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Subject: Two Languages Simultaneously by One Parent
Question: Hello,

I would be very grateful for your views.

My situation / background is as follows:

Our boy is now 2-years old.

My Swiss wife speaks to him in German (local language).

I have been speaking to him in Arabic since birth.

Since 2-weeks ago, however, I habe been speaking to him simultaneosly in Arabic (my native
language) and English (my strongest language).

By 'simultaneously', I mean I essentially repeat the same sentence twice, once in Arabic and
immediately following in English.

It doesn't come too unnaturally to me and I suspect I've been sucessful (repeating each
sentence twice) two-thirds of the time.

Would you have any opinions on this approach? Might you recommend an alternative?

Thanks very much,

Yours sincerely,


Reply: I agree with Madalena. This sounds very artificial to me, and not at all like normal social interaction. Young children acquire language in a social context, not by explanation or translation.

If you want your son to learn English as well as Arabic (and German), then you need to find a social context where English is appropriate. For example, you would naturally use English when reading and talking about a book in English. Or when you were with other people who speak English to each other.

If you are in a Swiss city, there are likely to be people around who socialise in English. Is there a playgroup he could attend where children and parents speak English?

I would recommend interacting naturally with your son in Arabic, and adding some social events where English is equally natural.


Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      click here to access email
Date: 21-Nov-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Two Languages Simultaneously by One Parent    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (19-Nov-2012)

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