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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat 9999's Avatar
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    Educating a child from birth to be bi-lingual

    Thought some of you guys who have raised kids and made families over here can help me out on this one.

    In a few months the missus will be popping out a baby girl.

    We plan to eventually settle in Australia and maintain close connections to Thailand and visit frequently.

    From the little I've read, it should be English only with me and Thai only with Mum. Also watching TV or listening to music with Mum alone should be in Thai and anything together or with me should be in English.

    Just thinking about the first stages here. I know a child starts to learn language as soon as they're born and want to get it right from the starts. Any tips from personal experience would be most appreciated.

    The other approach would be to use English only with both parents, and just pick up Thai from the world around her. But then she'll pick up bad habits from Mum and won't end up with a cool Aussie accent.

  2. #2
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    One point to remember.

    Developing two languages in parallel takes longer on average, so don't worry if she does not speak when you think she should. It will come with time but processing two languages can take longer.

  3. #3
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    Interesting points. AO would be a good one to chime in.

  4. #4
    sabaii sabaii
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    There was someone on here who had trouble with their kid stuttering, he thought it was because the child was learning two languages

    If you are going to settle in Aus, just teach her English.

    Let her learn Thai when she gets older, if she wants

    Congratulations by the way

  5. #5
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    Don't force it, remember kids take a good 12 to 18 months to get to grips with the basic patterns of a single language, the kid will pick up on whichever language she finds easiest first, and by using both languages in their usual environments, english with you, thai with mum, will learn the tonal nuances of both languages and be primed for when she hits the super inquisitive language learning period from 30 months on. If learning is a game and praise is the reward, she will do well at both languages.
    Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

  6. #6
    Mid
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo
    If learning is a game and praise is the reward, she will do well
    There it is

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat BigRed's Avatar
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    It will happen whatever you plan to some extent. My 6 yr old has lived in the UK all her life and the wife normally speaks English but with Thai TV via the internet and the wife speaking to friends she can understand Thai although she rarely speaks it. She was a late developer but is now known as a chatterbox at school.

  8. #8
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    Won't be a problem mate brought my daughter back here when she was 4 spoke mostly talalog in the PI except when talking to me, in oz she had to speak english at school and with friends etc.and a bit of tagalog with her mum. She's 24 now and still speaks fluent tagalog and speaks english with a broad aussie accent.
    When we are back in the PI her family there says she speaks tagalog with an aussie accent so it's all good.

  9. #9
    Gohills flip-flops wearer
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    Educating kids from birth to be bi-lingual is a very bold move, and i wish you well.
    Buying both boys and girls clothes could prove to be very expensive, but at least when they are adults they will be able to make a choice based on informed opinion.

  10. #10
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    My son will soon be 1 year old and he has been mostly around his Thai Mom and relatives, so he will learn Thai as a first language. I do want him to learn English and will help him with that along with him watching English cartoons and TV. The wife is trying to help with his English, but rather she leave that up to me and the little one. There is a good chance he may spend some time in the States and will pick up English quicker than the current learning curve.
    Bottom line is that he will eventually be bilingual and time is not a factor. I am not a teacher, but would think your environment will dictate which is a first language and which is a second. My hope is that he will also learn Chinese, but that remains to be seen. A couple of good schools are trilingual in Udon which would be my choice. As has been mentioned, don't rush it and it will happen as long as the right exposure to each language occurs.

  11. #11
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    Congratulations
    bet she will be a beauty

  12. #12
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    ^^Mate kids are like sponges when they are young you will be suprised how easy they pick up languages.

  13. #13
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    The answer to the op from a cognitive psycholinguistic side is: nobody really knows...

    But, as said above, it's natural. After six or so, neurons in the brain which may be used for language start to die out if they are not used, and it is harder to learn new language skills thereafter. So, don't leave it too late, but let it be natural... Even if they learn Thai at first, they can pick up English quickly and easily when they are 3 or so; they'll probably overtake their Thai in some areas by the time they are 5, especially with regard to maths or any reading skills; Thai isn't very easy to learn in these areas whereas English seems as easy as most languages...

    Good luck.
    How do I post these pictures???

  14. #14
    splendid and tremendous
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    My 2 year old is picking up both fairly quickly although sentences are only coming in Thai..but she's already managed to differentiate between mum and dad's lingo - she'll ask me for her 'shoes' but ask her mum for her 'tau', ask me to 'open' something and ask mum to 'bpert' something.
    I've soley spoken to both my daughters in English since their births but am begginning to become more inclined to give them 100 per cent exposure to Thai as this is where they will do their intial growing up - but everything seems to click into place, even with pikey fucking parents who don'tgive two shits about their kids.

    Congrats, 9999..

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat aging one's Avatar
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    Okay nat, here is my two cents worth. I am raising twin daughters here. My way of helping them to be bi lingual and now tri lingual was this. From birth they spoke only English. Even the goo goo and gah gah's were in English. No Thai at all was used except for what they heard as background noise.
    The wife used English as did the nanny we had.

