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Author Topic: Languages and Children  (Read 8692 times)

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Offline Journeyman

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« on: April 23, 2005, 04:40:12 PM »
My fiancee and I have been speaking about a lot of things regarding the future -- the most recent issue being the matter of what language(s) we should speak with our future children.  

Currently, she feels that, when she is alone with our future child, she should speak Russian. On the other hand, she says she would speak English to everybody when I or others are present.  She always speaks English with me, except she will receive my help in Russian when she does not know how to say or hear something in English.  She wants to learn to speak English better, of course, and so it is possible that her feelings might change also.

I think it would be great if our child(ren) learn to speak Russian, and other languages as well.  I know that children, when young, are entirely capable of learning more than one language simultaneously (English, Russian, and even another).  Still, I am wondering how this issue has worked out in other Russian-American families.  

Any insights to offer?

Journeyman  :)

Offline 525i

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« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2005, 05:19:57 PM »
Children can learn many languages simultaneously.

My friend is from Croatia and he was married with Finnish woman. Their children speak Finnish and Croatian of course, but also English. I believe that they can speak German too. And, maybe Swedish. Looks like I have to ask about this.

It is possible that child can learn three languages at the same time. When a child is with mother they speak Russian, when with father they speak Finnish (or other language) and when with mother and father they speak English.

I heard one child talking mixed Finnish and Russian.

Anyway, learning two/three languages slows down learning process a bit.

I think it is a good thing that they speak Russian too, because when they visit mother's family, they can communicate with them. They can also find Russian/Ukrainian friends. When my friend visits parents in Croatia, they usually spend about five weeks in there. The children has friends in there.

Your fiancee is right. Let her speak Russian to your future children.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2005, 05:21:00 PM by 525i »

Offline Elen

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« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2005, 06:07:29 PM »
Quote
I think it would be great if our child(ren) learn to speak Russian, and other languages as well. I know that children, when young, are entirely capable of learning more than one language simultaneously (English, Russian, and even another). Still, I am wondering how this issue has worked out in other Russian-American families.
 It is not such easy task like it seems. Children learn and speak (any) language only when they have a need in that:? Without such need it will demand rather much efforts from  your wife to keep your future children to speak Russian ( to learn them write on Russian sometmes becomes impracticable task:?)

Offline Bruno

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« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2005, 10:28:29 PM »
Elen have right... Anastacia at 9 yo speak very good French, Dutch, and Russian... but she is only able to read and write Dutch... she have no interest to read other languages... about slow down the learning process, no problem, she was always the first of his class :):):)

Offline BC

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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2005, 03:15:40 AM »
Young kids and languages are like bread and butter.

I wouldn't worry at all about kids being able to pick up a new language quickly.  Our daughter after one year was speaking, reading and writing Italian better than I can and getting straight 'A's' in school.  She is now learning english and French. My son also immigrated here and did quite well.

We use English, Russian, Italian, German regularly in our house and have no real common language we all can speak fluently so is quite a mix.  

Offline Elen

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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2005, 03:53:01 AM »
There is less problems with learning foreign language you have to use every day then to learn (or not to forget) a language which only your mother speaks with you at:? (especially in the case with small children.) A set of problems includes a lot of things - from increased percent of kids with  stammer problems to just "protests"  of teens to speak at "your" language)

I'm not about it is impossible task to learn "american" kid to speak Russian rather good but about it would demand twice effords from mom to do that (poems, songs, fair tales books, films, cartoons and so on - all should be in double mesure:D Let add here an every week lessons of Russian grammer (with child's screams - Ya ne budu - ya ne hachoooo) and you would figurate out what waits for you in future):P

 
« Last Edit: April 24, 2005, 03:54:00 AM by Elen »

Offline BC

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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2005, 04:19:39 AM »
Elen,

We've mad it a habit to order RU school books each year and order a LOT of RU books to read.  IMHO reading is one of the best ways to keep up and improve language/knowledge.

