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4 year old not speaking very fluently
Thread poster: sholu
sholu
Galician to English
Oct 8, 2007

I have a 4 year old boy, he is very smart- he names the planets , he can read level 1 beginners books but he is not much of a great speaker. I mean he doesnt speak very fluently in English. We speak a different language (Tamil) at home, he has not picked up on that language also. If I talk with him in Tamil, he tries to reply in English only.

Iam really concerned, is there a way I can improve his English speaking abilities and start our own language Tamil with him


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cisternas  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
He is waiting... Oct 8, 2007

Actually he is absorbing Tamil and English. He will use the language when need it.
If he tries to answer you even in a different language, he is understanding what you are saying. Continue speaking in Tamil with him.


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:46
English to Arabic
+ ...
Focus on the language not spoken in your country of residence Oct 8, 2007

I may not be the best person to give advice here, because I haven't done a very good job in that regard myself. I did want my kids to grow up bilingually, so my husband and I spoke with them in a mixture of Arabic and English. But with them going to English playgroups and schools, with English-speaking friends etc., Arabic soon gave way to English.
My young son in particular was, like your son, not speaking fluently until the age of 5. He's still five now, and finally he has no problems making himself understood.
I think some kids find it harder than others to cope with more than one language at an early age, especially if they're both coming from you. The mistake I did was to put an emphasis on English in the early years, because I wanted them to integrate easily in preschool. When I then tried to make them talk to me in Arabic it was too late. What I should have done was to make our home an Arabic-only zone, with English being exclusively the language of playgroup and school.


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Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 14:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with Nesrin... Oct 9, 2007

NO English at home as far as possible, and just keep speaking your language with him. We are very strict at home with that and only speak to our girls (4 1/2 and 3) in Spanish and Hebrew. NO English tv at all, etc. only DVDs in those languages, and luckily they don't answer us in English, since they are used to using English only outside the house. Their English is excellent, completely fluent, as are their other two languages. They picked it up when they started nursery school. Of course, it depends on the child, and on how important it is to you. The child ought to also know how important your language is, and how much you love it, and love to hear them speaking it. My older daughter said to her friend (while I was spying) "my mom speaks English, but she feels happy in Hebrew".
Hang in there, and don;t give in, especially if you know he understands you.


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 13:46
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Non-native? Oct 9, 2007

Hi, Nesrin,

So your son speaks more English than Arabic?

I live in Mexico where people use Spanish. We can speak English and Italian at home with the children. Do you suggest to avoid the use of Spanish?



[Modificato alle 2007-10-09 02:23]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:46
English to Arabic
+ ...
Not sure! Oct 9, 2007

Yaotl Altan wrote:

I live in Mexico where people use Spanish. We can speak English and Italian at home with the children. Do you suggest to avoid the use of Spanish?


Hi Yaotl,

Is Spanish your native language? If so, I'm not so sure - my advice was mainly for families living in a country where their native language isn't spoken. Of course it's a good idea to teach your kid a second language from an early age, but I don't think it's a good idea to eliminate the use of your own native language at home.
As Juliana said, it's important for a child to feel how important your language is, so this has to come from you.
If they're already going to an English school, then try not to speak English at home (in other words, don't do what I have done!)

By the way, Sholu, I'm new to the Multilingual Families Forum, but I've just glanced through the previous thread, which I think you may find interesting too http://www.proz.com/topic/84620


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Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 20:46
English to Swedish
+ ...
Juggling three languages? Oct 9, 2007

Nesrin wrote:
Is Spanish your native language? If so, I'm not so sure - my advice was mainly for families living in a country where their native language isn't spoken. Of course it's a good idea to teach your kid a second language from an early age, but I don't think it's a good idea to eliminate the use of your own native language at home.


Hi all,

I have a similar situation to Yaotl.
My wife is fluent in Malay (native)/English/Swedish.
I'm fluent in Swedish (native)/English.
We live in Sweden, but until now we've used English as lingua franca at home.

My wife wants to speak Malay only with our toddler, while I'm supposed to speak Swedish only. We reckon that he will catch up English later in school.
The problem is that I don't speak Malay, so I won't be naturally involved in the conversations my wife and kid will have.

Of course, the solution would be for me to learn Malay properly, but it's a big obstacle to learn a new language for me when the immersion and learning possibilities are so limited...

