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Jun
5
2011

So you speak Gujarati and he speaks Bengali. Or maybe your spouse is not Indian but speaks Spanish, Russian or Japanese.  And let’s just assume you don’t speak each other’s language so you speak English when you’re together.  What’s your policy with the kids?

In my case, I speak Telugu but my husband speaks Kannada – languages which are eerily similar (I can even read Kannada – no problem) – but which similarity may be even more confusing for the kids (I say dosa, he says dose.  I say kappa, he says kappe (frog)).  So you can imagine the linguistic dissonance when we’re spending time as a family!

The most logical approach would be for me to speak Telugu to the kids, and for him to speak Kannada – thereby rendering our kids blissfully trilingual.  But this is complicated by several factors:  (1) I spend more time with the kids – so they naturally end up speaking way more Telugu; (2) my husband and I speak English to each other (resulting in a rather comical switching of languges depending on who-is-addressing-who at that precise point in the sentence); and (3) given the scarcity of time outside of school/work, I find myself “hogging up” most of this time to push the Telugu.

There doesn’t seem to be an easy solution.  What’s your policy?  We ask the question on our Facebook Page – so let’s collaborate with some ideas!

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22 Responses to “The Dual Language Dilemma”

  1. Marie Curry Says:

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I speak to my daughter in French and my husband is supposed to speak to her in Malayalam, but the same situation is happening where she understands and speaks more French than Malayalam …
    So, we are trying to get her more books and cartoons in Malayalam (or that’s the plan, since she’s still young) so that she has other means than her dad to reinforce that language.

    I grew up being exposed to several languages, and I think that the kids just take everything in … they might not show right away that they understand or can speak a language but it’s somewhere in their brain :)

  2. Aruna Says:

    Thanks Marie! You are right – better to try than to not try at all. I like your reference to “somewhere in their brain…”

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