Offline Elen

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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2005, 04:42:57 AM »
And what"" There is no problems to set your children to study Russian after they come from their "main" school? If there is no problems then you have an angels but not kids:D

( My "talks"are all from my friend's life experience.  She moved to Japane with her russian husband 13 years ago with 6 y.o (in those times) daughter. Their younger son was born in Japan (now he is 9 years old) Both children speak very good at Russian (as at home they hear only Russian speach) though there are a LOT of words wich just "sliped" from their lexicon. and they have a need to ask for sinonyms when they talk to us.  But when they have a need to WRITE something they do that only with a help of hieroglyphs:shock::shock::shock:

Their grandmom (a former teacher at school) is at an edge of heart atack each time she sees what they do with Russian grammer when they manage to write something at Russian:D

And it was always some "fights" when their mom tried to place them at Russian school books (the result is they have a very odd representation about georgaphy and history of Russia and would never pass an exam even in 5th class:?)

Offline ConnerVT

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« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2005, 05:40:45 AM »
While folk's ideas on the subject seem good, Elen's remarks are the most accurate as far as I have experienced.

For our son, who arrived in the US with a ten word English vocabulary --  His English has improved dramatically, with his English literacy nearly leading his class at school.  But besides his mother's attempts, his Russian language skills have barely moved forward in over 1 year's time.  They converse mostly in Russian, she attempts to have him practice reading in writing in Russian, but a 6 yo boy can be stubborn.

But not as stubborn as a two yo girl, as is our neighbor's daughter.  Her mother is from Poland, and speaks to her when at home mostly in Polish.  The daughter understands what her mother says, but insists on always answering in English.  Have you ever tried to reason logically with a two year old?  :shock:

I think to successfully have a bilingual child, you need to make it interesting for the child, and they need to be surrounded by the environment frequently.  Our son will be with us this summer in Russia, where we will be having a teacher work/play with him several morning each week.  Her primary goal is to improve his Russian language skills.  I'll let you know this fall how well it works out...
« Last Edit: April 24, 2005, 05:41:00 AM by ConnerVT »

Offline TigerPaws

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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2005, 06:53:06 AM »
 I will chime in quickly as we are about to sail to another anchorage in a few hours.

 Our daughter is about to turn 3 and speaks both Russian and English seamlessly, my wife speaks to her almost exclusively in Russian and we have Russian childrens books as well as other Russian language learning aids. I speak to our daughter in both English and Russian, she dose not see any difference between the two languages and dose not stutter (Elen is full of sh*t once again). We will continue to teach her both languages as seamlessly as possible with an added emphasis on Russian because once she enters school in a couple of years she will hear and learn only English and we want her to be well grounded in Russian before that.

 Of course we visit Russia at least twice a year, my wife and daughter usually stay about a month at a time which is a real help in our daughter learning Russian. There is nothing like total immersion in a language to assist in the learning process.

 

Offline Elen

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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2005, 07:39:06 AM »
Quote
Elen is full of sh*t once again).
 The only one who is full of sh*t is you with your ignorance . Let go and ask any logopedist about such problem with be-language kids.

 And if you bother to read what I wrote then you would see I spoke not about ALL kids but about increased persents among those kids with such problem.[/size][/color][/font]
« Last Edit: April 24, 2005, 11:35:00 AM by Elen »

Offline ConnerVT

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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2005, 09:16:56 AM »
I will again come to Elen's defence on this subject.  Tigerpaws bashed Elen while at the same time stating exactly what I said to support her in my previous post.

You are fortunate that, at 3, your child is speaking both languages "seamlessly".  Of course, I will also assume that your child's language skills are approximately those of a three year old's.  But then, my Russian is also just about that level.

My son will be seven in August.  His English, non-existent 14 months ago, is now that of a 7 yo.  His Russian has stayed stagnant, or has actually atrophied some.  Your daughter has had the benefit of "total immersion" for a significant percentage of her most formative years.  I hope that my son will benefit from his upcoming eight week stay in Russia.  But most people will not be able to benefit from this type of situation.

