Posts Tagged multilingual-children

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Will Three Languages Confuse a Young Child?

By

Will Three Languages Confuse a Young Child?
Dear Dr. Gupta,   I enjoyed reading some of your replies to people who asked for advice and am hoping you might be able to shed some light on our dilemma.   I grew up in Minnesota speaking only English from birth until age 13, when I took my first Spanish class in middle school, but had a chance to study in Ecuador for a year as an exchange student at age 17.  It was hard coming back to the U.S. since I had really embraced Latino culture-- the importance of family and friends, deeper relationships, and living more in the present, instead of sacrificing the joy in the moment for potential gains in the future, which is how a lot of people live in this country.  Read more »

Do I Hold My Son Back to Get into the Immersion Program?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I need some advice.   As a multiracial/multicultural family it's important that my children speak English, Spanish (which I am teaching them) and Korean.  Read more »

Many Languages, One America: 25 Proud Bilingual Children

The multilingual Coke commercial that aired during the most watched American TV event of the year—the SuperBowl—was exciting.  Read more »

Why Most African Kids are Multilingual

The average Kenyan child speaks three languages. This figure is even higher amongst children in urban deprived areas who regularly speak five languages.  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in Italy: Dutch, Dialect of Dutch, Italian and English

Welcome Angelique and Chanel!   Where are you from?   Angelique: I am from Maastricht, the Netherlands.   Where do you currently live and what countries have you lived in?   The Netherlands and now in Italy.   How old is your child and where was she born? What is her cultural heritage?   Chanel is seven.  Read more »

How Many Languages Are Too Many for a Child?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I have a burning question. How many languages is too many? I ask because we are a trilingual family English/French/Spanish. We have decided on homeschooling this September with our two girls (two-and-a-half & turning five), in part to be able to up the time spent with Spanish, the minority language in our house, which has been falling by the wayside.  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in the U.S.: Mandarin, Spanish and English

Welcome Carmen and Whitney!   Where are you from?   Whitney: Hanover, New Hampshire U.S.. Carmen: Quito, Ecuador   Where do you currently live and what countries have you lived in together?   We live in San Francisco and have temporarily lived together in Quito, Ecuador and Paris, France. We have traveled together to many places around the world like: India, Turkey, South East Asia, Central and South America and Europe.  Read more »

Why Do You Speak Arabic, Baba?

Lately, my kids have had a lot of questions about language—why they have to take Spanish, why do we speak other languages. My four-year-old has also hit the typically four-year-old stage of really resisting my changing languages with her from English to Spanish. It makes her really angry and she will command me to “Speak English!” If a book happens to have a Spanish word in it, she will cover the page with her hand and tell me not to talk like that.  Read more »

Are Four Languages Too Much?

Dear Dr. Gupta,   I am a very proud Hungarian mum of the greatest three-month old baby, Dominic, whose Dad is Albanian, but we live in Spain. However we communicate in English. As you can see there are four languages in Dominic's life and I know that a kid's brain is like a sponge but when is it too much? I speak to him in Hungarian, my husband in Albanian but we do talk with each other in English.  Read more »

10 Things Not to Say to Parents of Multilingual Children

As a Polish mother in the Netherlands with multilingual children growing up with Polish, German and Dutch, I often hear uninformed and judgmental comments. Inspired by Babble’s “What not to say…” series, I wrote my own list about what you should never (and I mean NEVER) say to parents of multilingual children. 1) “I know somebody who is bilingual, and they never learned to speak any language properly.  Read more »

Language Dilemmas in a Multilingual Family

Language has always fascinated me. Getting to know a culture and its complex, subliminal messages…the soul of a people comes only with an understanding of that society’s language. That is why I chose Foreign Languages as my major in college and studied German for a year and half, dreaming of a career as a United Nations translator/interpreter.  Read more »

When Relocation Adds a New Language to the Mix

I am now faced with another move 18 months into our Asian adventure, having not yet finished arguing with myself over how much to encourage (hyper-parent) my kids to learn Mandarin on top of our three family languages. We are relocating to Bangkok. This opens up a whole world of new possibilities. First and foremost, it means I will be able to afford daily massages, as we will no longer be living hand to mouth.  Read more »

The 10 Best Things About Going Bilingual

The 10 best things about going bilingual with your children:   1. When people ask my kids where they're from (a pretty common question for anyone with brown skin tone), they say France! (Sadly, neither me nor their Papa have any direct connection to France, I just happen to have studied the language and decided to pass it on.)   2.  Read more »

