A small question (to any experienced) I have in my mind with my Chinese wife due to give birth in about 4 or so weeks is this....
With me (obviously) and my Chinese wife both speaking English at home but everyone else around us speaking Chinese (family, friends etc) will the child learn both languages easy enough or will it just be the home language that stands out? We see family most days for meals so plenty of Chinese language around.
Any kind of thoughts on this would be appreciated :)
I had a friend in Chengdu (gone back to USA now) who had 2 children with his totally bilingual Chinese wife. David was also totally bilingual.
Mother spoke Chinese to the two boys, father spoke English, kids were totally bilingual.
I was told that at a very early age the children will just absorb the 2 sets of words and not even know (or care) they are from 2 languages - that will just get sorted out later. In the beginning it's just 2 words with the same meaning.
They won't magically learn both languages fluently if at some point you don't teach them the writing and reading especially. Many people in America are illiterate though they can speak and understand with no problems at all but ask them to write or read something and they can't. So my advice is to play an active role in schooling them.
Having each parent speak a different language is a popular approach. However, it's definitely not the most efficient.
I picked up 'The Bilingual Edge: Why, When and How to Teach Your Child a Second Language' written by two Ph.D. professors of linguistics at Georgetown University, and it goes a lot further than this approach, by talking about recent research, differences between girls and boys, older and younger siblings, different types of learners, aptitude, socialization in different cultures, modes of interaction, whether or not you can use TV or media to successfully teach language, etc.
You are welcome to borrow it when I'm done with it but you may like to buy your own copy. You'll get a lot more well founded information than online hearsay.
I agree, but reading and writing don't come in the first few years. For listening it should come immediately after birth. Reading children's books could start around the same age.
I had a friend in Canada who would go out of his way to find the same book in multiple languages for his children. Very young children can associate a picture with a word (which is why beginning readers are picture books), so adding the written word with the spoken word would help with that later association.
Voltaire has a lot of good points. My niece actually learned to speak French from watching Sesame Street (Canada, eh).
They have plenty of bilingual flashcards and even electronic games that focus on learning. You would be surprise how much they can learn from these things as long as you play with them.
Kinda matters what country they will grow up in, that's kinda a BIG factor in what language not to worry about as they will just pick it up from being alive there, and watching whatever children's show is on, like AlPage48 mentioned.
young kids e.g. infants actually pick up (not learn) both,or more, languages effortless.
it's a communucative tool from our ancestors.
the only thing you need is, the child to expose it (actively) to the languages(and not just playing movies while you take a nap).
when they reach a certain age and level, they need more help, especially reading and writing.
our kid is trilingual without any help but exposure.
i dunno what linguistics phd's say but psychologists know that as a fact.
but sounds like voltaires book could be really helpful.
My mum is Czech, my father Russian. My Czech was much better when I was living in CR and going to school, then Russian was better when we moved back to Russia and I was going to RU school . My father was quite forcing me to speak to him only in Rus lang, but no matter how much He insisted ( slaping me for speaking to him in Czech ), my Russian still wasn't that good until we moved back to Russia. Cant say about Cn-Eng, coz difference is much bigger, but as somebody said here: Dominating lang would be always country's lang where the child lives, goes to school, has a friends etc. If u put him/her into some laowai school where all kids speak Eng. then result might be different.