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This is my story. I am originally Iranian. I now live and have been living in Canada since I was very young and speak English as good as Farsi. My wife is Japanese and she speaks English and Japanese fluently aswell. She speaks to our daughter of 1.5 years of age in Japanese. I speak to her in English. In fact I sometimes feel we are competing in teaching our respective languages. To complicate things, my parents speak to our daughter in Farsi 1.5 days per week when she stays with them. I am a little worried about delaying our daughter’s language skills. This delay could effect the social behaviors (such as sharing, making friends) that she needs to learn using our community language which is English. I tried to explain this to my wife and parents, but they brushed off my concerns and continue to do what pleases them. The chances of us going to Iran are nil. There is a remote chance we move to japan for a few years one day as she has cousins and grandparents there, but mostly we are planning to stay in Canada for our daughter to go to school here.
I would appreciate some feedback.

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Good morning.
Because you live in Canada, there can be no real “competition” for languages, as English is the dominant social language in your environment; that is, unless you are living in a region where French is given preference. There are less opportunities where you are living for the Farsi and Japanese, and it seems important for your parents and wife to share their cultures and languages with your daughter. Your daughter’s life will be all the more rich because of this. Though there may be some initial shyness, apprehension, or delay in some social interaction, social behavior is something that many adults still are struggling to develop. What I mean is that social behavior is a process that isn’t mastered in childhood, nor is it something that multilingual people/children grapple with more than monolingual people do. My daughter is bilingual (Latvian/English) living in America. Although she was definitely very timid in preschool at first, and she was, this is largely due to her innate nature, and less due to her speaking another language. She is now in the first grade, but by kindergarten had blossomed and was and is friendly and outgoing and even principled (yes!). Can I suggest that being bilingual is responsible for her being so great? No. It is her nature. My daughter attends a diverse public school, which is also Chinese immersion. Therefore, she is working on a third language. It is not the multilingual children at school who are socially delayed. There are many children in her class who speak another language at home and who have other cultures they belong to/relate to. They all seem to be thriving. In fact, those children who seem less socially balanced and well behaved are the monolingual children. However, I suppose it has more to do with their inherent nature rather than the languages they speak or don’t.  


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Thank you Daria. Ill keep your opinions in mind. An update. My mom and I got into an argument over teaching my daughter Farsi and our relationship is suffering. I love my mother and this issue has become such a stress. I feel my parents are so much more important to me and my daughter than the delay they can potentially cause in her English uptake by talking to her in Farsi. So its a compromise I have to make and a fact of life I have to live with. Still I would appreciate to hear from other too so kindly give me your opinion, feelings and suggestions.


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Please, please, please, let your daughter learn her loved ones languages! Speaking from experience, she will have an indentity crisis later if she can’t speak the languages of her family. particularly as she is mixed race and most likely is a stunning little girl that everyone will be curious about. My daughters speak three languages perfectly and understand two others very well and they are the called the little geniuses around town. These languages were of no particular stress to learn because they learned them from people they love dearly. Allow your daughter to be exceptional, not just another run of the mill monolingual student.

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