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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: Teaching Multilingual Children
Question: Hello, I was wondering is there a limit to how many children a
toddler can acquire. Currently we have 12 foreign nannies that
speak to our children in their language for a certain period of the
time. My wife and I were wondering if this could be achieved or
would it just confuse our twins?

Reply: Hi,
I believe you want to know how many LANGUAGES a toddler can acquire
(rather than how many CHILDREN...). The answer is a difficult one
as the situation you describe is rather vague. You say 12 foreign
nannies speak to your twins for 'a certain period of time'...What
exactly does that mean? How long is 'a certain period of time'? How
regularly? How old are your 'toddlers'?
Theoretically, there seem to be no limits to the number of
languages a child can acquire...Of course, 12 languages at a time
seems to be somewhat problematic. The problem is that there is a
maxim which says 'Use it or lose it!' I don't imagine your twins
get exactly the same exposure to all 12 languages...which means
they're not going to learn all 12.
According to the literature on bilingual or multilingual language
acquisition in children, they do show a certain lag in learning the
languages compared to monolingual children, but this lag is usually
of short duration and bi/multi-lingual children 'catch up' and even
surpass monolingual children in language ability. On the other
hand, I've never heard of children learning 12 languages at a time!
Reply From: Robert A Papen      click here to access email
 
Date: 25-Jul-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Teaching Multilingual Children    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (25-Jul-2013)

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