    The nanny had some experience in English but we made up laminated sheets for all things of the day in English with the Thai translations. Eating, Bathing, Nature, Bike, Toys, Books, Eating, all was done in English until the age of 5 when they were placed in Thai Pratom 1. They could not understand a word for a bit but within a few months were speaking Thai. With in a year they could read and write it as well.

    So they went through pratom in a Thai environment. It was a small school that was more into making good humans than mindless clones, so we were lucky there.

    They then went two years to a government EP program school where they learned English, Literature, Science, Math, and IT in English. The curriculum was great through a company called BFITS. All new McGraw Hill texts, and a good daily syllabus and curriculum. But we noticed the Thai side was so weak. During this time they had also progressed through basic Mandarin.,

    They were invited to test for an academic scholarship by the Harrow school here, and were granted the scholarship. All we could get 50% each as they are twins. They do not have to take the Thai language component as they score too high already.

    People who have met them that speak English do hear a strong American accent, and the Thai;s hear a strong Central Thai accent.

    But the bottom line is today I take them and pay the final fees to enter the Harrow School in August. While they wait they study intensive Mandarin as that will be one of the courses they test for at pgsce, to go to the 6th form.

    I feel very lucky to have two kids bilingual and very close to trilingual these days. Nat has known them since they were about 4 and watched the process, last saw her over dinner a couple of months ago. Marmers knows them from a younger age, before he moved up into deep Isaan.

    They just came back from a month in the states and kept a killer blog in English of all they did and experienced. If anybody would like to see it just pm me. Or for further information.


    One warning your inlaws will hate you until the kids start to speak Thai, but when they do they change from hate to envy very very quickly.

  16. #16
    Valve Master Latindancer's Avatar
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    I observed a friend in Australia bring up 2 daughters. He's married to a Taiwanese lady and he used English; she used Mandarin.
    I had read that the children would mix up the two languages almost till school age, and that was in fact what happened. Now they still live in Oz but can't read or write Mandarin, but speak it very well.
    Don't worry if your kids can't separate the languages till 5 yrs old.

  17. #17
    Thailand Expat reinvented's Avatar
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    mines 3
    we speak to her in english
    wife speaks to her in thai sometimes
    she's also learning chinese
    her thai is stronger as she uses it more
    but here english whilst not perfect is 99% and she prefers to use it at home

    if your missus speaks english fluently have her speak english to her as she will be exposed to plenty of Thai anyway
    mines coming along well in chinese also but its a distanat 3rd
    we won it at wemberlee
    we on it in gay paree...

  18. #18
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobo746
    speaks english with a broad aussie accent.
    My heartfelt condolence.

  19. #19
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    ^ Thanks mate She turned out great pretty & smart even with me for an old man.

  20. #20
    Tonguin for a beer Bung's Avatar
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    Whatever you do don't speak Thaiglish to her, you will have a hell of a time getting her out of that.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9999
    he other approach would be to use English only with both parents, and just pick up Thai from the world around her. But then she'll pick up bad habits from Mum and won't end up with a cool Aussie accent.
    English, English, English!
    Despite Thai being perfect for conversing with a toddler.

    Quote Originally Posted by aging one
    One warning your inlaws will hate you until the kids start to speak Thai, but when they do they change from hate to envy very very quickly.
    Fuck 'em.

  22. #22
    Thailand Expat superman's Avatar
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    My child is more conversant in English than she is Thai. This is because we only speak English in the house, including my wife.
    If she's sitting watching TV and we've accidentally left the language in Thai, she will come and get us to switch it to English. She does speak Thai but only at school. She's 3 & a half.
    Death is natures way of telling you to slow down.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bung
    Whatever you do don't speak Thaiglish to her
    That will knock out half the TEFLers then

  24. #24
    Thailand Expat 9999's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the replies, and valuable information. Good to know I'm on the right track. I would really like it, if she's totally bi-lingual in Thai and English by 8 or so, to go and learn Mandarin. This would open a lot of doors for her future.

    On the English only line, I see the merits, main thing is picking up Tinglish from Mum which I've been trying to beat of of her for the last 2 years. Also the point above - being fluent in several languages can only be benificial, as useless as Thai may be on the world stage.

    Thanks again everyone and greens on the way when I got some more ammo

  25. #25
    Thailand Expat 9999's Avatar
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    Just remembering a few occasions in the shopping malls etc, where I've seen farangs blokes speaking pidgin Thai with their young kids. Up to them how they raise their kids but personally I definitely don't think this is the way to go in terms of providing a bright future for your child.

    I've also seen a bit of Farang blokes speaking pidgin / Tinglish with their kids. I also disagree with this. AFAIK speaking correct English with a child is the only way to go. In fact I try my best to speak correct English with all Thais when using English, but often resort to tinglish coz it's easier for both parties. But in these cases I'm not concerned about the future lingual well being of the person I'm speaking with.

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