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    Wasn’t sure if this is the right thread for it but anyways…

    I’m about to have my first child I’m australian and speak fluent English and my wife is indonesian and speaks fluent indonesian. so I want my child to speak both languages as my wifes parents speak jack all english, and my indoneisan is basic at the best of times.

    So when and how is the best why to start teaching a child to be multilingual, Should we just start talking to it in both languages from birth or should we enfore one language till a certain age and then intoduce a second so the child can differ from the two?



    My cousin in law is going through something simaler, he is engile his wife is chinese their son is a little over a year old now. They speek both english and chinese to him and he is starting to speek back in both chinese and english. Even though his father spends more time with him and speeking more engile to him than chinese ( he can speek both ) his son is picking up chinese faster.


    Hi Matty Alan,

    I’m a teacher, am bilingual (through living overseas) and have bilingual teenage cousins (their Mum is of Italian descent).

    If you have the opportunity to teach your kids two languages from the get-go, do it! The brain is very malleable in the first two years and basically ALL our language is learnt during this time (not words though, just how language works).

    You should speak to your little one in both languages from the get-go. He/she will learn which is which automatically, and will also naturally pick up the ‘rules’ of each language’s grammar. As I can see in my cousins, their English is outstanding and I think this is because they have a ‘whole’ view of language and its structure – really only achievable by critical understanding of how a language works.

    There is a huge body of evidence linking children’s achievement in social, sporting and academic fields with second language acquisition. There is little doubt left that this is one of the most precious gifts you can give your child right from the very start.

    The only other recommendation I can make is ensure they learn written Indonesian too – I have taught many kids who are fluent speakers but cannot read or write their non-English language. This should come about as they learn written English, i.e. as they learn the written word for “dog”, teach them both written words. There must be huge numbers of kids in this position: in NSW the Dept of Education spends masses on training community language teachers so that they can pass on the written (and more complex spoken) language to the next generation.

    Have a fabulous language-fest in your home, and good luck with the little one!


    I was also a language teacher (Indonesian!!) and totally agree with NavChick! Also congrats to you and your wife!




    Hey guys,

    Thanx for the indepth info guys 🙂


    I come from a multilingual family and we just learnt from the word go that there are many words for the same thing. (The only thing I regret is that being the youngest no-one thought to teach me that not every-one spoke different languages and that there are different languages – It came as a huge surprise that certain ways of forming words went together:lol: and when people did not respond it was not because they were being “difficult”:lol:)

    My DD learnt 3 languages (and a smattering of others) before we came to OZ but once we were here she started to speak mainly english. We speak whatever comes up so arguments can be quite interesting!

    My cousins little boy could speak 4 languages by the time he was 5 simply because whoever he was with spoke their own language to him at that time. Now that he is a teen he picks up languages very quickly and is an amazingly confident and capable communicator.

    I have a friend who followed the “learn one and then later learn the other” method and it backfired as it is really hard to enforce speaking a language if they can express themselves adequately allready. (that is probably why my french is terrible – I only started learning it at about 7yo and wednesday was “french day” which meant my mom had absolute peace and quiet the whole day -she still smiles when she talks about it;))


    I speak Italian as well as English and I learned both at the same time. 🙂

    Judi BJudi B

    Kiewiet wrote:

    We speak whatever comes up so arguments can be quite interesting!

    DH learnt from day one he was born in Indonesia of Dutch parents. My MIL would get angry and speak in a mixture of Dutch/Indonesian/English made it hard to know what she was on about as I only speak English.


    Yep, NavChick’s on spot with using all languages at the same time with kids from day one onwards. Sometimes it helps if you’re consistent with using your own native tongue/language as kids will pick up some ‘errors’ if you’re not fluent. However if you’re able to use both language to talk about some simple concepts, then do so.

    My kids are bilingual – English and Auslan (Aust. Sign Language as I am deaf) and they’re pretty fluent in both. They re also picking up some german from their grandparents as well. From young age, their communication ability were pretty advanced for their age compared to other kids, however now they’re at par with the rest (apart from their reading level, though – quite advanced still).

    If your wife could translate very well between English and Indonesian, then get a couple of great small kid storybook and read it to the baby when s/he can focus on you longer than 5 mins. Take turns reading the same book with different languages – dont switch half way through the story, just go with one language at a reading session and your wife do other session with Indonesian. Does this make sense? We did this with our kids, especially with the book “Hairy Maclary from the Donaldson’s Dairy” by Lynley Dodd – a wonderful book – we took turns signing and reading aloud from the book to kids. They loved the book and my oldest still remembers how it goes about 10 years later!! :tup:

    Pop back if you wants more details.

    And Congratulations on the incoming baby! Enjoy every day with the baby – time goes so fast, despite loss of sleep over the years! 😉

    Cheers! :hug:


    Congratulations to you both, how very exciting. My Australian cousin is married to a Japanese sheila and they spend lots of time in Australia, Japan and Indonesia. The children are so lucky as they are absorbing three great languages and there cultures.

    The critical period in children is those very early years so along with speaking different languages if you can both provide a caring, inclusive and peaceful environment for your baby he/she will learn easily all the experiences that sorround his/her centre of the universe. Lots of positive interaction and your baby will flourish in more than just the languages that are part of your household.

    Of all the emphasis that politicians, media and business put on health care, education, defence etc you would think parenting is a second tier requirement for a good society. In my book good parenting is number one when it comes to creating well balanced children and communities. The greatest privilege a child can have is a loving home environment full of support and natural opportunities. Get that right and your multi-lingual children will be able to thank you in lots of different ways in the years to come. I tend to go slightly off topic but I hope being a Dad is one of the best things you will ever do. 😀

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