General Question

Stinley's avatar

Should parents speak to their children in their native language?

Asked by Stinley (6244 points ) June 30th, 2011

If a parent comes from another country or speaks another language as mother tongue, do you think they should enable their child to learn that language by speaking to them in it? Or should they just speak the language of the country they are living in? What if the other parent didn’t understand the language? Have any of you been in this situation, as a child or parent?

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47 Answers

Beastlicker's avatar

A fun way to teach your child two languages at one time is to have one parent speak the foreign language, and the other speak the country’s language. Have the parents pretend like they cannot speak to each other and need the child to translate back and forth.

For instance: Let’s say the dad speaks to the child in English, and the mom speaks to the child in German. Have the father tell the child to tell mom that dinner is ready. The child would then go to mom and speak to her in German that dinner is ready.

Seelix's avatar

I haven’t been in the situation, but I know many people who have. Personally, I think it’s great for parents to use their native language with their kids. Why would learning another language be detrimental to a child?

I know a lot of people whose parents came from Italy, and spoke to them in their dialect as they were growing up. There are some older people I know whose parents didn’t ever learn English well (or at all), and the children didn’t have any problems becoming proficient in dialect and English. As you might know, it’s a lot easier to learn languages the younger you are.

I don’t think the issue of whether the other parent can speak the language should be a problem. I know an Italian professor whose wife doesn’t speak Italian, but he speaks both Italian and English to their 4-year-old, and mom speaks only English to her. Their child is doing great in both.

With some languages that aren’t readily taught to kids in North America (I’m thinking anything other than French or Spanish), speaking the language at home gives kids an opportunity they probably wouldn’t have otherwise (Yes, I know language schools exist, but not everyone has the time or money for those – I just mean the kids wouldn’t learn the language in public school).

Learning language is never a bad idea.

tom_g's avatar

Of course!

Besides the obvious benefits, like actually knowing 2 languages at a young age, there are other benefits.

Also…
@Stinley: “Or should they just speak the language of the country they are living in?”
I live in the US, and we don’t really have an official language. In my neck of the woods, I hear Cantonese, Spanish, Greek, Hindi, and English. Sure, English is the most common, and it is essential right now to know English to get anything done here. But I am not sure if this will always be the case, and I think that would be a good thing.

Vincentt's avatar

As long as it doesn’t cause the child not to know the language of the country he’s living in. For example, there are people who moved to the Netherlands, whose children were born here and go to school here, but who don’t speak Dutch. Since these children do not speak Dutch at home at all, they often lag behind in linguistic development, which is detrimental for their participation in society. That’s quite a shame. Learning two languages at young age, however, is fantastic, and I love @Beastlicker‘s method.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I think it’s far better for the child to learn the second language – it is a part of their heritage, and it will only become harder for them to learn as they get older.

@Beastlicker, I know several people who have used this method, and I’m not a fan (especially if the parents are being strict about it). Inevitably, the children become more fluent in one of the two languages, which means they’ll be more comfortable communicating with the parent who speaks that language. Or they’ll default to that language when frustrated or tired, adding even more stress for the parent who must then insist that they speak the other language.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, they should speak in their native language so that the child can learn it.

dabbler's avatar

I think parents should speak all the languages they know around their children. Gets their little brains wired early in ways that are more difficult later in life. I like @Beastlicker concept of having the child translate for parents, but have no experience with that and it could be confusing for the kid (why doesn’t mommy understand daddy?)

poisonedantidote's avatar

Yes yes yes and yes. Feed that little guy as many words as you can, they will be harder to learn the older the kid gets.

I personally speak 5 languages at mother tongue level, and I read and write in 4 of them. When I tell people I usually get impressed reactions, but it’s not that impressive, when you find out that I only ever had to study and learn 1 of those 5 languages, the other 4 were always there, and I just picked it up.

