I would love to hear ideas and opinions of other parents who are bi-lingual as to how they handle the language issues

My husband and I are English speakers, I am from London, and he is from Istanbul. I have been resident in Istanbul for several years now and once our daughter was born we took the decision to communicate with her solely in Turkish, as we believed this to be more correct at the time.

Our attitude was that she would eventually end up speaking English with us so there was no need to try and enforce both languages from early on. We heard many stories about children picking up many different languages, particulary those in mixed race marriages. But we wanted to focus on one language at a time. I think I can say that it worked, she is very articulate and verbally very advanced in Turkish as compared to her peers. The problem is now she has started to learn English I see the frustation in her. She wants to be able to speak English instantly and having mastered the Turkish language she expects that her English be the same.

Do any other bilingual parents have any suggestions on how to ease the second language in without too much disruption. She is doing well in English at school, but I sense the frustration followed by the laziness when she does not fully understand what we are talking about.

asked 28 Sep '09, 20:46

Emi's gravatar image

accept rate: 19%

edited 28 Sep '09, 22:34

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Scott ♦♦

Well our son is only 7 months old so I can only tell you based on what we've done so far. I speak Spanish and English and his Daddy only speaks English so when I'm home with our son, we do Spanish and when Daddy's home or we're out and about, we do English. I kind of think learning both languages at the same time will lessen the stress of it.

With how old your daughter is, you may just have to stick it out through a little frustration. She is young and she'll get it though! I taught Spanish to Jr. High students and the younger they started learning the easier it was.

Melissa http://www.findsforfamilies.com/2009/08/bilingual-baby.html


answered 28 Sep '09, 21:58

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Melissa H
accept rate: 20%

edited 28 Sep '09, 22:03

Thanks for the link, its a great site, and your comments. I think because we were both working full time, we thought it would be better for her to speak one language properly, (especially since she would be at nursery from the age of 2) rather than knowing two languages less and having difficulties in the nursery enviroment, where no other children had been exposed to English before.

(29 Sep '09, 05:49) Emi

I am American and my wife is German (she's a full-time mom so has a lot of time with the kids). We live in Germany. I speak only English to the kids as well as to my wife when the kids are present, and she speaks only German to the kids as well as to me when the kids are present.

This is pretty hard to do, especially if you have a different habit of speaking to each other, but it really is worth it.

My oldest (4 year-old) switches languages instantly depending on who he talks to, and is quite fluent for his age in both. My 2-year old is having a little harder time picking up German, so we're trying to concentrate on my wife not just responding to an English question in German, but asking our daughter to ask in German.

This has really worked well for us so far and I recommend it.


answered 29 Sep '09, 11:10

epaga's gravatar image

accept rate: 25%

My 5 year old son is Bilingual. Both me and my husband are Iranian. We spoke to him only Farsi most of the time. He learned English when he started Preschool at the age of 3 and is very fluent by now. Now he is going to an International school and learning French and Spanish. It took him just a few weeks to say some short sentences in French and a few words in Spanish. I guess you should do whatever you are doing. In no time she will be master in English as well.


answered 29 Sep '10, 15:56

mom.no.2's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

+1 Thank you for your answer, and you are right she is becoming more fluent in her English everyday, and school plays an important role in this too now.

(29 Sep '10, 19:55) Emi

I know French and English, Mom knows Italian and French.

I speak only English to our daughters, she speaks mostly French. We speak French together.

Delayed starting in a language was never an option for me, from previous experience of trying to 'change language' with someone I knew, it is VERY hard.

The down side (for us), is that language development has been far slower, but I figure the long term gain is worth it.

What I find much harder (living abroad and being in a dual-culture marriage) is all the culture that won't get transmitted with the language.


answered 07 Jan '10, 08:15

Benjol's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

+1 You are very right, about it being much harder being in a dual culture marriage and living abroad. The culture is something that now means more because there is less exposure. (for example Christmas carol singing party at the British Consulate made a bigger impact on my daughter this year than I had expected :)

(07 Jan '10, 08:43) Emi

Yeah, we went to the carol service at the local Anglican church. I'm not sure what my nearly five-year-old made of it, but the main aim for me was for her to realise that Daddy is not the only person who talks English!

(07 Jan '10, 09:28) Benjol
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Asked: 28 Sep '09, 20:46

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Last updated: 29 Sep '10, 15:56