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Raising a trilingual?

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I speak American, my wife is Japanese and we want to raise our child speaking 3 languages.

I can speak English and Spanish fluently, and my wife obviously Japanese but we really want to teach them to speak Spanish and English.

We will be moving to the U.S. pretty soon so his/her education will be in English but, as far as Spanish/Japanese, is it even possible to teach those 2 at home?

Anyone raising a trilingual child (or bilingual), please post your experiences.

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Well speak all three at home. When they start school since it will be English switch to Spanish at home from you and Japanese from your wife.

My father always spoke french and my mother always spoke English. We went to a French school no third language though.

I have cousins who's father spoke English did not know a word of french. Their mom still only spoke french to them.


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I have always focussed on English with a few Americanisms but have noticed as they get older they will just raise their eyes and use American.

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i see nothing wrong with trilingual at home.

are you asking about teaching techniques, instead?

and fwiw, I've not spoken American in more than 2 decades now - it just seems too coarse coming out of my mouth.

Edited by Darnell

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Mini-Bone hears chiefly Spanish from Mrs. T-B. and exclusively English from me. He understands both.

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Mini-Bone hears chiefly Spanish from Mrs. T-B. and exclusively English from me. He understands both.

I was told by my German teacher that Each parent should only use 1 language when talking to their child, otherwise they can mix the languages.

Nothing wrong with raising him using differents languages, just have to do it the smart way so they don't get confused.

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I want my children to speak both my language and my husband language. I went to a family home that just had two kids I asked how are they going to learn both. they said no matter what when they get to school they will learn English so the only thing they speak in the house is Amharic ( Ethiopian language) .. so right now both kids only know Amharic then once they start school they will learn English. so pretty much like others said above speak the language they wont learn in school at home more often then the one they will grow up learning anyways.

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Wow thanks for all the great responses! I will keep all these in mind when raising my children and thank you.

I also ran into this article a few days ago and thought you guys mind like it.


It's pretty interesting so let me know what you think.

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I am interested in this topic as I have a lot of friends who married people from other countries. However, ALL of their kids speak English only even though the other parent tried to keep their native language instilled in the home.

Though my fiance is British, he loves the fact that I know Spanish and wants us to teach it to our children. How do you keep the foreign language fresh even though English is practically forced in our society?

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Good question.

In my case, because both my parents are Mexican, even though I was born in the US, they didn't know any English during that time and spoke to me in Spanish. Even to this day only Spanish but, the point I'm trying to make is, don't worry about English. They have TV, school, friends and other things they can learn from naturally so, I would concentrate on Spanish 100% at home. How's your fiance's Spanish?

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I have been a dual immersion (Spanish) teacher for six years now -1st grade. For highest success, one parent should speak only one language to the child. If this is not possible, the next best thing is to have designated language times at home.

When both languages are spoken by both parents whenever, it can potentially cause drastic confusion for the child and devastating academic results (if enrolled in a dual immersion program). I know this from first hand experience as a teacher.

My suggestion is that your wife speaks Japanese only, you speak Spanish only, and your child will learn English in school and by living in America.

There are many schools with immersion programs in the U.S., just be careful it isn't a bilingual program. They're very different. Dual immersion is structured so the child becomes academically proficient in two languages.

Bilingual is structured to eventually transfer a child out of the native language into English.

When I have children, I plan to enroll them in an Arabic immersion program. My husband will speak Arabic to them, I will speak Spanish, and they will learn English at school. I'm confident that as a teacher I can teach them Spanish so that is why I choose Arabic immersion and not Spanish.

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Thank you very much for your input and experience as a teacher.

I didn't know the difference between the bilingual programs and immersion programs.

I will definitely look into the immersion program if the city I live in offers it.

And speaking to them in our native language does sound like a good idea. I guess I was worried as to how good they would get only speaking it at home.

Even now for me, even though I only spoke Spanish with my family and received no formal education, my relatives/cousins living in Mexico speak way better than me and I also sometimes have trouble reading a newspaper.

But I'll look into these programs more and look at the best options for us.

Thanks and any more comments are welcome!

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Most of the information we have read is that each parent should only speak to the child in their native language.

When our child is born I will only speak Dothraki and my wife will only speak Klingon.

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