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Quadrilingual Children

asked 2015-05-13 04:54:30 -0500

Elly gravatar image

My children (6&4 yrs old) are struggling to keep all their 4 languages going. English has taken precedence as we live in London and it's the language everyone in the family has in common. Dad provides English & Urdu, I provide Japanese & Spanish. I'm working hard at keeping spanish going (my mother tongue) but my question is: when/at what age shall I crack down on their 3rd language (my second) Japanese, as I really want them both to be fluent. At the moment they have a good basic understanding of it, but that's it, they don't have any vocabulary.

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answered 2015-05-13 09:54:37 -0500

I'm not sure if there's a particular age you should "crack down" on their third language, but what I saw helping my young half siblings (same age as your children), also quadriligual, was dedicated playtime and interaction with a native French babysitter who would come to the house a few hours a week, specifically for interaction in French. Watching DVDs in their target languages was also helpful for vocabulary and language building.

Perhaps you could find a Japanese native graduate student in London who could spend at least a few hours a week playing and interacting with your kids? And perhaps you could find them Japanese friends their own age to interact with through a social group. Japanese DVDs could also be helpful, if they don't do that already. I think the key is to find a third person or set of people to associate and use the language with, since they know it's not necessary for communication at home.

Good luck!

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answered 2015-05-14 02:18:49 -0500

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I would suggest to start as soon as possible. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! When we lived in England, my mother lagged a bit on speaking Japanese (her native language), getting my brother and I started on Farsi (my father's native language) and English first. Unfortunately, now our Japanese suffers a bit. We are even more fluent in French, somehow. It's a shame. ASAP is all I can say! :)

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answered 2015-05-15 09:22:52 -0500

Elly gravatar image

Thanks for the replies. Great ideas Chloediego, about having a student spend time with them,& putting them in a setting where they have no choice but to use their skills. As for the timing, I think you're right with the ASAP! I probably knew deep down but have been too caught up in teaching them their spanish. I have done a lot of the Japanese CDs, DVDs, nursery etc so their basic understanding is actually not that bad, they're just unable to respond in Japanese. Right, so thanks for the advice and I will crack on with the 'teaching' .... I hope I can squeeze in some free play time too. ;-)

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Asked: 2015-05-13 04:54:30 -0500

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Last updated: May 15 '15