Language Forgetting

I am still thinking about language forgetting. The issue at hand is that my daughters do not hear enough German to be able to develop a strong foundation, right? I am the only constantly available source of German they have. Doesn't that mean that I am the issue, really? Well, part of it is the fact that one person alone cannot provide enough immersion.  Read more »

What Bilingualism is Not

I have had the chance to live and work for extended periods of time in at least three countries: the United States, Switzerland and France, and as a researcher on bilingualism, it has allowed me to learn a lot about my topic of interest. I have found that people in these countries share many misconceptions about bilingualism and bilinguals but that they also have very country-specific attitudes towards them.  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in the U.S.: Arabic, Spanish and English

Welcome Selene and Jad!   Where are you from?   Selene: Guadalajara, Mexico   Jad: Rachaya El Wadi, Lebanon   Where do you currently live?   Grand Rapids, Michigan   Selene: We have only ever lived in Michigan together.   How did you meet?   Selene: We met in school (university) in Michigan when he was a junior and I was a sophomore and ended up working at the same office—a study abroad office—in college.  Read more »

Forgetting my Mother Tongue

Francois Grosjean's recent article on language forgetting struck a cord. I have experienced a form of language forgetting myself when I was seven years old, in a limited sense. My family moved from Frankfurt in Germany's Hessen region to Hamburg in the North. Both my sister and I had spoken "hessisch," the local dialect spoken in Hessen. Within six months after the move we had both completely switched to a Hamburg accent and had actually forgotten our dialect.  Read more »

Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins

While viewing a new exhibition at the art museum with my twin daughters, who are three and a half years old, we stopped in front of a painting that caught their attention. I asked them, "Que ven en esta obra?" (What do you see in this picture?) Emma jumped and said, "Nieve y Arboles" (snow and trees). Hannah, with a concerned face, answered, "Es buy scary" (it is very scary).  Read more »

Study: Bilingual Infants Can Distinguish Unfamiliar Languages

Here's two new studies on bilingualism.   Infants raised in households where Spanish and Catalan are spoken can discriminate between English and French just by watching people speak, even though they have never been exposed to these new languages before. Read more about it here.   The psychologist who conducted the study, Janet Werker has previously shown that bilingual infants can discern different native languages at four, six and eight months after birth.  Read more »

Cheerleading, Katy Perry and My Six-Year-Old

Our soon to be six-year-old is now taking cheerleading classes once a week after school. Her best friend S does it so we didn't even go into the "why not do some real activity?" discussion. And now she is building up a repertoire of pop songs that she hums and sings while she is playing, and that has made us think. Picking up English I do not remember at what age I started to listen to music.  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in the U.S.: Portuguese, Romanian and English

Welcome Ingrid and Leo!   Where are you from? Leo: Brazil   Ingrid: Romania   Where do you currently live? Berkeley, CA. (The each hold a PhD from the University of Berkeley).   How did you meet? Leo: At a birthday party of a friend in common.   Ingrid: It's a much longer story than that. He was visiting from Brazil.  Read more »

Autism and Multilingualism: A Parent’s Perspective

It happened again last week. I was enjoying a cup of coffee with a colleague when she asked me point blank what language we spoke at home. I often get that question as my husband and I come from different countries and on top of that, we're expats in Turkey. This makes us, for all practical purposes, a trilingual family. But people don't buy that and they want to know which of our three languages we really speak, when no one is watching.  Read more »

On the Hunt for French and Twi Books

We are always on the hunt for books in our family to support my childrens' language acquisition. For French books, this is fairly straightforward. After all, it's the tenth most widely spoken language in the world, with around 130 million speakers, which makes for a lot of books! There is a French Amazon, and the Canadian Amazon carries lots of French titles as well.  Read more »

Languages of the Mind and Heart: Growing up Trilingual in the UK

As someone who loves to write and read, a love of language and words fits naturally. My family is of Punjabi origin, hailing from Jhelum, Pakistan and therefore speaks a Patwari dialect of Punjabi. Growing up, I spoke Patwari with my mother and grandparents; this was the language they scolded us in (Danger! Animals!) and loved us in. The dialect they used is exactly the one they brought with them from Pakistan to the UK forty years ago.  Read more »

Osmosis of Language

By the age of four, I had lived in three different countries and spoke pieces of three different languages. I was born in the former Soviet Union to an East German father and a Peruvian mother. My parents were university students in present day Ukraine and they communicated with each other in their only common language at that time, Russian. My first words were in Russian, although my father always addressed me in German and my mother in Spanish.  Read more »

Myths of Multilingual Families

In some families, children become bilingual. When a child interacts with one or more caretakers in a language on a regular basis, he or she learns to use that language. The key to learning languages in the home—whether one, two, or even more—is interaction. Interaction involves speaking and listening. In many intercultural families, however, children do not become bilingual.  Read more »
Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

Her baby's bare feet ended up being a lesson on poverty and privilege.