I live in a place where unless you speak 3 languages at mother tongue level, you wont even get a basic dead end minimum wage job. There is so much tourism, that being bilingual is the norm, speaking one language only is seen as a sign of possible ignorance, and being a polyglot is seen as valuable. If I had not learned the languages I did when I did, I would be washing dishes to pay off the mortgage on a 1 bed apartment.

Furthermore, languages are freedom. Think of all the places you can go with languages, with the 5 that I know I can travel most of the globe and be understood or employed. English alone will allow you to go to Canada, USA, UK, Australia, New Zeland, parts of The Philipines, parts of Africa, and more. Throw in Spanish and you can now cover Spain, Mexico, Ecuador, and so on. With the 5 I know, I could work anywhere from New York city, to a tiny obscure village in Sardinia.

EDIT:

I have to go to work now, but when I come back in a couple of hours, Ill type up another answer about all the bad aspects of learning more than one language as you grow up, and yes there are a lot of them, such as later developing social skills, possible feelings of isolation or stigma, and more.

Nullo's avatar

It’s good to get the kids to learn both languages.

Hibernate's avatar

It’s good to know 2 languages . [ and in the long run it will help them a lot ]

geeky_mama's avatar

I have never heard any regret from 1st gen kids of immigrant parents (or kids raised in a country other than their parent’s place of birth) that their parents spoke to them in their mother tongue at home.

I have only ever heard great regret that they didn’t know more of their parents’ first language. Or, in the cases (which more frequently happened during earlier immigration waves in the 20th century) where the parents forced themselves to speak the new country’s language (e.g. English in America, not their first language) at home—I have heard many kids exclaim that they wish that they had learned more of their parent’s native language.

So, my guess is it does more harm than good to NOT speak to the kids in your own native language.

A few more cases that I’ve seen first hand (and some potential minor negatives):
a) A friend raising her son trilingual compared notes with me on my children who were close in age. Her son’s speech was initially delayed (about a year to 18 months behind his peers) – but when it came, it came equally in all three languages and appropriately (he could identify who spoke French, who spoke English and who he should address in Persian—and could converse equally in all three).

b) Another good friend is Czech, her husband German. They are raising the kids trilingual and recently spent a couple of years back in her home country. The kids have lost some English (she’s not concerned) and their Czech is GREAT now…but their German, falling away now.
They will start school in the US next fall—and she is unconcerned about their catching up. (They are still VERY young. Oldest is Kindergarten, younger is pre-school.) No delays, no difficulty transitioning between languages.

c) I helped tutor two sons of a Chinese immigrant family during the elementary years. To their frustration the parents could not get ESL tutoring and services through the school district for their sons because the boys had been born here. Dad never learned enough English to be conversant, mom could speak at a conversational level but felt her English was grammatically weak and vocabulary too poor to help her sons. The boys DID struggle without their parents being able to read their school papers and assist them with their homework—but their struggles seemed to have been tied to their displeasure with being sent to Chinese school on the weekends. Their Saturdays were spent in Chinese school and they didn’t like it! Sundays were Chinese school homework days. They wanted to play and rebelled by doing poorly academically and both Chinese and their regular American school.
Once the emotional issue (not wanting to attend weekend school) was resolved, the boys improved greatly in their (English speaking) school work.

d) Dear friends from my childhood (now in their thirties, and late forties) were first generation Vietnamese. Their parent’s English sort of plateaued at a conversational level in the 1980s – but their close-knit and large family has thrived nonetheless. They share the translation burden among ALL the siblings, and each helped the other through college and professional degrees. They have 2 doctors, a nurse, dentist and a lawyer ..a couple teachers among the siblings now. The only drawback is that they haven’t felt able to move far-away for work—most everyone has stayed within a 200 mile radius of their parents.. but then, perhaps that’s really not a negative with such a lovely family and much loved parents.

nailpolishfanatic's avatar

YES! Every child deserves to know how to speak their mother tongue. Its just a MUST for me. Me and my mother always speak together in Lozi so that I don’t completely forget it because it can happen very easily.

dxs's avatar

That’s what my parents did to me. When they are young, their minds absorb things like sponges, and it makes it easier to say more secretive things in public haha. Famous French proverb or something: “A man who knows two languages is worth two men.” I agree—Sacagawea got pretty far with assisting in translations.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I think they should try to speak their native language and the language of the country they have moved to in equal amounts. Especially with young children, it is very important that both languages are learned during the years during which the child is most able to learn new languages.

