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Ken Ommundsen

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Hi everyone!
I am so happy to have found this forum…This is our situation:
I am Norwegian, my wife is Malaysian. We live in Norway. My wife has both Malay and English as her native language. My native language is Norwegian, but I speak fluent English. At home we speak English. We are currently expecting our first child. Our plan is for me to speak Norwegian and  for my wife to speak English. We will speak English when we talk to each other. I am a bit concerned about introducing a third language (Malay)… What should I do?



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 I was browsing through the forum to see if there were any Norweigens here and to my surprise I found you!  What is funny is that I am married to a Norweigen and living in Norway, I am Canadian, and my father is Malasian I can’t speak Malay unfortunetly, but we are planning on teaching our first born both english and norweigen.
 It would be great to keep in contact and share ideas and advice together.

Hope to hear from you soon,

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My husband is also Norwegian, I am Russian, and we live in Sweden)). I speak only Russian to all of my kids (5, 2.5 and 4 mnths ald), he speaks Norwegian to them and English to me. And I answer in Russian when I talk to him)

Our oldest speaks Norwegian, Swedish, some English and Russian. He devides between languages, even Norwegian and Swedish. His first language is Swedish, of course. But he speaks good Russian though I see that it is much more difficult for him to find the right words in russian since I am the only person who speaks Russian to him.

He will go to  school this summer and i think it will be even more difficult for him to communicate in Russian. But I hope we can do our best.


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Well, our son is now almost 1 yr old, and things are going just fine 🙂 His first word was ” mamma” which is mom in Norwegian. We are still sticking to our system , but we are getting an Indonesian au-pair very soon. Indonesian is quite similar to Malaysian, so I am wondering how he will respond to this … How are things going for you Noelle?

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I have a Norwegian father and a Philipina mother. My dad would talk norwegian to me and my mom would talk norwegian and hillongo ( one of the mayor languages in the Philippines ) But then my mom who is a English mayor wanted to introduce English, so she tried it out. It went very well. Later she indroduced tagalog and cebuano…So I think you should try it out and look what happens. Cause now that I’m an adult I’m very glad they did:-)
Good luck!

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I live in Norway with my Norwegian husband. I am from Mexico but grew up in California, so I’m fluent in both English and Spanish. We have a 20 month daughter and I’m worried she might not be picking up language as she should. My husband speaks Norwegian to her and she also hears at at daycare. I speak to her in both English and Spanish. I’ve been told to only speak to her in one language, preferably in Spanish because all kids get taught English in school anyway. I find it difficult to only stick to Spanish because I am very comfortable in English and use it everyday. Will she develop language problems if I continue mixing languages?

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Interesting thread!

I am Norwegian married to a Ugandan. We live in Norway (well, have spent the last two months in Uganda, but going back to Norway after one more month). I speak to our son mainly in Norwegian. He’s 13 months old now. My husbands mother tounge is a tribal language called Ateso (anyone speaking it in Norway we’d be extremely happy to get in touch!!!!), but he speaks fluent English, having spoken it at school and home since he was young.

My husband finds it difficult to speak to our son in his native language, as there is no one around us speaking it. We speak a mix of all the three languages when we speak together, him learning more and more Norwegian, and me knowing quite a bit of Ateso (English is the main language, though).

I try to speak only Norwegian to our son, and it is OK when we are in Norway. However, when we are with people who do not understand Norwegian, I mix with English. Now that we are in Uganda, I mix with English AND Ateso, my husband speaks mostly English but some Ateso to him, and so do most of his relatives…

However, having seen how Ugandan children learn many languages at once, with no one ever having heard of OPOL, mL@H etc, I am quite relaxed. He may mix a bit in the beginning (well he does now, he knows about 10 words, some from each language! but since everyone around him understand all the words he knows, it’s not a problem as of yet…). I am sure that by the time he starts day care in Norway he will quickly understand which words are not understood by the Norwegians!

One thing most Ugandan children don’t achieve though, is fluency in reading and writing in all the languages they know, as there is limited litterature and education available in these languages. But for speaking, it seems that children can easily learn up to 5 languages when they are exposed to them, even when people mix (and they do mix a lot- I often hear my husband and his relatives using words from 3-4 languages in one sentence, and switching back and forth between languages several times within a brief conversation! But they have no problems speaking only one language when they speak to someone who do not speak the other languages- and they grew up like our children do!).

So to erika, I don’t think you mixing languages will cause your daughter develop language problems! I very well understand the difficulty in speaking only one language to your daughter, but that is who you are, and I believe the most important is that you are natural with her. Sooner or later she will no doubt know what is English and what is Spanish. In the meantime, she will not have ‘language problems’, although she may mix the two languages more than if you only spoke one. BUT, am sure in the long run, she will learn them both!


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