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Macyelm

Starting 2nd Lang Later

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Hi,

Can anyone recommend scholarly articles or books that suggest that starting a second language early isn't always best? 

I personally want to focus on English for a few years before exposing my son to his second language (grandparents speak Arabic). Would love to read the research to back this idea up. 

Thanks!

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What exactly do you mean?

There are many articles/books/websites of adults who have learned a new langauge. You don't lose the ability to learn a new langauge after X years of age.I don't know of any scholarly articles/books that address the virtues of waiting, but I know anecdotally that many European/Asian countries (and I assume African) start a language in 3rd or 5th grade and continue the language for 3+ years and if the instruction is good and continues, then the students learn to speak the language reasonably well. The most common complaint I hear is that they lose it if there is no where to speak/use the language outside of school.

My kids started studying Japanese at 10/11 years old and I have no doubt/misgivings about whether or not they will be able to master the language if they stick to it and get to use it regularly for an extended time, for example, going abroad or dating a Native Japanese speaker, etc.

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What are you afraid that will happen if your kids are exposed to Arabic early in their lives? Do you have any specific worries? I personally would not be afraid of exposing a young child to a heritage language. Your child can totally focus on and master English while being exposed to a second language (even becoming fluent in that second language). My two daughters were exposed to Spanish and English from birth. They were both schooled exclusively in English. My oldest is a recent college graduate, my youngest is a high school freshman. Both have always been great readers and have always tested advanced in English language arts by U.S. national norms. If you are not exposing your children to their heritage language early, you are excluding it from their lives. What do you hope your children will gain from that?

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I think you might have better luck on the GenEd board because this board is for parents who are homeschooling bilingually which means that not many will see it and those who do are likely going to be opposed to this philosophy. Board's description:

Quote

Educating your family in more than one language? Discuss challenges and curricula with other bilingual parents here.

General Education Board
K-8 Board
High School Board

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5 hours ago, Slache said:

I think you might have better luck on the GenEd board because this board is for parents who are homeschooling bilingually which means that not many will see it and those who do are likely going to be opposed to this philosophy. Board's description:

General Education Board
K-8 Board
High School Board

Good idea to bring it to the General board. There is definitely a lot more traffic there. I disagree that this board's members are in principle opposed to delaying introducing a second language. I know it can be done successfully. I was not raised bilingual. In fact, I finished high school with a very rudimentary knowledge of English. I consider myself fully bilingual now.

I think there are a lot more factors to consider very carefully when the second language is a heritage language, not a mere second or foreign language. The OP said it is a language spoken by her child's grandparents, for whom it very likely is an integral part of their emotional, cultural, and possibly religious identities. Personally, I think it is wise to facilitate in any way possible your child's relationship with his or her grandparents unless there are serious concerns about their suitability in general to have a healthy relationship with your child. That is the reason why I was asking the OP about her worries, and why I related my personal experience raising two bilingual children. I wish the OP the best. If she comes back, I will gladly help her if I can.

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Thanks for your replies. 

What I meant by starting later, is starting a formal education in Arabic at a later stage. I don't write or read in Arabic myself, and don't feel the need to outsource it at a preschool age. I will, however, expose him to it through song and interaction with extended family. 

I will post this question in the other threads, as recommended above. 

 

Thanks!

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This last post puts this thread in a whole new context.  Most kids around the world don't even learn their own language "formally" in preschool.  Exposing him to it through song and family interaction is a form of immersion. 

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There is some research that people lose the ability to speak a second language with native accent around 7-10 years. This may vary and may not be true for all languages either. Early exposure is always good IMHO. Better yet if a grandparent or parent can take some time to speak to the child in the other language so receptive language and expressive language can be practiced.  If a child is only exposed to audio / video but is not encouraged to converse with someone, receptive language may be fine but expressive language could be lagging.

Edited by Liz CA

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On 10/8/2018 at 4:31 AM, Macyelm said:

Thanks for your replies. 

What I meant by starting later, is starting a formal education in Arabic at a later stage. I don't write or read in Arabic myself, and don't feel the need to outsource it at a preschool age. I will, however, expose him to it through song and interaction with extended family. 

I will post this question in the other threads, as recommended above. 

Thanks!