My mother was a Spanish major in college, and tried to speak to me in Spanish as a child so I would be bilingual. If it had worked out that way, I would have had a head up in life. However, I hated it and would ignore any non-English words. Yeah, I was a brat . . .

morphail's avatar

Yes, parents should speak to their child in their native language. This is often the only chance the child will have of learning their parents’ language. Parents don’t have a lot of influence over the language their children speak, so they use what influence they have.

I don’t think there’s much of a risk that the child won’t learn the local language. If they’re going to school in the local language and playing with other kids in the local language, they will learn the local language. And I think they will usually be fluent in it, even if their parents don’t speak it.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The people I’ve known who come from outside the USA and then raise their kids here all teach their kids both languages (or more if the parents are multi-lingual). Most came from countries where English was taught in schools and considered one of the world languages of business.

One of the things they would point out to me is their confusion as to why particular ethnic groups still spoke with such heavy accents or affected English when they were already American born for several generations and also why most Americans are taught foreign language as only an elective or hobby.

Ajulutsikael's avatar

When I moved to this country my parents didn’t know any English, but I managed to go to Kindergarten just fine. I watched a lot of tv and learned the language that way.

As for my kids they grew up in a house with 3 different languages and there was no way for one parent to speak one language and the other parents and then no one speak English. On top of this both my ex and I are a bit rusty in our mother language. My parents have been teaching my son and for some odd reason it has been easier for me to get into it than with my daughter. It must be because now I’m surrounded by people that speak the same language.

It’s beneficial for the kids to learn another language, but it’s also if it’s a common language or dialect. Me knowing my mother tongue has not benefited me at all in the workplace or in life.

MilkyWay's avatar

Yes they should. My mum is Indian and she speaks Urdu/Hindi. She speaks English too, but her mother tongues are the above. She always spoke to us in English and Urdu from the start, when me and my siblings were babies.
I think it’s a wonderful thing I can speak fluent English and Urdu as a result, although, I would say still that English is my fist language.

The_Inquisitor's avatar

My parents both speak to me in their native tongue, and taught me that language. The majority of my friends’ parents’ also speak in their native tongue to their children. My parents aren’t very good at the language here, so it would be weird if they taught me English as a child, or spoke to me in that language… My mother didn’t even really know how to speak the language when I was born. If they spoke to me in English, I wouldn’t have learned it as well as I have. I learned how to speak English when I was age 3 or 4, from watching television. Preschool was also helpful in learning English.

If only one parent speaks another foreign language, it’s still beneficial for the child to learn the language. There could be relatives that only speak that native tongue, and the child wouldn’t be able to communicate with some of the relatives if they didn’t know their parent’s native tongue.

The child could grow up and if never was taught their parent’s native tongue, would wish that they were. But it would be more difficult to learn as an adult, and sometimes, naturally, people are drawn to their origins and wish to find out more about it, other times they won’t care, but from the cases I’ve seen, many people like to find their origins.

But I guess it’s up to the parents. There’re different cases. I think I’d probably speak English more often in the future when I have my own family, since I speak English more often. Learning another language beside the one the country speaks could be helpful. Nothing wrong with knowing more languages.

perspicacious's avatar

I certainly would. It can only be beneficial for the kids.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Ok, I’m back. While I do think that over all, languages are always good, there are some down sides to growing up knowing more than one language.

