May 18, 2007

Multilingual Children.

Lakshmi ponders about raising a child in a multilingual environment. This is her interesting background:

1. My mother tongue : Tamil
2. LG's dad's (The Seniol) mother tongue : Bengali
3. LG's dad speaks with his dad in : Punjabi (as he grew up in Punjab)
4. I talk with LG's dad in : English and Hindi
5. Language of the environment : Marathi (we live in Pune)


Tricky indeed!

11 comments:

SS said...

At our place, we are conversant in 3 languages and we mix them up all the time, everyday ... it used to concern me earlier on but the more people I talk to about this, the more I hear about how it's all right to do so ... if anything,kids exposed to this will become multilingual themselves and very early on in life. So in my humble opinion,it's all good :)

Manchus said...

I second SS's(too many S :)) opinion. I grew up in a multilingual environment and seem to have learnt many languages while I was a child. But now I am struggling to learn Spanish. Children are like sponge as they can absorb any number of languages or skills.

The Mad Momma said...

I come from a multicultural background and personally as a child in that situation, I feel its highly over rated. in the attempt for everyone to get a piece of the pie and teach the child 'their own mother tongue' the child gets the worst of it. not to say that it confuses because i am told i started speaking tamil at 10 months. but i just felt quite irritated as i grew, at everyone's insistence that i learn their language. same with my brother. so though we both speak and understand hindi, english, tamil and bengali, we refuse to speak tamil and bengali most of the time. i guess its a personal thing - the two of us just didnt like it. what made most sense was hindi because we were growing up in U.P.

now my kids have konkani added to the mess and the husband and I just speak english and hindi to them. the other relatives speak in their own languages and now my son at two understands close to 6 languages while he speaks in two. I dont think multilingual kids speak late. if a child is a late speaker he or she will speak late even if you teach them only one language so have no fears!

i guess it really depends on what is important to you. the husband and i are not particular abt our culture or language being carried on so we're happy not making any effort to teach him otherwise.

IBH said...

well said MM...i second ur thought as i come from a multiculutural family and got in to a bigger one too...:)
i have close family members speaking,tamil,malayalam,telugu,punjabi,well for that fact even swedish.....what did my nieces learn? all languages but speak only english....it is their personal choice and mine too....

SUR NOTES said...

i am from a punjabi family but we spoke mostly hindi and english at home, but since we were constantly travelling i picked up a smattering of various languages along the way.
i married a malayali. he finds it odd to be the only one speaking in malayalam to our child so he speaks to her in hindi and english. but the lady who cleans the house speaks only marathi. and our friends insist on speaking to her in their language- tamil, malayalam, telugu etc etc.

so she has picked up words in many languages. the annoying part is when she says something in a language I DONT UNDERSTAND.

all in all i think its great that she is growing up surrounded with so many languages. as long as no one insists she speak in a particular way i think she will grow up fine.

Rohini said...

I think too much o a big deal is made about this. Sure, kids in multilingual homes speak later but aren't we getting a little too hung up on these milestones to decide what is normal. I know a lot of very articluate, intelligent adults who were late to speak. As long as they get there, why does the exact month matter?

And while I don't think we should teach kids more and more languages just for the heck of it, they should be exposed to whatever languages they will be growing up with. My son is exposed to Hindi, Marathi and English on a daily baiss and while he did speak a little later than others and is just getting into full sentences at 24 months, I don't really see any cause for concern.

That being said, I did fret over it a few months back so I am not trying to be all holier-than-thou but just saying that as you go along you realise that this is one of those non-issues we moms love to get all worked up about :)

artnavy said...

as long as Anush communicates and I understand it is okay by me

no force- just exposure is alright
anush responds more to english than to Tamil or Hindi- though we use all the three languages at home

and of course there is a new language in the making- LINGUANUSHKA

karmickids said...

I grew up with Hindi, English, Marathi and Gujarati. And did okay with all, english and Hindi at home, Marathi and Gujarati in the neighbourhood. When the brat had delayed speech issues, we were advised by every therapist we went to to keep the home single lingual (we have English, Hindi and Marathi at home) to help him pick up speech. Of course, we continued speaking in all the languages and he speaks all languages today, english to me and father, hindi with grandmom, and marathi with the maids and driver....so expose them to as many languages as you can...

GettingThereNow said...

It has been shown by research, and I have personal experience that children who are exposed to multiple languages ultimately face no language/speech problems. They might start speaking late (and lets face it - thats GOOD :D) but ultimately will catch up with their peers.

It is suggested that if you want to teach a child two languages at home then each parent should pick up one language and stick to it (e.g. Dad speaks only Hindi with the child and Mom speaks only english). This helps reduce confusion and helps them learn faster. This can be extended to more than two languages too - each adult who is actively involved in the child's life, should pick up one language to converse in with the child and stick to it. I have actually seen it work with my nephew at the age of a little over one year old. He could understand and speak Hindi, English, Kutchi and Gujarati words - and he also knew what language to use with whom!! He was actually an early speaker.

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