Foreign Language for Babies?

I know that teaching babies and toddlers foreign languages is very popular right now (Dora, anyone?) but here’s my question. Is it weird? Is it one of those “pushy parents” things to do? Is it trying too hard to give your child every possible advantage?

Here’s the thing. Dave is Chinese. While he and his siblings aren’t fluent in the language (expect for James and his wife…hi guys!) his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles all speak Chinese.  I think it would be great for our kids to be able to speak Chinese with their grandparents and relatives. Of course, this means that I would have to learn more than my 25 words, and Dave would have to brush up on his speaking skills considerably. How hard should we try to teach our kids this language? It would be easier if Dave’s parents lived closer, then we could just ask them to only speak Chinese when they are around our kids. Instead, Dave and I will have to learn it and teach it, and all the native speakers will play more supportive roles.

What do you think? I hope our kids will have some good language genes in them. Dave’s dad speaks 4 languages fluently (Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish and English) and my dad speaks 3 (English, Spanish and Russian) and reads 2 (Hebrew and New Testament Greek.) Maybe a little of that will get passed down to our kids. I love the challenge of learning a new language (I’ve taken 2 years of both Spanish and Latin), but Chinese scares me a little.  All those tones. I hate sounding stupid and I know I will sound so white for the longest time. I may just have to swallow my pride and go for it though. Here’s hoping the library has lots of Chinese language cds.

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    • mom
    • July 23rd, 2010

    don’t forget the french influence!

  1. Oh Ali, if you can do it, go for it! I know people who have done it before and they say the best way is for one parent to only speak one laugage to the baby and the other parent the other…so if you play your cards right only Dave has to learn! Who knows he is speaking it all the time you might just pick it up too.

    • Melissa
    • July 29th, 2010

    I think it may be useful for you to teach Chinese to the baby/toddler.
    There are so many times where I wish I knew Chinese… especially the times when Hao Gung starts talking to me half in English and half in Chinese. I try to pretend I understand sometimes, but that doesn’t always work unfortunately. 🙂

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