Google+ Raising a Trilingual Child: Trilingual Siblings Minority Language Progress Update. The Younger Sibling Is About to Enter Preschool.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Trilingual Siblings Minority Language Progress Update. The Younger Sibling Is About to Enter Preschool.

My not yet fully trilingual daughter is 3 now. A big change is coming to our multilingual family life this fall. She will join her brother at a preschool. I closed the eyes on my worries on how it can affect siblings' minority language development and asked to assigned her to a class that is located in the same wing of my son's school building. The preschool, my children go to, has two wings with separate internal playgrounds and one big shared external playground. During bad weather months my children will meet each other everyday for a joined play with peers. I could separate them for the sake of preserving their Russian-only speech relationship, but I did not do it. The time they will spend together playing, developing their brother-sister relationship stands above my ambitious wishes for their trilingualism.

From now on I’m going to keep a closer look at how the community affects their minority language development.

I would like to sum up their progress so far. I look at their language development from a bilingual child perspective, as their third language - English - is still behind their Italian (community language) and Russian (minority language), both of which they speak equally fluently.

Bilingual siblings speak minority language only.

No matter who is around and how far I am from my children, they speak only minority language to each other. They even speak Russian among themselves, when staying with Italian grandparents. If you are raising a bilingual child and expecting a second one, check this  7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings.

Bilingual siblings read in the minority language.

Yes! Both of them, 3 years old and 5 years old, are reading now! Literacy is the biggest milestone in child’s development that will help him at school and in life. No stress at all. I just started early and followed these 7 simple principles to teach a child to read before school.

Planning ahead and adjusting our family language strategy
You would say: “Your children speak your heritage language to each other. It is a success.” And I would agree, that it is, so far. It proofs the importance of good planning ahead and not missing on any opportunity to expose your child to your heritage language.

When your child is born ( and even before), it is a good idea to think what your child’s language environment would be for at least next 5 years. So you can concentrate on the “right” language in the right time.

There are many things that you can not predict. In my case I found it extremely hard to stick to my plan after the birth of our second child. There was a pretty long period when both kids remained babies, because the jealousy kept the older one from growing up and acting as a toddler he was. I had to deal with issues that mothers of monolingual, bilingual or trilingual siblings deal, when their kids are very close in age. Those of you who had to go through it, know what I am talking about.
Constant plan adjustments are necessary throughout the multilingual family journey.

Do you have multilingual siblings? How was it for you when they were little?

If you would like to share your family experience, whatever it is good or bad, feel free to contact me.

Are you successfully raising bilingual or multilingual children? or do you have regrets about something you have not done on time? Please do not keep it for yourself, share it with other parents, by writing a comment or by contacting me for an Interview or by joining great contributors in the Life Story series. You will help thousands of readers!

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1 comment:

  1. In our family French is the mother language (minority), German the father language (community) and English the parents' language (passive for the children). Both children stayed at home until they turned 3yo (actually my son is still home, going in Feb. to the Kindergarten). French was always very strong with my daughter, German was a little weak until her brother was born, then her Dad was two months at home and she improved. Since then both languages have an equal quality (very good), but she uses German more since she goes to the Kindergarten, and since that moment the two siblings have started using German in their games more than French. Even in France. Amusingly, at their German grand-parents' they use a lot of French. Is it because they do not necessarily want to be understood? ;)
    My son developed a very good command of both languages from the start. And now they are both having fun trying to use some English. They understand quite a bit of it, but we have no way of knowing how much.

    I find it fascinating to observe my children's linguistic development! So much fun!

    And by the way, I totally sympathise with you on the difficulties of raising two children with little age difference. Mine were 17 months apart.