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If my child leaves the foreign mission field at age 6, what is the likelihood that he will keep his foreign language?

asked 2015-06-18 22:40:55 -0400

MissionaryFamily gravatar image

updated 2015-07-03 23:23:48 -0400

Details: We are an English speaking missionary family in a Spanish speaking field. Our 5 year old goes to a full immersion bi-lingual school & speaks Spanish well with his classmates. This next year as a 6 year old, he will begin reading & writing in both English & Spanish in his bi-lingual school. Unfortunately, it looks like we'll be leaving the field at the end of his 6 year old school year. We highly desire our son's retention of his second language skills & we'd like him to be able to read and write in it fluently as an adult. But, we are concerned... We could maybe squeeze out one extra year at our mission point, so he could have his 7 year old school year in our mission country as well. We just don't know how much of a difference it would make?

If my child leaves the foreign mission field at age 6, what is the likelihood that he will keep his foreign language? Is it worth trying to stay an extra year for him linguistically (so he's 7)? How much of a difference would it make?

Of course, we'll try to supplement his foreign language learning State-side, but it's not the same as everyone around him talking a foreign language all the time.

We're just two parents trying to make an informed decision.

Your thoughts are highly appreciated!

Love & thanks!

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answered 2015-08-05 14:11:16 -0400

annawhite gravatar image

The Ask-a-Linguist FAQ contains several pages with in-depth information about bilingual/multilingual children and child language acquisition. You can find these pages here:

I hope you may find these resources useful.

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Asked: 2015-06-18 22:40:55 -0400

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Last updated: Aug 05 '15