We encourage you to talk back! Expert advice is nice, but we all love to hear what other parents are doing. So, don’t just ask questions but share your own experience, thoughts, ideas, tips and examples.
Oh and please read these short guidelines before you post. If you need, here are commonly used acronyms.

 |  New Posts  |  Chat


Author Comment


Reply with quote
We are Americans living in Beijing, China.  Mom grew up monolingual [plus high school French] but has learned Mandarin since coming to China, Dad grew up bilingual [English and a non-Russian Slavic language], plus a high school French.  Dad along the way picked up smatterings of several European languages [can order beer, find the train station, find a restroom, etc practically anywhere on the continent], then studied Russian in Moscow after university, and has learned Mandarin since coming to China.

FF to kids:  both born in China [#1 3.5yo and #2 1.5yo], household languages are:
Ayi [nanny] to everyone:  Mandarin
Mom to kids:  English
Mom to Ayi:  Mandarin
Dad to kids:  Russian
Parents to each other:  English
Community language:  mostly Mandarin

Our #1 child spoke almost entirely in Mandarin until she was almost 2.  She understood English and also Russian to a lesser extent [less time with Dad], but it was not until we took a family trip to Hong Kong and she saw a community of English speakers that she began to speak English [it turned around literally overnight – we surmised that she just thought it was a secret Mom language until she encountered an English speaking community].  At this time, she is balanced between English and Mandarin, and her Russian is a bit weaker.  To combat this, we have enrolled her in a Russian preschool [about 4 hrs/day] and primarily allow her to watch Russian DVDs [but TV/DVDs are not a big part of her life — probably averages less than half an hour per day].  She has been there 4 months now, and at this point can understand almost everything and is beginning to slowly start to speak in Russian while at school.  Mom is also learning a few words of Russian [wonders if it will help if she learns more?]

#2 is barely beginning to talk at 18 months.  He does have several words in English and Mandarin, but nothing intelligible in Russian yet [again, it seems to be an issue of having less time with Dad]; we are planning to send him to the Russian preschool somewhere between 30-36 months of age.

Our #1 speaks to her brother in all 3 languages — again, primarily English and Mandarin, but when she is “babytalking” with him, she includes lots of Russian sounds [very easy to tell the difference].

Our goals for the kids include staying in China until they can acquire basic literacy in Mandarin as well as English and Russian.  We expect that basic English and Russian literacy will be relatively easy to acquire [alphabets vs characters].


Previous Topic

| Next Topic


Quick Navigation: