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How many languages, at what age?


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#1 Dust

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 02:48 PM

I'm not even going to try to make a poll because there would just be too many options. 

 

Would you begin to learn two, maybe three languages at once? And at what age? 

 

 

 

 


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#2 Dust

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 03:01 PM

I'm looking at our third grade year. 

 

At home, we speak mainly English, mixed with Urdu (a language that shares quite a bit with Arabic). He is exposed to Arabic and can read it, and does so in a separate class more than 3 times per week. 

 

I'm considering beginning instruction in Spanish. It would be traditional, conversational Spanish. 

 

But, I also want to work on the Arabic. He's exposed to it a lot, so we wouldn't have to practice so much outside of what he is already doing. We'd do vocab based on what he reads every week and grammar. 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#3 Mabelen

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 03:18 PM

Does Urdu really have so much in common with Arabic other than the script? I thought Urdu was basically the same as Hindi with the exception of the script system. Is your son learning Arabic as a spoken language or only in order to study the Quran? Adding Spanish might depend on what your son thinks. How does he feel about it?
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#4 loesje22000

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:19 PM

Dd started to read in mothertongue (Dutch) at age 3,
Age 5 = adding English
Age 7 = Adding French
Age 9 = adding Latin
Age 11= adding biblical greek (fridged at 14th)
Age 13 = adding German
Dabbled with Hebrew and Spanish during the years, but nothing too serious.

I am not convinced that starting early always gets its fruits.
Motivation and intensity are probably as important.
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#5 madteaparty

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:43 PM

I am not convinced that starting early always gets its fruits.
Motivation and intensity are probably as important.

I'm also of this view. My DD can't fluently read in English yet. I don't plan to start a first foreign language until age 8 or so with her, and only so she's not totally lost when she does immersion at 10 or 11. We only speak English at home, and as such, we've had most return on both time/$ investment from immersion.
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#6 Roadrunner

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 08:19 PM

I think if you have native speakers of those languages at home, early is good. If you are learning primarily from books, I am also not convinced that early is necessary.
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#7 luuknam

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 11:11 PM

I think a lot of it also depends on the child's interest level. 


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#8 Monica_in_Switzerland

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 06:49 AM

I am agreeing with the others that early isn't necessarily better.  Aside from true bilingualism, science is tending to disprove the whole "kids learn languages better" common belief.  I would rather bring a child along quite a bit in one language before adding the next.  

 

For my kids:

English/French bilingual since birth- conversation, reading, writing.  I work hard to keep them at similar levels for all three areas for these two languages.

 

Starting in US 3rd grade, we added German because we were required to by law.  Otherwise, I would have probably put it off until 5th.  Two oldest kids do about 1 hour a day.  Our second child started earlier than our first because it made sense to us to combine them.  

 

Started Latin in US 5th grade.  This is because I think my son just needs a challenge and I want to learn Latin too.  This will not represent a huge portion of our school week this year.  

 

Goals:  Maintain both native languages at similar levels throughout education.  Reach fluency in German (solid B2 level).  Reach "academic fluency" in Latin.


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#9 8FillTheHeart

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 07:23 AM

I am agreeing with the others that early isn't necessarily better.  Aside from true bilingualism, science is tending to disprove the whole "kids learn languages better" common belief.  I would rather bring a child along quite a bit in one language before adding the next.  

 

I agree with this. This has been the case with my kids as well.  

 

My oldest was fluent in Brazilian Portuguese due to immersion.  He even slept walked in Portuguese.   Unfortunately, languages learned as children also require "maintenance."  He has lost it.  I am sure if he re-immersed himself in it that it would come back.  But, at this particular moment, he can't remember much. (ETA: maintaining his Portuguese was not something he was ever interested in doing.  I am sure his sister would have maintained her fluency bc it would have mattered to her.)

 

My 2nd oldest dd started French in elementary school, but it was total dabbling b/c I don't know any French.  She really didn't start making real progress until she was able to self-study rather seriously. I would say that was around 6th or 7th grade.  She is now fluent and can watch French movies while building puzzles and understand everything.  (I take multi-tasking and full comprehension as a sign of fluency.)  She didn't start Russian until 9th grade and made rapid progress and has an excellent accent.  She is definitely not fluent in Russian but she hopes to be by the end of college.

 

She started Latin in 6th grade.  She mastered Latin quickly and it helped her other 2 languages.  

 

She loves languages.  I wouldn't have changed how we approached things at all.  I would not have started any earlier for languages that needed to be studied.  Immersion, otoh, I would be all over if it was something available.  Our ds became fluent quickly and easily at age 7.  Learning the language through playing with friends was definitely an easier and simpler method!!


Edited by 8FillTheHeart, 25 August 2017 - 07:25 AM.

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#10 Renai

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 09:26 AM

I am agreeing with the others that early isn't necessarily better.  Aside from true bilingualism, science is tending to disprove the whole "kids learn languages better" common belief.  

 

:iagree: The reason it was thought children learned better had more to do with how they were learning - immersion vs books. Put an adult and a child side by side, learning the same way, for the same amount of time, the adult fares better long-term because they have more "pegs" to hang the new language on and to make connections with.

 

We are bilingual English/Spanish, reading, speaking, writing. My youngest (6yo) expressed interest in German, so I've had to relearn some things, but limit it to speaking about routine items. I won't even start with reading or writing it until she is older, can read and write well in her two native languages, and still shows interest in it. She also shows an interest in Japanese since her older sister is self-studying it.

 

My oldest (17yo) has expressed interest in different languages in different years, starting in 5th. She's done French (as a dyslexic with poor working memory, the spelling became too much), Italian, German (barely dabbled), and now Japanese. I don't know any French or Italian so couldn't help her. I think that 5th is a good age to formally start, but I really don't know. It was just the age my dd showed interest. :laugh:  In early childhood years, speaking and understanding are more important to me as far as language learning.


Edited by Renai, 25 August 2017 - 09:27 AM.

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#11 Dust

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 11:02 AM

Does Urdu really have so much in common with Arabic other than the script? I thought Urdu was basically the same as Hindi with the exception of the script system. Is your son learning Arabic as a spoken language or only in order to study the Quran? Adding Spanish might depend on what your son thinks. How does he feel about it?

 

It is the same as Hindi, though Urdu might have more borrowed Arabic words.

 

Arabic and Urdu share a lot of nouns. Verbs are quite different. 

 

I want DS to learn Arabic vocabulary and become familiar with some verb patterns so he can understand Qur'an, since we plan to put him in a program for memorizing it next year. 

 

So I suppose, I'm wondering if I should teach Arabic, and let that be our language for now, or if I should start spanish with him too. 

 

But maybe it's more important to only do Arabic now, since there will be more exposure. 


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#12 Dust

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 11:04 AM

Dd started to read in mothertongue (Dutch) at age 3,
Age 5 = adding English
Age 7 = Adding French
Age 9 = adding Latin
Age 11= adding biblical greek (fridged at 14th)
Age 13 = adding German
Dabbled with Hebrew and Spanish during the years, but nothing too serious.

I am not convinced that starting early always gets its fruits.
Motivation and intensity are probably as important.

 

Wow, that's a lot.

 

Does she still study/speak/know English, French, Latin, Biblical Greek, and German?



#13 Dust

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 11:11 AM

So, for Spanish, he is not too interested in learning. And there wouldn't be much opportunity for him to use it, other than to talk to me. I have experience in Spanish, my pronunciation is good, and after a short refresher, I would probably be able to transition to speaking it with DS, though probably not extensively. 

 

I was unaware of the "earlier isn't always better" It does make sense though that learning a language through books is harder to maintain than immersion. 

 

 


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#14 loesje22000

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 11:19 AM

Wow, that's a lot.

Does she still study/speak/know English, French, Latin, Biblical Greek, and German?


Biblical Greek has been put in the fridge and as we don't use it now, I don't know what she still remembers.

Dutch, English, French, Latin, and German are all exam subjects in her track, so yes, we still study them, but not in an American 'one hour per subject per day' way.
Some languages get more time / attention then others.
We don't do all languages in a bilingual way, that would be too heavy.
But she does the sciences in English since grade 2, and did math in english for several years.

As dd is in the Latin - Modern Languages track she has less hours math and science then she would have if she would be in a Math - Science track, but then she only would have Dutch- English- French as examlanguages
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#15 Dust

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 11:27 AM

I should probably look for resources for teaching/strengthening Urdu (having in-laws teach him is not working out) and he can get practice by speaking with them. They speak some English, so he is able to avoid needing to speak in Urdu to them when he doesn't know the right way to say something. 

 

And for Arabic, we can do some flashcards and light grammar. I want him to be ready for when he starts the Qur'an memorization program next summer.


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#16 Mabelen

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 02:33 PM

With your additional information, I personally would concentrate on doing Urdu and Arabic thoroughly.

Languages are time intensive to attain and maintain. You need strong motivation. This could be extrinsic by needing a language to communicate, or intrinsic by a personal desire to learn the language.

For example, my husband is not a language guy, and yet, he speaks 3 languages. His motivation was extrinsic. He was a linguistic minority in a country with 3 official languages. He had the need to use all 3 pretty much on a daily basis, including at school. I grew up monolingual. My mother tongue was the majority language, and I lived in a monolingual area. I had no need to speak anything other than Spanish. However, I started studying English at school. I realized that I was good at it, and started to become interested in the language and the people who speak it and their cultures. My motivation was intrinsic. I had no real need to put in the time and effort, but I was fascinated, so I learned. The same happened with Italian when I took a class in college.

ETA You can always add Spanish later, when you can commit to doing Spanish consistently.

It is the same as Hindi, though Urdu might have more borrowed Arabic words.

Arabic and Urdu share a lot of nouns. Verbs are quite different.