When do we say someone knows how to speak? Is it when they first say “mama or dada” for the first time, could we then say that person speaks? or would we need to wait until that person is 5 or 6 years old, before we can say they speak? How much vocabulary do you need before you can say you can speak?

When you grow up learning more than 1 language, it takes you much longer to refine your language and communication. People who speak one language concentrate on words such as “phenomenon” and “intercepted” when they reach their early teens, but if you speak more than one language, it will probably take you an extra year or two to refine your vocabulary. Because of this, if you speak more than one language, you may take a little longer to develop the same social skills, communication skills, and “maturity” of people your same age.

Furthermore, your sense of humor will probably be compromised in one of your languages. For example, you will never be able to tell me a joke in catalan and make me laugh. I am fluent in catalan, I meet people all the time who I talk to in catalan, but, as I’m concentrating so hard on what I’m saying, any joke you tell me will go right over my head, by the time I have found the verbal logic that connects the dots and lets me know it’s a joke, it’s too late for it to be funny.

All of these things I have mentioned, means that if you raise a child knowing more than one language, there is a good chance the child will have a harder time. In slavery days, the half cast kid was never accepted by all races, it works the other way round. The kid who speaks more than one language could find him self lacking friends in both cultures/languages during his teen years.

So yea, there are some down sides (in my experience) to being raised speaking more than one language, but the pros are far more than the cons.

Vincentt's avatar

@athenasgriffin Don’t you hate it when the stubborn, younger you robbed your current you from great opportunities? :)

morphail's avatar

@poisonedantidote “Because of this, if you speak more than one language, you may take a little longer to develop the same social skills, communication skills, and “maturity” of people your same age.”

Do you have any evidence for this at all? In many parts of the world children grow up bilingual, and I’m not aware of any evidence that it impairs their maturity.

Brian1946's avatar

@jailbait

“My mum is Indian and she speaks Urdu/Hindi.”
“I think it’s a wonderful thing I can speak fluent English and Urdu….”

That is wonderful. I would never have guessed that. :-)
Was your father born in the UK?

“English is my fist language.”

When you get in a fight and your fists do your talking for you, do they speak English? ;-)

linguaphile's avatar

Here’s a joke to answer your question…
What do you call someone who speaks two languages?

Bilingual!

What do you call someone who speaks three languages?

Trilingual!

What do you call someone who only speaks one language?

An American.

So, YES, learn more than one language. Hell, while at it, learn a third. Most of the world’s citizens can understand more than one language or at least a number of dialects. They also can communicate in gestures better than Americans. Like others have stated, research has proven over and over that a child who has acquired more than one language has stronger cognitive skills than their poor unilingual cousins. They’re able to decipher and distinguish the difference as young as 18 months, if not earlier!
While you’re at it, don’t forget to teach American Sign Language too and enhance their spatial reasoning—now that’s a whole other ball game!

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

They should at every opportunity. I’m glad my parents spoke to me in their “mother tongues” when I was small——I learned Japanese from my Japanese mother, and Chinese from my Chinese paternal grandmother. My father could have spoke to me in Chinese too, but he was usually too busy working and, when he did speak to us children, he spoke English.

My main tongue is English, but it’s great to know how to speak a little Japanese and some Chinese. I once read somewhere that people who speak more than 1 language have a “broader understanding and feeling of the world around them”, and generally have greater intelligence. It enriches the child’s experience, and can help him/her in later life when he goes out in the real world where he/she might need to know another language for business, getting a job in another country, etc.

Hibernate's avatar

@morphail what @poisonedantidote said it’s true 90% of the time. If you learn a language at a time it takes you a lot less to develop your skills for that particular language. Think back a bit from when you were in school. You learned your native language in preschool and for maybe a year or two then started to learn just ONE more language and later after a few years started the second / third etc language [ you had time to develop them a bit].

