Is It OK to Speak a Non-Native Language to My Child?

by expert · 2 comments

Is it OK to speak a language to my child that is not my native language?

It is certainly possible and there are families who have established successful trilingual situations this way. The main thing is that you feel comfortable interacting in a language that is not your native one. What about songs, nursery rhymes, and the emotive language of cuddle-time?  It is never too late to learn children’s songs and nursery rhymes in the other language. Ask language teachers or other native speakers to teach you. Otherwise there are tons of resources online!  (see Corey Heller’s article, “Going Non-Native” in the May-June 2007 issue of Multilingual Living Magazine:

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah May 13, 2010 at 9:58 am

As a non-native speaker of French (with a monolingual English husband), I heartily agree. I have been speaking exclusively French with my son since birth (Jan. 2008). While I will never sound like a native, which means he will probably never sound like a native either, we’d much rather raise a child who speaks one language fluently and a second one well (despite an American accent and occasional vocab and grammar oopsies) than a monolingual child who studies a language or two in school and never really “gets” it.

I do miss reading my favorite children’s books to him and singing to him in English, but it’s still worth it. Definitely.

You’re welcome to visit my blog to read more about our adventures and learn more about being a non-native speaker raising children bilingually!


2 Corey May 13, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Sarah! So great to see you here! As you know, I totally agree with you on all accounts. Of course, I have the added benefit of a husband who IS a native speaker. I hope to make it to your blog more often (for those who aren’t familiar with Sarah’s blog, you can find it on the right in the Blogroll: Bringing up Baby Bilingual). Please come back again! I’m so happy to finally have this forum for true interaction and connection (as much as that is possible via cyberspace).


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