Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"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



Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:

$34413

Still Needed:

$40587

Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington


Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

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)

Back to Most Recent Questions