Or if that’s to hard to remember try this. GO and pick 2 languages you do not know and try and learn them at the same time. After your vocabulary increases you’ll either start mixing words from those languages or you just speak with the wrong accent. [ you say words from a language with the intonation from another ]

As a kid i tried learning 2 languages at the same time and I couldn’t so well [ it toked a lot more then if I would learn them separately.

@linguaphile 95% from the people living in Italy [ actual Italians that is ] can only speak their mother language. It’s freakin’ annoying when you don’t find someone to speak another language to get some directions [ even at the airport you barely find 1 or 2 people speaking something else than Italian and usually the second persons helps you because he knows nobody else could understand you ].

Stinley's avatar

Thanks for these great answers. I was curious because my family is all just english speaking. My husband is fluent in french but not bilingual. He did try to speak french to our kids but they were just confused! I agree with most that it is a wasted opportunity but I have also read about the delays when learning language as pointed out by @poisonedantidote.

I knew a family with a French mother and English father who spoke no French. They only spoke English to their kids (they lived in England). The kids had no aptitude for any other language, not even French.

Another family I know lived in Paris, English mother and French father. The mother spoke English to the daughter. The daughter’s language acquisistion was delayed but by 7 had caught up. However when the parents divorced, the mum and kid moved to England and the kid refused to speak French to anyone apart from her dad.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@morphail No evidence no, just my personal experience, hence the heavy use of words such as “may, maybe, probably” and so on.

EDIT: regarding maturity, I should have said “perceeved maturity”, when you are missing some words, some may think you are more immature than you really are.

morphail's avatar

@Hibernate Children don’t learn their language in preschool. Children begin to acquire their native language before they go to school, and they acquire it without any formal teaching. In fact it’s impossible for children to not acquire a language, whether they go to school or not, unless they have some sort of development problem. If a child is exposed to more than one language, they end up acquiring more than one language.

You seem to be talking about learning languages later in life, which is a completely different process from how children naturally acquire language.

In many areas of the world, children acquire more than one language, and there is no evidence that this slows them down in any way.

Hibernate's avatar

No no . Don’t get me wrong . Till school they get the basics and they communicate . And in school you do learn A LOT about your language or else you wouldn’t study X language [ literature / grammar / lexic etc] .
I talked about later in life because the question didn’t state a time limit for it .

But learning more than one language at a time it slows them down just like @poisonedantidote stated. One wouldn’t get some jokes and the vocabulary will develop much slower . I did not say it’s WRONG but it’s hard for them since most of the time they talk and sometime they won’t notice they combine words from 2 different languages .
I have to say here that I do it a lot [ for my shame ] . I don’t even notice it until I talk a bit or if someone tells me . Sometime because I’m tired sometimes because I cannot remember the word in that current language . If someone can master X languages without mixing words then good for him but most of us still mix them SOMETIMES .

morphail's avatar

@Hibernate So when you say “learning more than one language at a time it slows them down”, you’re talking about adults learning another language, right? In that case you might be right.

But I thought we were talking about children, because that’s what the question is about. Children up until a certain age (there is disagreement about exactly what that age is) are language-learning machines. They can’t help but acquire the language they’re exposed to. At school they learn the writing system, but by the time they learn to write, they’ve already acquired the language itself.

Acquiring two or more languages as a child is good, and it’s the best time to acquire multiple languages, because it’s so easy. There is no evidence at all that it’s bad, and lots of evidence that it’s beneficial, as @tom_g already said.

MilkyWay's avatar

@Brian1946 lol! Ooops, sorry bout that.
And yes, my dad was born in the UK, he’s British and he’s got British parents :)

Medlang's avatar

fo’sho

athenasgriffin's avatar

@Vincentt Yes. And the younger me was stubborn and stupid enough to rob me of tons of experiences. Children are such a bother, I sometimes wonder why I ever was one. Sigh.

Vincentt's avatar

@Hibernate I, and most everyone I know, often mix up words (i.e. most people have uttered the phrase “what’s <English word x> in Dutch again?”) from both languages, and don’t really consider it bothersome. Perhaps it’s just more “accepted” because most people here speak at least a second language to some degree, which might imply that you’d also be better off being taught two languages in an environment where most people know two or more languages.