Best,

Jan


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Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 20:46
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Speak your native tongue Oct 9, 2007

I'm not sure of the exact situation in your case. But it is always best for parents to speak their native tongue (So father speaks X, mother speak Y, and the country language is Z). Kids pick up different languages easily but bilingual kids seem to have a delay of about 4- 8 months compared to mono-lingual kids...

Kids generally also do not speak X to a person who they know can speak only Y. (or who can speak X, but their native tongue is Y).

Example: I met the 4 year old daughter of a friend (who is native French and living in the US). She never heard her daughter speak English, but since she did not know I also spoke french, she replied to me in perfect English that she did not speak English with her parents because they make a lot of mistakes....

Ed


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 01:16
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
What is the country of your residence... Oct 9, 2007

... or which is the main langugae spoken around you. If it is not Tamil or English, then your son may not be receiving sufficient exposure to Tamil or English to enable him to speak these languages.

You should try to increase this exposure, especially to the spoken sounds of Tamil/English. Only then will your son begin to speak these languages.

Some children speak late. Usually they begin by three - three and a half in simple sentences and words. But some may gain full command of langauge only by five.


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sholu
Galician to English
TOPIC STARTER
Balasubramanian, pls reply Oct 9, 2007

Hi balasubramanian,
We live in US, my son goes to a preschool, English is the main language ....So now what?
He speaks in simple sentence and words only in English; In tamil just a very few words and that too if we ask him to repeat what we say, he on his own says words like thani(water),hungry etc....


Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

... or which is the main langugae spoken around you. If it is not Tamil or English, then your son may not be receiving sufficient exposure to Tamil or English to enable him to speak these languages.

You should try to increase this exposure, especially to the spoken sounds of Tamil/English. Only then will your son begin to speak these languages.

Some children speak late. Usually they begin by three - three and a half in simple sentences and words. But some may gain full command of langauge only by five.


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Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 20:46
Swedish to English
+ ...
Tamil at home Oct 9, 2007

Just to add to what everyone else has said - only speak Tamil and home and let your son pick his English up at preschool/from others outside the home. We only speak English at home and my son has learnt all his Swedish from nursery/school/non-family contacts - he is now ten and is completely bilingual in English/Swedish.

Don't worry if you think he's slow at speaking - children are all different and most of them catch up eventually. Just be consistent with your language use, be patient, and try not to worry too much!


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simona dachille  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:46
Italian to English
don't give up! Oct 9, 2007

Keep speaking both languages to him, if you can correctly. if not back it up with TV, audio cassettes and books. My son is almost four and has just started using his second language, using proper sentences. And at night, to entice me to pick him up, cheeky thing! All kids are different, they are absorbing much more than you think. What counts is that the model is a correct one! Good luck and don't give up, at some point, you'll see amazing results!

[Edited at 2007-10-09 21:14]


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:46
Member (2005)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Completely agree with Clare Oct 12, 2007

Clare Barnes wrote:
Just to add to what everyone else has said - only speak Tamil and home and let your son pick his English up at preschool/from others outside the home. We only speak English at home and my son has learnt all his Swedish from nursery/school/non-family contacts - he is now ten and is completely bilingual in English/Swedish.

Don't worry if you think he's slow at speaking - children are all different and most of them catch up eventually. Just be consistent with your language use, be patient, and try not to worry too much!


First of all, if he is developing well, and understands most everyday things, don't worry. When talking to him, ask frequent questions, to encourage him answering, but don't force it, don't make him realise what your game is.

Clare is absolutely right, speak only Tamil at home.
He will pick up English without any doubt, you wouldn't even be able to stop it, but if you don't make an effort with Tamil now, it is only going to be more and more difficult to make him learn.


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Helen Genevier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:46
Member (2007)
French to English
Can he spend time with other Tamil-speaking children? Oct 19, 2007

In our family, I am English and only speak English with our children, their father is French and we live in France. The kids are now aged 8, 11 and 13 and I have seen them all follow a similar pattern... they did speak quite late, they continued to answer me in French a lot of the time while I persisted with English, but that habit faded as they got older (between maybe 8 and 10). I suppose it is because they hear me speaking French with other people. However, what makes a massive difference is when they spend a week in England with their grandparents or cousins, or when we have visitors over from the UK. A week of immersion (particularly when it involves children of their own age) gives their English a fantastic boost.

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4 year old not speaking very fluently

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