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My husband and I are both Chinese American living in the US, with my husband speaking English only (born and raised in US) and I speak English predominantly.  I also speak intermediate Chinese (learned from my parents) and intermediate French (learned from school and lived in France as a young adult). 

I have an almost 3 year old daughter and a 4 month old baby and would like to teach them both Chinese and French (in addition to English which she is learning with no problem).  Since I am the only one that knows Chinese and French, how can I teach my daughters the two languages?  I was initially teaching my daughter by telling her each thing can be said in different ways..(thus the three languages), but then I heard it’s better to use a situational approach (ie morning speak Chinese, afternoon French and outside English).  Now the latest i heard is that i should ONLY choice one language cause otherwise my daughter would be confused and have learning problems later.  My dilemma is that my most fluent language is English (same as my husband), so really, choosing between Chinese and French and speaking to my daughter 100% in Chinese or French is a bit tough for me.  Having said that i don’t want to just forget it and revert to english only.

Can anyone help with any suggestions?  Insights? Thank you in advance.

Erik K

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If you want an authoritative answer, you could search online book stores for books about raising bilingual or multilingual children. Those books hopefully will refer to the latest research on the subject.

Based on all the information I have seen on this website, I believe the situational approach you mentioned would work fine. But your husband and most other people in your area will speak English, so there is no need for you to speak English at all to your children (unless particular circumstances force you to).

Why not speak to your kids only in Chinese at home and only in French outside the home? Or the other way around?

The fact that your daughter has heard English from you up until now means you must manage the transition somehow. I don’t know how, but I bet you can handle it.


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