sábado, março 19, 2016

Vatertag/Father's Day/Dia do Pai: 2nd and 3rd Language Acquisition

(My middle daughter is learning German now...Soon I'll have someone to speak German with...)

(My youngest does not really speak, but he's already hearing three languages at home...Here we can see he's also gifted with the pencil...)

(My toddler painting... "the perils" of being a Picasso...)

Je früher, desto einfacher! 
Eine zweite und dritte Sprache ist eine erstklassige Investition für Kinder, weil Sprachen bei der Entwicklung des Gehirns helfen, und die Kinder können auch leichter lernen. Kinder lernen neue Sozialfähigkeiten in der Praxis, sie lernen andere Lebensstile und Kulturen kennen und sogar neue Freunde...

My kids are 14, 10, and 1 and we started this process when the first two babies were still infants. I never directly taught them and they knew a lot through exposure. I tried to have them grow up in a bilingual home and I think they only benefited from the many-language exposure. I started with just simple phrases and I felt it was important to expose them at a young age to new languages. 

Simultaneous 2nd and 3rd language acquisition is great for young children.  At the time, some friends of mine told me that I was slowing down their Portuguese language acquisition by going down the bilingual path. This is NOT true. It's normal for children to "mix" the languages, when they are young having each sentence use words from both languages (I still do it; sometimes I want to say something in English, and what comes out is the German equivalent...), but what I saw and experienced was that this straightened itself out as they grew older and understood the mechanics of language better. My oldest daughter speaks English like a native. She wouldn't have if she hadn't learned English as a toddler. She was a bit late stringing words together, but she soon started getting the hang of it and spoke to me in English only and to my wife in Portuguese. 

I felt the important thing was to be consistent and not mix the languages. This meant I always spoke in English to my children and my wife in Portuguese irrespective of what language we spoke to each other. 

My aim was getting the best out of them. I think I was successful.

I still don't think I could have given them a greater gift. Now I have the chance to start this process all over again...

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