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  1. #1
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    Default First language not English

    Both DH and I are non native english speakers, so have always talked with our DD in our own language. She is now 17 months old. But we have exposed her to a lot of English as well-reading books to her from when she was just a month old, taking her to meet english speaking friends, playgroups etc. As you can well imagine, residing in Aus, she has always had a fair exposure of English. And we also sometimes repeat sentences in English and she can understand a lot of words like go, come, eat,sleep, body parts etc.
    We have wanted her to learn her mother tongue, and as many books/websites have told me, she will pick up English in her own time.

    But lately I am having doubts whether it is the right approach- relatives telling me that we should speak only in English with her else she will have speech delays. Right now, she just babbles a lot, with an occasional mama, dada,etc. No well formed words. People tell me she should be speaking by now. And that she will lag behind others her age years hence(by the time she goes to school).

    Sorry for the long post, but need inputs on what should we do? Continue speaking to her in our first language or switch to English completely?

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    Keep speaking your native language!

    You're giving your child something so valuable by raising her to speak two languages. It will help her to connect with her family and history, as well as helping her language development. Speaking more than one language is also incredibly beneficial in all kinds of other learning.

    I'm one of the many Australians who only speak English. It's not the 'normal' state of humans, to only speak one language. If I could pass on another language to my children I would in a heartbeat. Please don't doubt yourself!

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  4. #3
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    Default First language not English

    Hi! We're in the same situation, DH and I are non English native. We try and only speak to our kids in our own language.

    It is one of the best gift you can give your child. It's amazing in terms of brain development, it makes them better problem solver, quicker to make decision, and better learners all round.

    I just went to a conference on bilingualism and one just wonder why all kids aren't taught bilingualism - at least in major city.

    I'll try and link some material for you.

    Biggest hurdle to bilingualism is others opinions. You need to be strong and know that what you do is best, then just keep at it. Smile and nod and do your thing.

    Also I will add that bilingualism shouldn't delay language. It's just that her number of words will be split between 2 languages so she'll seem less advance than mono language kids.
    Ie at 18mo they might have 50 words all in English whereas your DD will have some in English and some in her other language but still 50 words in total.
    You'd think she's behind when in fact she's ahead and her language will catch other mono language kids in no time.

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    Lifesgood29  (05-12-2016)

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    All current research supports ensuring that your child's home language is celebrated and encouraged. You are doing absolutely nothing wrong.

    The problem comes when a child doesn't have a firm grasp of EITHER/ANY language. For example it isn't considered a speech delay if she speaks at a 17 month old level in your home language, even if she isn't quite as competent in English. You're right in that she will pick up English eventually from being in Australia, but it will be considerably more difficult for her to master if she doesn't have the speaking and listening skills in her home language, so just keep an eye out.

    She's lucky! And even more so if she has parents who are proficient in English and can support her in that if she does stumble and make errors. You'd be amazed at how quickly they can pick up English as a second/additional language in their early childhood!

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    My colleagues and I were just taking about how valuable being bilingual is last week, I only speak English and they both speak at least one other language. They've helped out with non-English speaking clients in the past and have had other instances of it being really valuable to have another language. So please keep it up!

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    Thank you so much all. You all have just reaffirmed my belief and that i should continue doing what I am. Thanks again!

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    EXcusmyfrench, would love the links/reference material. Thanks!

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    You can start here, it's a blog on raising kids bilingual and it's packed with ideas.

    There's a forum as well for parents but I haven't used it yet

    http://bilingualmonkeys.com/this-is-...lingual-child/

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    Lifesgood29  (09-12-2016)

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    Don't give up though!

    I'm fighting for my kids to keep up with their French... It's their minority language because they were born here and go to Childcare here.
    If I give up they will soon give up on that language too. It's too easy for them to only speak English. They've realised they don't need to speak French since their parents understand English... So they understand us but they reply in English.

    In a couple of weeks I will start a Saturday school in French. I've rallied similar bilingual families in my area and our kids will learn to play read and write in French. I think it's important for them to realise that this is not just their parents language but other ppl speak it too.

    So keep it up, don't worry about English it is their main language so your job is to teach them about the minority language.

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    Lifesgood29  (09-12-2016)

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    As someone who can only speak one language, I'd keep going as you are!

    I've heard it's common for children in bilingual environments to show some evidence of language delay but my understanding is that that's because they have double the amount to learn. How could they not?

    Having two languages will serve your child so so well in the future.

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