There are many documented cases which a child's development has been impeded by two languages being spoken in their home.  I'm not a phycologist, but it is not difficult to see that the individual involved and many factors of their environment can make the results vary greatly.

Offline Bruno

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« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2005, 09:40:31 AM »
And me, i am between Tiger and Elen... Anastasia have no problem about speak two language ( in her case, three languages... )... problem have come after, around eight year old, when she have need learn grammatic... she speak, read and write Dutch... she speak and read russian ( cannot write )... and she speak French ( cannot read and write )...

Speaking a language is enough easy with immersion but you don't learn read, write and grammatic with immersion... same the brain of child have some limit...

The case of tiger is a little more easy... he is retired and his wife don't work... they have a lot of time for help the child... but, usual people work and have only some limit in the time used for help the child...

Offline Elen

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« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2005, 11:05:45 AM »
How old was Anastacia when she start to learn three languges and does she speak Russian now?

Offline Bruno

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« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2005, 11:18:45 AM »
She was a little more that 3 year old... and she have no more of ten year... and speak russian... but after our divorce, my ex-wife have wish send back Anastasia in Russia during 1 year for follow russian school, and learn read and write russian... but the child have not show interest in this, she have begin hate school... after three month, she was back in Belgium...

What have really help Anastassia for learn more vocabulary in russian language was the sumer holliday : 2 month in Russia with the grand-father and grand-mother... speak was needed for game with other children... and for Anastassia, read and write was not needed...

She have wish learn French because she was very happy to speak ( with me without her mother understand something ) ... and Anastassia have learn me some russian words and phrases in Russian... :D

Offline Leslie

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« Reply #15 on: April 24, 2005, 01:06:51 PM »
Well Journeyman my wife and I face exactly the same decision as you.  I have read all the posts on this thread and no one offers ANY alternative to trying to develop both languages. 

Are there any married guys here who have insisted that their children only speak their language?  

Is there any guy who posts here who would make this demand on their future wife?? 

Are there any married women here who would agree with such a decision???

If you marry a woman from another culture you are in  a cross cultural marriage. 

NEGATING YOUR WIFE'S CULTURE IS NOT AN OPTION!

Of course children do not magically become bilingual.  BC's advice is spot on.  I reckon it is all you can reasonably do as parents.  Adult level written skills in a language start to develop in the teenage years.  Teenagers make their own decisions!  Some second generation immigrants reject their "foreign" culture.  Others don't. 

 

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« Reply #16 on: April 24, 2005, 02:29:45 PM »
Quote from: Journeyman
My fiancee and I have been speaking about a lot of things regarding the future -- the most recent issue being the matter of what language(s) we should speak with our future children.  

Currently, she feels that, when she is alone with our future child, she should speak Russian. On the other hand, she says she would speak English to everybody when I or others are present.  She always speaks English with me, except she will receive my help in Russian when she does not know how to say or hear something in English.  She wants to learn to speak English better, of course, and so it is possible that her feelings might change also.

I think it would be great if our child(ren) learn to speak Russian, and other languages as well.  I know that children, when young, are entirely capable of learning more than one language simultaneously (English, Russian, and even another).  Still, I am wondering how this issue has worked out in other Russian-American families.  

Any insights to offer?

Journeyman  :)


I've lived in quite a number of different countries and worked in many more. I've witnessed many cross-cultural couples with children, including one guy who married a Ukrainian girl and they stayed in Ukraine and now have two sons.

My perspective is that teaching children more than one language is ESSENTIAL in today's shrinking world - and it would be a crime to deprive a child of the natural ability to learn languages while young.

In our case, Olya speaks almost exclusively to Katya in Russian. I speak to her in an odd mix of bad Russian and English. Katya seems to understand both of us quite easily and in her attempts to speak, she selects the easier of the two possible words. Quite cute to see.

