's old enough to have an opionion, so see what he says. Where are his friends? What does he want? You may also want to discuss to discuss the long term with the school. At some point as he progresses through school he should (a) certainly have the opportunity to do advanced work in German and English, so that he can consolidate and develop his native ability in those languages in a formal context. (b) learn a foreign language. These opportunities do not have to be now, but you certainly don't want to cut off pathways. You need to discuss with the school how he will have the opportunity to do this in the long term. Four languages is not too much. The more languages a person knows the easier it is to learn new ones. Anthea
Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      click here to access email
Date: 21-Nov-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: A Fourth Language?    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (19-Nov-2012)
  2. Re: A Fourth Language?    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (19-Nov-2012)

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