If he is not spending time with that extended family on a daily basis, then I would expose him to the language by writing a list of 20-30 things that you say to the kids every day anyway and intentionally using the Arabic phrases with him, more than using songs. For my kids, the songs were just noise without the context language having meaning. Learning the alphabet, colors and random thematic nouns for seasons/weather etc is a terribly useless way to learn the language and I know dozens of kids and adults who started with that approach and got nowhere.

Teach your kids functional language like
"come here"
"Do you want ____ or ____"
"pick that up"
"put that down"
"go get your [noun]"
"have you seen the____"
"have you seen my ____"
as well as the question phrases
"what is....
where is...
who is/was....
why did you/he/she...and
how did...."

Teach him to say
"I (don't) want....
I (don't) need...."
I (don't) have..."

You also want him to learn some basic verbs so that he gets the idea that I ___ might be different from she ___, we ___ or they ___.
 

If you don't know how to say those things in Arabic, ask your relatives to help you by translating those phrases for you. When the kids can respond to and interact meaningfully in the language with their extended family, it gives them a foundation to build both a relationship from and language fluency in. Its possible for grandma to cook with or do crafts with the kids when they can understand the instructions she gives, and when uncles can converse with them about what they want and need at the store, there is a gateway to communicate from day one.

As for waiting to formally teach him the language until he is elementary school aged. There are many schools that do immersion teaching from K or 1st and by the end of elementary school, the kids are comfortable in the immersed language and their native language. There are millions of expat kids who live at home in one language and go to school in a second language that they don't speak. When I was a kid, I watched as hundreds of kids in my PS who spoke no English on the first day, learned English fluently by the 2nd or 3rd year in school. The faster they learned functional language--phrases that they could plug-and-play--the better their language was early on.

I'm not sure that any research has been done that waiting is better, (frankly I think that earlier is better when the consistency and sense-making of the language are started earlier) but instead I'd look for research that says that waiting isn't insurmountable.

 

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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On 10/8/2018 at 4:31 AM, Macyelm said:

Thanks for your replies. 

What I meant by starting later, is starting a formal education in Arabic at a later stage. I don't write or read in Arabic myself, and don't feel the need to outsource it at a preschool age. I will, however, expose him to it through song and interaction with extended family. 

I will post this question in the other threads, as recommended above. 

 

Thanks!

Hi. Coming in a little later here. There has been a lot of research and data collected in Canada regarding exactly this issue. In Canada, it's usually implemented in the school systems, then research data collected, as: Early Immersion,  Middle Immersion and Later Immersion. The research questions tend to be: What are the differences in fluency levels at the high school level when students begin Early Immersion, Middle Immersion or Late Immersion in their second language? 

Early Immersion = starting age 3 - 5, depending on province and birthday of child. Immersion programs range from 50 - 100% immersion in second language at school

Middle  Immersion = starting age 7 - 9. Immersion programs usually around 50% each language

Late Immersion = staring age 12 - 14. 50% each language.

Results are usually something like: There is no significant difference between Early and Middle Immersion on fluence by the time students reaches high school. With Late Immersion, fluency levels are often lower. However, not much data is collected beyond high school level, so fluency levels can definitely continue to improve if studies in the second language continue after high school.

** Canada is an officially bilingual country (English and French), however only one province is officially bilingual (New Brunswick). Education is governed by individual provinces and how second language instruction in the school boards are implemented varies from location to location. 

 

Edited by wintermom
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I recommend this book: The Bilingual Edge.

It is not a scholarly book, but the authors are both scholars and parents and they refer to their own research and the research of others. Their motto is "It's never too early (or too late) to learn another language."

My experience with my kids is that we lived in a country where the best way to get kids exposed to the national language was by putting them in school. Our youngest thrived at local school and did well with the language. Our oldest was very sensitive and did not do well with the strict environment and was struggling with handwriting and reading in English as well. So we pulled her out of school and homeschooled her, but we had a young woman come three days a week to play with her and read stories, etc. She hated those sessions, even though the young woman was very kind and patient. We were out of the country for three years, when we focused on French instead, and now we are back in this country. She is taking language lessons four hours a week, with a communicative approach, and working with her dad an hour a week on the written language. She is speeding through it and enjoying it. In her situation, learning the language as a young teen has been way more effective and a more positive experience than learning it as a preschooler and young child. But my youngest, on the other hand, did really well as a young child, and is doing really well as a teen.

Good luck, with whatever you choose!

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