Why We Need to Read Multicultural Children's Books

Children need to see the world around them reflected in books.

How My Two Year Old is Teaching Me Thai

I am just another "farang" or stranger until my son starts speaking fluent Thai

10 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Child

What you may want to consider before sending in that adoption application.

10 Best Children's Books for Gifts

Our Editors favorite multicultural books for this holiday season.

Will Three Languages Confuse a Young Child?

My wife thinks three languages will confuse our child. Is she right?

11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa

Try a few of these from this fantastic selection of African-American holiday books

What I Can Do as a White Mom After Darren Wilson’s Acquittal

How do I explain to my kids the racism that does not come in the form of explicit laws and overt, blatant prejudice?

10 Multicultural Children’s Books that Make Adults Cry

We dare you to read these without a tear

Why This Mom Banned the Word ‘Weird’ From Her Kids' Vocabulary

One approach to explaining diversity to kids.

French versus Italian Parenting in One Multicultural Family

How one mom in an intercultural marriage sees the differences between Italian and French parenting

The Cultural Battleground of Sleepovers

Should they be allowed because it's "normal?" Think again.

Are Parents Too Overprotective in the West and Too Lax in the East?

Would you pick up a stranger's child or is that invasive?

Does Religion Matter? Juggling Two Faiths in One Family

What's the best way to transmit the values we care about to our kids?

Amazing Portraits of Biracial Kids

Smarter, larger, better, healthier and more beautiful? A project that debunks stereotypes.

Dear White Officer, Please Don't Shoot

At what age does my darling black son begin to look like a threat to the world?

A Book that Celebrates Cross-Cultural Friendship

A great pick for back to school season

My Daughter’s 10 Favorite Multicultural Books

Does your shelf have these kid favorites?

I was Diagnosed with Cancer at Age 37 while Abroad with Kids

Illness in a foreign country can be scary but it taught this mom a different meaning of family.

Huge Giveaway for Eid: Tea Collection, Little Passports, Little Pim, Dolls, Books, Music & More

Win almost $300 in prizes from awesome globally-inspired children's products.

5 Smoothies Your Kids Will Love

Healthy smoothies for summer your kids will like.

3 Beautiful Children’s Books That Take Place in the Himalayas

Beautiful children's stories from Nepal to Tibet

Why African Toddlers Don't Have Tantrums

The secret of why African babies don't meltdown like Western ones.

How I Made My Forgotten Native Language My Child’s Strongest

I started off by speaking dodgy Cantonese. No word for remote control? No problem! ‘Pressy thingy.’

Help Us Giveaway a Soccer Ball to Kids in Ethiopia!

Let's donate a ball to kids who need it in Ethiopia. Here's how you can help!

Tanabata Festival: July 7

A beautiful Japanese summer festival

Homemade Art Books for Ramadan

A simple homemade gift for kids

A Children's Book for Global Citizens: Everyone Prays

A celebration of faith around the world through simple text and rich illustrations.

Do I Hold My Son Back to Get into the Immersion Program?

