OK, from this thread on our baby-to-be, I discussed our plans raising her to be multilingual.
I’ve got a number of bilingual American friends who are married to Japanese women. For the most part, real bilingualism doesn’t result with their kids. The fathers talk Japanese to their wives and while they try to talk Japanese to their children, it doesn’t work out that well, and the kids don’t become fluent in English.
Other friends here include a couple where the mother is Mongolian and father Korean. They speak Japanese to each other and the 18-month old daughter is in Japanese-language daycare. She “speaks” Mongolian as well, but no Korean.
I’ve seen children who go to international schools and are fluent in both languages, but at US$20,000 per child per year, that’s not an option for our family.
We’ve got an unusual situation where my wife speaks Taiwanese, Mandarin, and Japanese, with some English thrown in. Our communication is in Japanese, the only language we are both fluent in. Unfortunately, I’m only bilingual, because my inadequate efforts in learning her native tongue haven’t paid off.
Anyway, I’ve been studying methodology and I think the OPOL (one person, one language) looks best for us. I’ll speak English, my wife will speak Mandarin, and we’ll let the school system and surrounding culture teach Japanese.
We’re looking at how much my wife will stay at home, verses day care, and if her mother will stay with us for how long. All of this will have various contributions to the language pool.
Unless purposeful efforts are made, English would be her weakest, because of the other influences. I’ve discussed this with my mother, and we’re going to use Skype with web cams to help increase the amount of English interaction. We’ll also look around for English playgroups as well as Chinese ones.
Reading on a daily basis seems to be one of the best things to do, as well as singing and other fun interactions.
We’ll take her regularly to Taiwan and the States, and will bring over the respective grandmothers.
I just read an article in a newsletter for bilingual education in which the American father wrote about doing similar activities with his 5 yo, and it seems to be working.
What experiences to people have growing up or raising bi or multilingual children? What works and what hasn’t? Have you run into problems and what kinds?
I’ve been reading a message board for parents raising multilingual children, but I also want to hear from dopers.