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Poll: Do you encourage your own children to learn other languages?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 10:08
SITE STAFF
Aug 17, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you encourage your own children to learn other languages?".

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 18:08
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Aug 17, 2016

Not any more, they are adults now, but I did encourage them when they were young... I have three children: I wasn’t successful at all with my eldest son as he has no interest whatsoever in any language but his own; my middle daughter speaks French fluently and has a good knowledge of English and Italian; my youngest daughter speaks good English and Spanish, understands French and has a keen interest in Japanese (because of cooking). My interest in languages might have influenced my grandchildren as two of them speak English fluently and the eldest has a strong interest in other languages (Finnish, French, Dutch and Italian). She will be doing her Master this year in Leuven (Belgium).

[Edited at 2016-08-17 09:36 GMT]


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Eckhard Boehle  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:08
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Other Aug 17, 2016

I will, I will!
With me, it's the other way round, my daughter is only 5 months old and till now speaks her own quite limited language. But when she has learned some proper German I will see to teach her or have her taught also other languages like English, French, Spanish, whatever's appropriate – let's see ...


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:08
Member
Italian to English
I don't have children Aug 17, 2016

but my dog is a polyglot! (true story)

If I did have children, I would certainly encourage them to learn other languages, while leaving them free to pursue the path that best suited them.


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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:08
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Yes, of course Aug 17, 2016

I only have a daughter; She is 23 and works in Dublin, her father is French, we spoke English at home, and now she has 3 'mother tongues': English, Danish and French.

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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:08
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes Aug 17, 2016

Whatever they may decide to do with their lives, knowledge of other languages is very useful.

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Ana Vozone  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:08
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, I did encourage them Aug 17, 2016

because I was encouraged, as a child, to learn French and English at home (my Mother taught English and French at the American School in Lisbon). When we were vey young, we (my brothers and I) had a Swiss lady who came to our house twice a week to teach us French, so French was my second language for a while. French was also taught in Portugal as a second language in high-school. We had English lessons with my Mom. French music was "in" and dominated the 'scene' for a long time... And then came the Beatles...

My two children speak English fluently, but they have "lost" the French they learnt in high-school, it's just not spoken in their circles, which is a pity. My son speaks fluent Spanish as well.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:08
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Didn't need to, but yes Aug 17, 2016

My son started playing with language and making puns before he was three, according to one of my Christmas letters...

He was not bilingual at the time - I was still consolidating my Danish, and spoke Danish to him, but from the age of three and a half he was into English and fascinated, so he is bilingual. Definitely my parents' grandson! His father's family are good at languages too, so 'he has not got it from strangers', as the Danes put it.

He later learnt German well, and some French, Japanese and Italian at various stages in his career. He is not a professional linguist - he read biochemistry and physics, then ended up with IT and economics.

We did not attempt One Parent, One Language or anything systematic - we simply used whatever language suited the other people we were with, but my husband and I both read English books to him as well as Danish, and he read voraciously himself as soon as he could carry a stack of books home from the library!


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Ikram Mahyuddin  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 00:08
English to Indonesian
+ ...
I don't have children Aug 17, 2016

However, learning other languages is a very good things, of course.

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Magda Phili
Italy
Local time: 19:08
Italian to Greek
+ ...
Absolutely! Aug 17, 2016

We live in Italy and my daughter (she is 6 years old) who speaks fluent Italian, understands every single word in Greek, even if she doesn't respond to me in Greek (I only speak to her in my mother tongue and sometimes English). Italian is what comes more natural for her since this is where she is growing up and going to school at. I am sure she will speak Greek if she spends time with children in Greece, something that, at the moment, is not happening due to my busy schedule here in Italy.

What I honestly feel as true is that every child is different and the learning process reflects this. It's a fact, though, that the sooner the better because when it comes to children language learning should be more of a *natural passing* of your mother tongue and not *teaching* them *a language*.

We recently got her a world map. The other day I pinpointed a country and said: "This is where my friend ... lives, she speaks English, but she is originally from...., where they speak ... ".

I think it's a matter of making them feel accustomed to the fact that languages are fun and it's all about communicating (and at this young age, playing) with others.


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Susana Magnani  Identity Verified
Argentina
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Other Aug 17, 2016

My kids, now 23 and 26, didn't need encouragement. They were lucky enough to have been born in a French-English bilingual city (Montreal) to Spanish-speaking parents. They were immersed in three languages from the very beginning, so languages came naturally to them. No English or French allowed in the house (unless there were guests). They went to school in French and to college in English and lived in a mostly English neighbourhood. The are fully, really trilingual. They also learnt some German in high school. My daughter learnt Italian all through high school (motivated by the promise of a 2-week trip to Italy at the end of the program). Not only did she go to that trip, but when she finished high school, she lived in Italy for 1 year. In my eyes, her proficiency in Italian is as good as for the other three languages. She feels that, as she "learnt" the language (as opposed to having "acquired" it), Italian is not at the same level. She also learnt some basic Mandarin in college.

They are very fortunate indeed. No need to force them... and languages flow naturally for them. They almost can't tell the difference when they switch from one language to another. I'll say something that has never been said before: kids are sponges. Let them be exposed to as many experiences as you can (including languages, of course), and they'll soak them in.


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Alexandra Speirs  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:08
Italian to English
+ ...
I did and it worked Aug 17, 2016

Both were spoken to only in English for the first 3 years, apart from a few words with the Italian grandparents.
They picked up Italian quickly enough at nursery school.
Speaking both languages was absolutely essential, as we have family members in different countries.
At school they learned German, which my daughter continued to a higher level because she wanted to do an Erasmus in Germany.
She is now learning French.
My son followed me into translation and interpreting. On a trip to Romania where they were using English as lingua franca he "clicked" with the Romanian interpreter who is now his wife.
In the meantime he has learned Romanian too...
This was all in their genes anyway. His Italian grandmother (who unfortunately did not encourage her kids to learn languages) was a native speaker of Slovenian and could also get by in Croatian.
When we have family reunions there are often 3 languages on the go: English, Italian and German (one of my sisters lives in Austria, and her kids have also been indoctrinated in at least 2 languages!).


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:08
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Surprising Aug 17, 2016

the percentage of people not having children, must be much higher than in the general population! Either translators are less likely to have children, or those without children are more likely to answer pools.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
No Aug 17, 2016

No, not especially. We encourage anything they *want* to learn.

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:08
English to Spanish
+ ...
Big smile Aug 17, 2016

EvaVer wrote:

the percentage of people not having children, must be much higher than in the general population! Either translators are less likely to have children, or those without children are more likely to answer pools.


This is what I call a witty posting with the right dose of humor and sarcasm.

Or maybe it's my painkiller kicking in…



Seriously, though, I was somewhat surprised to see that almost half of the respondents chose I don't have any children (true in my case).

However, here's a corollary question: What about nephews, nieces or other young people (and pets) a childless translator may exert some beneficial influence on? In my case, one of my nephews (still in high school, Montserrat school in Córdoba, Argentina) took up German on his own (thanks, I believe, to the example of his own dad, who had the initiative to study 3-4 years of German and the Goethe Institute in the same city).

In my conversations with my older nieces (in their early twenties), I have encouraged them to pick up languages as a tool, not to become translators themselves.


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