What would you do? Your child won a place in the lottery, only problem is it's the wrong year!
For quite sometime, whenever there were articles that surfaced the internet concerning whether it was appropriate to breastfeed in public, I was so baffled. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that som...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
For quite some whenever there was articles circulated on the internet concerning whether it is appropriate to breastfeed in public. As a Mongolian, I was so shocked that some countries considered i...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
I live with my Czech in laws with my four children and my Czech is crap I try to learn but the baby doesn't sleep well I'm a constant zombie and the brain just doesn't work. Plus being tired makes m...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
I am so glad I found this site. I am happy to see that I am not alone in experiencing 'family issues' after getting married. I am not from the West but I am married to a Canadian. I never truly unde...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
[…] my most favourite article about breastfeeding called Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan by Ruth Kamnitzer. I have no doubt that Mongolians would find our social stigmas around [R...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
[…] sources and reasons for the rules of these countries too, such as China, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, and Hungary (see above re “Titanic”).  Has anyone got s...
From International Baby Naming Laws–Are They a Good Thing?
[…] Source Inculture Parents […...
From Lotus Lanterns for Wesak (Buddha Day)
If your nerves shat down your hormones , can you get pregnant by injecting a sperm in you to develop a baby . Please let me know...
From Baby-Making the Hindu Way
[…] Diwali Lantern from InCultureParent […...
From Diwali Craft: Make a Lantern
Another great African American children's book is "Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters" Book by Fredrick McKissack, Jr. and Patricia McKissack A great DVD is Santa and pe...
From 11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa
[…] the father waits to speak Swahili to the child, the more risk he runs of her not ever learning it, which is true. The more he waits, the more risk he runs of her associating English with h...
From Why Your Bilingual Child Objects When You Switch Languages
This is really great! I wanted to do a book list for some of my friends and family about Kwanzaa. Thank you for this articl...
From 11 African-American Children’s Books for Christmas and Kwanzaa
This was interesting. My twin girls are 15 months, and although they are very verbal, we do not understand what they're saying. I'm American and their dad is French, and we live in France. I speak o...
From Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins
[…] the breastfeeding culture in Mongolia compared to America. Did you have any idea that something as simple as breastfeeding attitudes can […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
My mother born in the 1930's is originally from the northern part of Germany. I am in my mid fifties and have a terrible relationship with my mother. She is domineering and hurts those where it hurt...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
[…] JC Niala, InCultureParent […...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2012/03/breastfeeding-around-the-world/#slide1 […...
From Breastfeeding Around the World
Although humanity is one Man (in a generic sense, including woman)has identified himself endless groups, religious, nationalistic, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, etc. Once you separate ME from YOU on...
From What’s an Asian? Race and Identity for a New Generation
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/02/breastfeeding-land-genghis-khan/ […...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
Some great tips here but not many working mothers could feed baby every hour especially if you work in a major multi-nationa...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
So true!!! Thanks for being so honest and self reflective. It's a proof of true characte...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
As a first-time mom I've spent the last two months of my four-month-old's life stressed out about her sleep and I recognize how crazy this is. It's clearly not working for me! I'm wondering how non-...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
[…]                 http://www.incultureparent.com/2014/07/why-african-toddlers-dont-have-tantrums/ […...
From Why African Toddlers Don’t Have Tantrums
[…] Any content provided on this blog is opinion based with selected information from various sources where indicated. Image: http://www.incultureparent.com/2012/01/imbolc-craft-st-brigids-cro...
From Imbolc Craft: St. Brigid’s Cross
Or you could have had a beautiful white baby with a man from your own culture. Not enough drama in tha...
From How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law
Crystal, thanks for sharing your experiences. It makes for a fascinating read! The link to the Siddha school you provided seems to be no longer working. Is the school still ther...
From How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000
[…] but which colour to choose? Biome has 25% off storewide till midnight tonight with the code BIOME25 why African babies don’t cry – an absolutely brilliant […...
From Why African Babies Don’t Cry
[…] http://www.incultureparent.com/2014/06/6-childrens-books-to-celebrate-juneteenth/ […...
From 6 Children’s Books to Celebrate Juneteenth
I love this website and its insight on raising global citizens. I agree with what you say about no one English accent being correct - the thing that I was surprised by in this article was the fact ...
From Should I Worry about My Child’s Accent in Her Foreign Language?
Why are Germans thinking about being rude? Do You All want to be Just A Coarse-Face? If all of you deviate from Universalism, there is much more to fear from the world than you expec...
From Are Germans Really Rude?
[…] 3 Children’s Books from the Himalayas at InCultureParent […...
From 3 Beautiful Children’s Books That Take Place in the Himalayas
[…] How I Talk to My Kindergarten Classroom About Race […...
From How I Talk to My Kindergarten Classroom About Race
[…] don’t Need a Room. The baby room is certainly a modern invention. For much of history, and in other parts of the world today, babies […...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Addressing the "grown up time" someone mentioned earlier...am sure that many people address this differently with what works for their family. However, suffice it to say that when the baby's in your...
From The African Guide to Co-sleeping
[…] were taught to whistle – but other people use other sounds. Most people seem to shush or to hiss. It doesn’t really matter. You could probably sing “La Cucaracha” and it would stil...
From Thanks to Chinese Potty-Training We’re Done With Diapers at 19 Months
Thanks for the article! I tried to put my newborn twins into a bassinet at birth, but there was just no way! No way to breastfeed and no way to survive the nights with two of them waking me up all...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep
Olga, witam!:) what a fresh approach this has given me on such a day like today! I'm Half polish being polish from my mothers side and as this is the language that I ident myself with, I decided to ...
From 10 Things Not to Say to Parents of Multilingual Children
[…] the talk at school. You can see an example of bilingual twins’ language use in this article from InCultureParent and this Q&A on Twins List. Also, as you say, convincing them to spea...
From Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins
Thank you SOO much for sharing!!!! I have breastfed my twins for 3 years now and still going. It has been a struggle, especially with family members like my mother in law who wished I weaned at 2 m...
From Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan
[…] The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep […...
From The West’s Strange Relationship to Babies and Sleep