For us, it is important that Katya speak and understand Russian as that is the only language spoken by her grandparents and other Ukrainian family members. It is important for her to speak, understand, read and write English, as that is where her education will be earned, and more than likely, where she will spend the vast majority of her life.

I also have a young son who has a delayed speech problem. He is not the fruit of my marriage with Olya, hence, the bi-lingual issue never entered into things. What caused his speech delay is anyone's guess, but the likelihood is it came from having 4 older siblings in the home (no, not all my children) who would often finish sentences for him. As he approaches 5 years old, the problems is abating significantly.

Just my $.02 - FWIW.

- Dan

Offline jb

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« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2005, 03:02:52 PM »
On this topic, while I was living in South America I met a strange couple; he was from Sweden, she was Japanese, neither spoke the other's native language and they conversed in English.  They had young twin sons, both boys spoke to their mother in Japanese, to their father they spoke Swedish, and when they played in the yard they spoke Spanish to each other, and when I was in the home they spoke English to me.

I thought it was incredible.

Offline Elen

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« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2005, 06:57:50 PM »
Quote
I also have a young son who has a delayed speech problem. He is not the fruit of my marriage with Olya, hence, the bi-lingual issue never entered into things

Stummering has a LOT of reasones. But bi-language IS one of them - when kids begin to delay with choice of words at one of language and then it very fast became a "habit" in the cases with small kids (mostly 2-4 years old) That's all what I wanted to say - a possible but not obligatory problem.

Offline Journeyman

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« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2005, 06:59:05 PM »
Thank you everybody for your thoughtful responses to my  question about languages.

I am really pleased to have found this discussion board, and to exchange thoughts with its members.  Definitely, a cut above the other boards (IMHO).  :)

Journeyman

Offline BC

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« Reply #20 on: April 25, 2005, 02:04:18 AM »
Elen,

Having grown up multi-lingual, there are times where I guess I do stumble over words.. mostly mental blocks or spouting out a 'foreign' word that better 'fits' the thought. Not really stuttering but similar.

The real trick in learning a foreign language is being able to think (and even dream) in the particular language. The more you experience the culture and mentality of the people speaking a language the better you will come across.

It's sort of like machine translation.. without being able to think in a language your brain is constantly translating and reordering words, very much like a computer.. and a lot of nuances are lost.

Kids that grow up bi or multilingual seem to develop the ability to 'think' in other languages much easier, thus even later in life have an easier time picking up a new language.

The benefits of being able to speak a foreign language greatly outweighs minor temporary speech defects








Offline Elen

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« Reply #21 on: April 25, 2005, 03:06:47 AM »
It is all right but I just have an oppotunity to witness how language of mother is slow slipping away right in the case with children but not with adults:? if they vist Russia only one month in year (even if at home both parents speak only on Russian)

Offline ConnerVT

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« Reply #22 on: April 25, 2005, 04:16:12 AM »
I think some of us are missing the point, or at least, reading more in to Elen's comments than what she wrote.  No one is saying that raising a child to be bilingual is a bad thing.  I think we agree it is a benefit.

But it is not without its difficulties.  To learn more than one subject at a time means that less effort is dedicated to any one subject.  But more importantly, as adults we must understand that it is impossible to make any child do as we wish.  Children can possess a level of stubbornness that only a parent can fully appreciate.  :P

At best, all we can do is put the resources out there for the young ones, and do our best to encourage them and nurture them.  And perhaps, things may turn out as we hope (or better...). :)

Offline jb

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« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2005, 04:34:28 AM »
Fred, Conner.....

Do you remember the conversation we had years ago about the O.J. Simpson trial?

Well, I finally found the answer,,,


Online 2tallbill

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« Reply #24 on: March 20, 2021, 08:46:44 AM »
Bump

Angel Eyes talks to Mini Me in Russian and I talk to him in English.
He attends a Russian dance class and a Russian arts and crafts class
twice per week where only Russian is spoken by the teachers and students.

He is in Kindergarten and he knows the English and Cyrillic alphabets.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2021, 12:55:41 PM by 2tallbill »
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