I want DS to learn Arabic vocabulary and become familiar with some verb patterns so he can understand Qur'an, since we plan to put him in a program for memorizing it next year.

So I suppose, I'm wondering if I should teach Arabic, and let that be our language for now, or if I should start spanish with him too.

But maybe it's more important to only do Arabic now, since there will be more exposure.


Edited by Mabelen, 25 August 2017 - 02:38 PM.

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#17 luuknam

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 03:42 PM

Wow, that's a lot.

 

Does she still study/speak/know English, French, Latin, Biblical Greek, and German?

 

 

You should probably also keep in mind that Dutch, German, English, French, and Latin are relatively closely related languages (Biblical Greek is a little more distant, I think, but still Indo-European). While English, Urdu, and Spanish are Indo-European languages as well, Urdu is going to be quite different (based on the bit of Hindi I learned) - you don't have a neat little cluster of languages there. And Arabic is not even Indo-European. I'm not entirely sure what your motivation is for learning Spanish, but like some of the others said, it might be better to table it for now, since the kid is not really interested. 


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#18 Dust

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 07:19 PM

You should probably also keep in mind that Dutch, German, English, French, and Latin are relatively closely related languages (Biblical Greek is a little more distant, I think, but still Indo-European). While English, Urdu, and Spanish are Indo-European languages as well, Urdu is going to be quite different (based on the bit of Hindi I learned) - you don't have a neat little cluster of languages there. And Arabic is not even Indo-European. I'm not entirely sure what your motivation is for learning Spanish, but like some of the others said, it might be better to table it for now, since the kid is not really interested. 

 

You're right. 

 

Spanish comes from mainly selfish reasons :D It would be the easiest out of all of them for *me* to teach, because back in the day, I was pretty fluent for a high schooler, and would like to have someone to speak with without having to get out of my introverted bubble ;) 

 

It's also a language where DS won't be able to groan and say "I know that already, can we not do this," but in all reality he will do that anyhow.  :laugh:



#19 luuknam

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Posted 26 August 2017 - 08:15 PM

Spanish comes from mainly selfish reasons :D It would be the easiest out of all of them for *me* to teach,

 

 

That said, English, Urdu, and Arabic is still less work than English, Urdu, Arabic, and Spanish. 


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#20 Earthmerlin

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 09:08 AM

You're right.

Spanish comes from mainly selfish reasons :D It would be the easiest out of all of them for *me* to teach, because back in the day, I was pretty fluent for a high schooler, and would like to have someone to speak with without having to get out of my introverted bubble ;)

It's also a language where DS won't be able to groan and say "I know that already, can we not do this," but in all reality he will do that anyhow. :laugh:


I'd say go with Spanish since you speak it already. Perhaps just approach it in a relaxed way--focusing on conversational Spanish? I think it's a gift to have that passed on to your child.
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#21 Earthmerlin

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 09:11 AM

I think a lot of it also depends on the child's interest level.


Ain't that the truth!! I'm raising my daughter with Spanish & French & it's an uphill battle since she's absolutely convinced English is HER language. I keep plugging along though....
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#22 mathmarm

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Posted 04 September 2017 - 05:46 PM

We do two family languages from birth as daily languages--English and ASL.
Hubby and I are currently pecking away at 2 modern languages that we're interested in our kids learning down the road.

We are considering an immersion elementary school.

#23 luuknam

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Posted 08 September 2017 - 06:30 PM

I'd say go with Spanish since you speak it already. Perhaps just approach it in a relaxed way--focusing on conversational Spanish? I think it's a gift to have that passed on to your child.

 

IIUC Dust correctly though, English and Urdu are heritage languages, and she wants to do Arabic for religious reasons, so, Spanish would just be an extra language, because it's common in the US, or something, plus she already knows it. Of course, I may have misunderstood. So, it's not Spanish or Arabic or w/e... it'd be on top of the other languages. At which point, one thing to ask yourself is "should I teach my kids every language I happen to know?". And I think the answer to that is "no" (my kids are probably so grateful for my opinion on that, lol). 

 

Ain't that the truth!! I'm raising my daughter with Spanish & French & it's an uphill battle since she's absolutely convinced English is HER language. I keep plugging along though....

 

 

Yeah, I make mine learn Dutch, even though they don't want to (Broccoli thought it was fun at first, but I think Celery's whining has influenced him :glare: ). Too bad. Lucky for them, so far I haven't had the inclination to make them learn all the languages I know... 


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#24 visitor

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:09 PM

My kids speak Arabic (classical Fosha) and Dutch . When they became 5 years old I added English . And this year we started with French ... I do believe a good Arabic background with reading , Grammer and lots of vocabulary is good start before starting to memorize Quran . But I have seen lots of Chinese and other non Arabic speaking kids memorizing Quran without any Arabic background . But for better understanding the Quran and Tafsir Arabic is a must .

Edited by visitor, 13 September 2017 - 05:13 PM.

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