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How can I help to increase the vocabulary of my child in English?

asked 2016-06-02 08:36:16 -0400

muer gravatar image

I've been reading many articles related to multilingual child in this website. I would like to post our situation and seek some advises.

We are a trilingual family living in a 4th country. I and my husband has totally different mother tongues and we communicate in English. We are relatively fluent in English but our vocabulary is quite limited. Our son was born in US and lived there till he was about 3. We noticed that he learned many words that we didn't know at that time already. Then we moved to a 4th country about 2 years ago. So now our child speaks 4 languages. We notice that he still gets some new English words from time to time, but much slower than before. Concerning that he feels most comfortable to speak English and it is also our family communication language, I really would like to keep it up as (one of) his mother tongue. So I have 2 questions: 1) How many language can a person master at the level of mother tongue? 2) How to help him to increase his vocabulary pool?

Thanks a lot!

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answered 2016-06-14 20:23:26 -0400

1) This is hard to answer. Research has shown that bilinguals have more limited vocabulary in each of their language, but their total lexicon is greater than that of a monolingual. Also, language is like a muscle in the sense that if it is not used, it can atrophy. It is well documented that children can have a heritage language as their first language, yet exposure to the majority language can eventually result in more facility and ease in the majority language. Your child can certainly master two or three languages, but is unlikely to have equal dominance in all three. Native-like phonology is best acquired in the early years.

2) The more your child is engaged in using English actively (not just watching English language tv), the more he will acquire it. To maximize his exposure to English, it would be great to find English speaking peers, an English speaking speech community, and, if age appropriate, English literacy.

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Asked: 2016-06-02 08:36:16 -0400

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Last updated: Jun 02 '16