@athenasgriffin I feel your pain.

Hibernate's avatar

@Vincentt yes but most of us learn it as ADULTS not from the beginning of the childhood . I already said it’s a good thing but it takes time to master a language . If one learns two at the same time it takes a lot of time to know the same word in those particular languages not to mention that when you learn a new word you’ll want to know it in the other as well .
And there are languages who have a lot of synonyms and it’s hard to understand a particular word . For instance ” TO DO ” can be replaced by at least 10 other verbs in my language while keeping the base .

@morphail it’s easier as a kid but one learns them to only a degree then it takes a lot of time to master . [ months / years / decades ] And I’m not talking here to being a professor but at least above average .

In the end you guys need to understand that I SUPPORT kids learning 2 or 3 languages while they are small but they will only know parts of those . For instance I can talk 2 other languages but I cannot write them and I can write one but I cannot talk it [ besides the ones I can do both writing and speaking ] . And I need a lot of time to practice those to be able to master them .

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Hibernate, I think you may be missing the point of the original question, which is about children learning new languages. And it is clear that children can and do learn multiple languages in a relatively short period of time (i.e. not decades – I don’t see why years should be unreasonable, especially at a young age). Just think how normal it is for Europeans to acquire 2 languages (at a bare minimum) as they are growing up, and often 3 or more.

linguaphile's avatar

Your discussion falls in my interest area but I wanted to make sure I was saying the right thing, so I went on Google scholar and the ERIC database to do some reading. What I’ve found is that when a child learns 2 languages at a very young age several things happen.

If the languages are not mixed up but clearly spoken at different times, i.e. Navajo at home, English on TV, radio, etc, they will acquire both languages equally but at different rates. The knowledge of one language will enhance the knowledge of the other. The languages will not be acquired at exactly the same rate but one will become the first language (L1 in linguistics-speak) and pull the other (L2) along with it, but the L2 will enhance the competency in the L1. Their vocabulary will be more advanced than their peers. (check Cummins if you want to read for yourself)

BUT…... that is only if they have clear and consistent access to both languages. If the languages are used inconsistently, no, mastery won’t occur. Sadly, both languages will suffer.
The problem is that most kids in the US who are in bilinugual homes are not in educated bilingual homes, but in homes that struggle with poverty and low socioeconomic issues. Because of their poverty, the unpredictability of their home lives, their language access is usually inconsistent, leading to language delays in many of these children in their first language even if their L1 is spoken all the time.

Which leads me to the next level of the problem- if a child does not have a strong foundation in their L1, they will not be able to develop a strong L2. Poverty, low education values, ignorance all contribute to weak L1’s, then weak L2’s, but to reiterate my first point, if a child has as strong model for L1 and L2, both will be strong and the child will come out ahead.

I’d like to use my kids as examples- both acquired strong and distinct L1’s and L2’s, both were at the top of their classes in language and vocabulary and had no problem switching back and forth between languages. I could see early on which language was their L1 and their L2 would lag behind, but would catch up, then lag again, until it evened out. My son is 19 and interacts equally well in his L1 and L2— with very minor pragmatic errors in his L2. My daughter is 8 and her L1 is clearly ahead, but she uses her L2 fluently in all conversational situations (she doesn’t use her L2 at school so academic use of L2 hasn’t developed yet).

morphail's avatar

@linguaphile What do you mean by “a strong foundation in their L1”? Don’t all children acquire competence in their L1 whatever their socioeconomic status, level of intelligence, or how well they do in school? Are you suggesting that poverty affects linguistic competence?

Or are you only talking about situations where children are exposed to 2 languages inconsistently?

linguaphile's avatar

No, not all children acquire full competence in their L1 for various reasons, and yes SES can be one of the factors, but there isn’t much research on this topic. I am not saying poverty always affects linguistic competence, no, but it can be one factor in causing a delay in language development.

