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Hi there. I’ve got a 10 month infant girl who I’m trying to raise trilingually. My husband and I both speak English & Spanish fluently. I also teach her French although I am not a native speaker. I’m a language teacher by profession but am now a stay-at-home mother. I’ve tried to come up with a ‘language schedule’ so that she has somewhat equal exposure to all 3 languages. Wake-up til lunch is French; post-lunch to bed-time is Spanish; English is minimally spoken intermittenly throughout the day. My concern is that since I’m a non-native speaker of French & therefore don’t speak as profusely with her in the mornings in French, is she still going to speak this language adequately? Don’t get me wrong, I’m still talking quite a bit, but it’s not as nearly fluent & varied as in the other languages. I do all ‘daily’ activities with her (i.e., read aloud, sing, narrate actions) with slow & simple French. I supplement my French with audio books, CDs, & videos. At this point there aren’t any playgroups & French language classes in my area for such a young child–that will come in the future. Since she’s babbling but not yet ‘talking talking’, I’m not sure if she’s truly learning French. Is anybody in a similar situation? I suppose I may just need encouragement but some advice &/or ancedotes would be appreciated! Thanks in advance, Angelina   


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Hi Angelina:

I think your system sounds like it will work as long as it works for your family.  I am wondering if you started this schedule at birth or if you have made some changes along the way? Thanks, Ann 

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hi there, ann. thanks for the reply to my post & i’m glad to hear an encouraging word. to answer your question, when my baby was born, i was more concerned about getting a handle on being a mother than i was about speaking various languages. so, in the beginning i spoke mostly spanish & then some english with random french here & there. this was for the first 4-5 months. it’s now been 5-6 months that i’ve been using the a.m./p.m. schedule (she’s now 11 months old). what i like about it is the structure–i know she’s getting a roughly even exposure to both french & spanish (plus, for sanity’s sake, i NEED a schedule!).

at times, it can kind of be tough emotionally…i mean, i feel like i’m navigating through unchartered waters & i’m not sure of the end result (i.e., how she’ll be linguistically). for example, i wonder if (in the future) i’ll be able to answer questions that require advance french. but then i just chill myself out & realize that she may not be perfectly fluent in french but she’ll DEFINITELY have a decent grasp on the language. i cheer myself on, exhale, & then carry on my merry way.

what about you? do you have a similar situation? i’m dying to know what others are doing….

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Hi Angelina,

I read your post.  You and I have the same concerns.  I have a 28-month-old daughter.  I am not a native French speaker.  But I have managed to speak to my daughter in French only– (while my husband speaks to her in Spanish).  Seeing that I am not a native speaker, It is getting harder and harder to speak French b/c she is using complete sentences and is needing explanation for things that are unfamiliar to her.  Here are some strategies (I am trying):  I have enrolled her in a french playgroup; I am now watching shows in French to increase my vocabulary,  and I have purchased a few dictionaries (in French of course).  I am also looking for someone—a tutor/friend who speaks French to have daily/weekly conversations with to increase my french/vocabulary (even if I have to pay that person.)

I am not going to give up b/c she is speaking French so beautifully that I just have to continue with it.  I hope that helps.

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