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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: Trilingual child, day care suggests teaching English at home
Question: Dear experts,

We live in the US (community language is English). My wife is a
native Chinese speaker and I am a native German speaker. Our
child is 2 years old. She has been in daycare since she was 6
months old. We use OPOL with no English spoken to our child. But
we do usually converse in English between us in front of the child.

Our daycare teacher strongly suggested in a recent conversation
that we should teach her the English words as well. Otherwise our
child would have a high probability of acting out because of a
building frustration due to a lack of communication/language ability.

This does not seem to fit with OPOL or MLAH. It certainly would
also not feel natural to me. Also, if our little one says an English
word my reaction is to acknowledge that it is a proper word in
English and that ''in German it's ...''.

So far I have not given the learning English part much thought.
After all it is the community language and she has 40 hours per
week of scheduled exposure to it. It should come just naturally. If
we get 40 hours per week of German and Chinese, I think we are
lucky.

What are your thoughts?

Reply: Since your child has been exposed to English since being an infant, the normal English
language acquisition process should work for your child while at daycare. In fact, It
sounds like your child is already acquiring English if you're hearing it home.

There will be a stage where the languages are confused, but the normal acquisition
process will work to adjust that out as needed. The adults just need have some
patience.

Just out of curiosity - Is your child actually acting out or is your daycare provider just
worried? It's a question worth asking....
Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
 
Date: 08-Jan-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Trilingual child, day care suggests teaching English at home    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (14-Jan-2013)
  2. Re: Trilingual child, day care suggests teaching English at home    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (08-Jan-2013)

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