If you’re talking about acquisition of L1, yes some children have delays. If you are talking about intelligence and how well they do in school, that’s a whole different sphere and I’m looking at them separately. Language acquisition does affect intelligence and how well they do in school (without a strong L1, they will struggle), but someone could have a strong foundation in L1 and still not be intelligent, or do well in school. It’s not correlative both ways.

If you want to read the research—the introduction to this one is a good summary

Then there’s this excerpt from a very mediocre article on wiki “language delay” there’s one part that I’ll quote here:

Language delay is commonly divided into receptive and expressive categories. Receptive language refers to the process of understanding what is said to us. Expressive language refers to the use of words and sentences to communicate what we think, need, and want. Both categories are fundamental in order to be able to communicate with others as well as to understand when others communicate with us.
Language delay is a risk factor for other types of developmental delay, including social, emotional, and cognitive delay, though some children may grow out of these deficits, even excelling where they once lagged, while others may not. One particularly common result of language delay is delayed or inadequate acquisition of reading skills. Reading depends upon an ability to code and decode script (i.e., match speech sounds with symbols, and vice versa). If a child is still struggling to master language and speech, it is very difficult to then learn another level of complexity (writing). Thus, it is crucial that children have facility with language to be successful readers.
Neuroscientist Steven Pinker postulates that a certain form of language delay may be associated with exceptional and innate analytical prowess in some individuals, such as Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman and Edward Teller.
In 2005, researchers found a connection between expressive language delay and a genetic abnormality: a duplicate set of the same genes that are missing in sufferers of Williams-Beuren syndrome.

To finalize my point with something way less academic, I work with kids with L1 delay everyday. It’s my job to get them caught up on L1 delays AND acquire L2—and yes, I’ve seen the impact of SES on their education and whether they recuperate the delay, same as in other areas of education.

Also- to answer your last question—yes, many (not all) of the L1 delays that I’ve seen are because of inconsistent exposure to language, but again, there are some exceptions where the L1 delay is caused by something else.

morphail's avatar

Thanks @linguaphile. I am talking about L1 acquisition. I’m still not sure what poverty has to do with L1 acquisition. The study you link to says nothing about it.

Vincentt's avatar

@Hibernate Sure, I’m just wondering whether it’s that big of a problem not to be able to come up with a certain word now and then. Where are you from, and is it normal there to speak more than one language? If not, that might be why you consider it more of a hindrance than it would be at a place where forgetting words now and then is normal.

@morphail I believe @linguaphile meant that in the US, poverty and being exposed to more than one language seems to be related (i.e. it’s mostly immigrants who are exposed to more than one language, and the poverty rate among immigrants is higher). Since in those circles, access to language is more inconsistent, and inconsistency slows down language acquisition, poverty would imply slower language acquisition.

Hibernate's avatar

@Vincentt where I’m from people are used to write and speak AT LEAST 2 languages and know bare minimum for ANOTHER two . And I’m talking about people with above 8 classes because a lot stop after 8 here [ family problems etc you get the point ] .

I did not talk about forgetting words I was saying it about acquisition .
And I did not mention it first I just followed @poisonedantidote words which I found to be very true .

linguaphile's avatar

Thanks @Vincentt, too!

And- if someone, say an immigrant, with a language delay does not catch up, it prevents him/her from getting advanced jobs and moving up in management to get out of poverty. Another one of the poverty cycles.

Justified's avatar

Oh, definitely! I am Bosnian, but I know English, and speak it well. I say you should, because you can always benefit from it. My parents did so when I was young, and thought I would fail English, but I got straight A’s! As long as you use English occasionally, I think you really should speak your native language. Being the wonderful parent you are, I believe that you can teach your child. My parents are both Bosnian, so they did have trouble learning English, they still do, but they taught me to!

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