I have a daughter who is almost two years old. She is American, since she was born in Indiana, but my wife and I are from South America. She was born while I was enrolled on a master program at Indiana University.

After I got my degree, we moved back to Paraguay (our home country).

My daughter obvious first language is Spanish which is what my wife and I speak at home. I have three questions:

  1. What's the best age to start teaching her a second language?
  2. What's the best method to teach her a second language?
  3. How can I get her to speak in English without an accent?

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asked 16 Oct '09, 13:37

Pablo%20Santa%20Cruz's gravatar image

Pablo Santa Cruz
accept rate: 0%

Young children are crazy-quick learners. I think you'll be very pleased with how easily your daughter picks up additional languages.

(16 Oct '09, 19:15) Dinah

2 is a great age to start introducing a second language. Does your daughter have any opportunity to interact with other English-speaking kids? Do you have the option (or inclination) to send her to an English-language day care or school? Children have the most success with a second language if they get it from their peers. She can still be very successful without that, of course, but it will take more effort on your part.

I lived in a household for a year in which there were twin 3-year olds who spoke French natively with their parents, but went to an English speaking school. They had a lot of success initially introducing the English with television and movies. I don't know how you feel about "screen time" but letting her watch some of her favorite tv shows/movies IN ENGLISH will help her become more familiar with the rhythms and sounds of the language.

At 2 years old you won't really be able to "teach" her a second language - what you're trying to do at that age is expose her to spoken English as much as you can, and create situations for her in which she has motivation to USE that English. So, again, if she is around English-speaking kids, the hope is that she wants to interact with them and that motivates her to try. Along those same lines, there's nothing that YOU can do to prevent her from speaking English with an accent. That will come eventually from her. As she attempts to assimilate with other English-speakers, she'll recognize the pronunciation differences and adjust hers to fit in.


answered 16 Oct '09, 14:03

erin's gravatar image

accept rate: 31%

edited 16 Oct '09, 14:16

Thanks a lot Erin for the response. It was very helpful.

Unfortunately, my daughter does not have the opportunity to interact with other English-speaking kids. English-language daycare is not an option either, since we don't have many of those down here.

(16 Oct '09, 14:32) Pablo Santa Cruz

Don't get discouraged! That doesn't mean she won't learn English. For now just focus on exposing her to the sounds of the language. You can work on teaching her songs - ABC's, Twinkle Twinkle, etc to get her used to producing those sounds. Anything call and response is really great. Make that time with her fun and remember to be patient. You'll likely see no signs of anything for a while and then one day she'll have 10-15 words. Good luck!

(16 Oct '09, 17:03) erin

I am dutch(? from Holland) my wife is german. We live in Germany. From the first day our son was born, I speak dutch with him, except when other germans are around, who 'need' to understand what I tell him.

My parents live in Holland, when they come over, they speak Dutch, almost exclusivly, my wife understands almost everything.

Now that Robin start to show that he understands what we tell him, it shows that he does not make a difference if somebody talks in German or Dutch.

My sisters works in a kindergarden, and says that growing up with two native speakers is the best way to learn 2 languages.

As I read your question again, I see that you asked about teaching. I don't teach my son Dutch, I just talk with him. Maybe you could do that too.


answered 17 Oct '09, 14:56

Huibert%20Gill's gravatar image

Huibert Gill
accept rate: 5%

edited 17 Oct '09, 16:54

Here is how we handled our language issue.

I am a native English speaker living in Istanbul, my husband was also speaks English like a native though his mother tongue is Turkish. Our daughter who is 5 now attends a pre-school where English is taught formally.

We too had many thoughts about the language issue, and even though we heard of many children growing up speaking two languages, we were very careful about making the right decisions for ourselves. I agree with Erin that 2 is a good time to start, if you are able to send her to a good play group or nursery where English is the primary language, and you keep reinforcing it.

If it helps, here is how we proceeded, I too favoured the idea of an English speaking pre-school, but when it came down to finding a good pre-school I was rather dissapointed at the quality. We found the pre-schools to be over priced and ambiences not as inviting as local pre schools, most of the children were speakers of other languages, and some were there because the parents wanted the children to be exposed to English from a young age.
After much delibertion we chose a local pre-school that she attended between the ages of 2 and 4. They sang songs in English from time to time, but that was it. We watched English programmes at home and had picture cards. We were able to see our daughter develop rapidly during the 2 years at this pre-school, but not in English. She was incredibly articulate with vocabulary that was considered advanced for her age, she was exposed to some English with us at home, watching English programmes and movies, but in a relaxed manner.

Now at the age of 4, the time had come to change her pre-school and this time we were able to choose a very good pre-school with an international curriculum, and where English was to be taught on a daily basis. I was concerned about how she would handle the English, because here was this child, who had a very good grasp of one language, and suddenly she was back to square one with the English. ( I posted a question on this site too ! ) But the rate at which her English is developing is astounding. We reinforce this by speaking in English at home, and when she is tired we switch to Turkish. She is 5 now and we are seeing her improve in leaps and bounds.

Having shared my experience I can just suggest that you go with what feels natural and right for you taking into consideration your own environs. The accent can change as her grasp on the language improves,as she becomes more exposed, and of course as she grows!

It is very rewarding to hear young children chopping and changing between languages as they try to express themselves. I hope this has been helpful to you!


answered 16 Oct '09, 19:09

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accept rate: 19%

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Asked: 16 Oct '09, 13:37

Seen: 4,135 times

Last updated: 17 Oct '09, 16:54