Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Raising a multi-lingual child

I read some very interesting posts about bringing up children with more than one language at Don´t eat my Buchela and wanted to share my 2 cents about it.

My husband and I are multilingual. I speak Spanish, Swedish and English and my dear hubby speaks Moroccan Arabic, Spanish, French and Swedish. Long before we had kids we decided we would give them all our cultures and languages so when oldest son, B, was born I spoke to him in Spanish only and hubby in Moroccan Arabic. My parents spoke Swedish with him. We did the the same with youngest son, G,when he arrived 2 years later. I was a SAHM for 4 years so B was 4 years old when he started nursery school and G was 2. Until then they had mostly comunicated in Spanish. It took them a few months to switch to using Swedish at school and Spanish at home. My hubby worked long hours so he didn´t get to spend so much time with the boys and therefor their Moroccan arabic was almost non existing, but they understod a few words here and there.

By the time the boys started school (at age 5 and 6) in Sweden they spoke better Swedish than Spanish but still used only Spanish with me and Spanish most of the time with their dad. When we moved to Morocco, in June 2005, the boys were almost 6 and almost 8. Their Moroccan Arabic was a disaster but their Spanish was still acceptable. They go to a Spanish school and they play most of the time in Spanish. Their Spanish is now just as good as that of any other Spanish child, born and raised in Spain or maybe even better. Their Moroccan Arabic is getting better and they also study Classic Arabic one hour a day. Their Swedish is still more than okey, almost like a kid in Sweden, in spite of not using it at all here. They read quite a lot in Swedish and watch Swedish movies and of course, they chat with their grandparents in Sweden. So my children use 4 languages on a regular basis. And on top of that they study English and French at school and watch TV in Portuguese and German as well. Yup, lots of languages!!! *lol*


Yemi said...

Holy Cow! Four languages. That is fantastic. Aside the obvious advantages of learning many languages (more opportunities), it is also really good for their brains.

I hope my son learns Chinese, Amharic, and English.

Good for you on your persistence towards helping your kids learn these languages.

Nena said...

You have obviously been doing a great job with teching your children all these languages! I will be more than happy if we succeed with teaching our kid swedish and morroccan...
I have to remind his dad not to speak in swedish all the time. Already.

Mayogi said...

Hi Yemi!

I'm sure your son will learn Chinese, Amharic and English, you just have to be a bit stubborn and speak to him in Amharic all the time. By the way, are Amharic and Tigrinya two totally different languages? I like the way written Amharic looks, it's so different from the Latin alfabet. *lol*

Nena. Great to see you here!!!! I'm sure your A will learn both Swedish and Moroccan. You have to keep on reminding H to speak Moroccan with A. Then when A gets a bit older you can always come and visit me and I will take A to play with other Moroccan kids. *lol*