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My daughter is 6 years old. She speaks English (from me), French (from my husband). When she was 2 years old, we moved to the Netherlands, so now she added the also Dutch language… Her Dutch is the strongest now. My concern is about her English- it was her strongest, but now she has so many mistakes and she uses some words in Dutch, so when she switches to English it sounds so messy, it’s even difficult to understand her. I tried to correct her mistakes at first, but she got very upset from it so I try to do it less. My question is- do the langugages “arrange” themselves in some order so they don’t mix up with each other? at what age? should I stop speaking English with her? should I correct her? Thanks!


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Hi Sharon,

Many children mix languages and the age up to which they do so depends on many factors. Dropping one language is rarely (nearly never) the answer, however what can help is increasing the child’s exposure to that language from other monolingual speakers. Many children mix languages because the people around them speak both languages and they just basically want to get their message across as fast as possible, no matter how messy it may be. When they spend time with monolingual speakers, grandparents, monolingual children, they nolonger can use that strategy and have to try to speak in a way that the others understand. Our 6-year-old daughter spent 3 weeks with her French grandparents last summer and it was great for her language skills.

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