Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Multilingual family - should domestic helper speak her native language?|
My baby is 8.5 months old. My husband and I each speak our
native languages to her: he speaks to her in Spanish while I
speak to her in Cantonese. We speak to each other in English,
watch English TV shows and read mostly English books. We live in
Hong Kong, hence the language of the environment is Cantonese and
she will learn English as a subject starting from kindergarten.
However, since both my husband and I work full time, our baby's
primary caregiver is our domestic helper from the Philippines.
She speaks to my baby in English, but her English is not very
good. Her grammar is wrong most of the time, her sentence
structure is awkward and vocabulary limited. I'm not that
worried about my child not learning proper English as she will
pick it up in school. My concern is whether my child's language
development will be hampered by listening and interacting with
someone speaking a badly spoken language all the time - my
helpers spends 7 hours a day with her, while my husband and I
only spend about 2 hours with her a day on weekdays and all day
Should I ask my helper to speak to my baby in her native language
- Tagalog - instead? Would it confuse her even more to switch at
Thank you so much!