Welcome to the board, Hala. I unfortunately don't have btdt advice for you (my son started learning German with me when he was about 5yrs), but I have both seen on this board and read in books ("Growing Up Bilingual from birth to teens" comes immediately to my mind) of children handling
Welcome to the board!
Sarah...mommy to Janessa and Julian
We are raising our children trilingual in similar circumstances. Here is our story (copy and pasted from an old post, I hope that's ok!):
We have been raising our children trilingual more or less since toddlerhood (in the case of dd) and toddler/preschool (in the case of ds): English (my native language), German (dh's native language) and Swedish (the majority language). Both had German and English from birth and we added Swedish to the mix when dd started in daycare and ds started in school. Ds also had Swiss German as a toddler from daycare.
Our children are now 12 and 8 (almost 9). They are very fluent in all three languages, though German is perhaps somewhat weaker than English and Swedish. They are also literate in all three languages (preferred reading language in English; dd also likes to read in German and Swedish; ds can read Swedish and German at the expected grade level but prefers not to :-)). Ds and dd speak only English with each other even though they attend the same Swedish school (their choice). Ds and dd have only been exposed to Swedish through daycare/preschool/school. Everything at home is strictly in English or German.
Some of the things we have done over the years include: sticking very strictly to OPOL (one parent one language) regardless of what language the children answered us with, banning all Swedish from the home (including tv, most books, computer games etc.), reading to the kids at night (we still do this routinely, even though they can read on their own now), ensuring lots of contact with both sides of the family (this forced them to use their minority languages). Ds taught himself how to read. I worked with dd with English reading skills before she started school.
Bottom line: it can be done, but from our experience I would say it takes time, effort and lot of consistency :-).
To address some of your questions:
"I speak with him only arabic and his father only german, but the kid is sooo confused, the poor one is mixing up all the three languages together and up till now he is not able to say one small sentence in any of these languages."
Your son is not confused, he is just at the very beginning of language acquisition. Most multilingual children do not really sort the languages clearly until they are 3 or so. Neither of mine really stopped mixing until they were about 3.5 years old. Actually, they still mix sometimes with people who speak more than one language (if they are being particularly lazy). There is absolutely nothing wrong with mixing the languages, and it doesn't indicate confusion. People often just grab the word that pops into their minds first.
How early kids talk is also highly variable: ds spoke in complete sentences very early, long before he was two. dd only started speaking in complete sentences when she was nearly three.
"I read that during the childhood (till 6 years old) the kid should speak one language only, confronting the kid with several languages will hinder his mental development because language is very important to develop the personality and for forming each person identity."
This is simply not true. There is a lot of literature available on the advantages of growing up multilingual. Try a google search to get started. The CL's recommendation is a very good one as a starting point.
Thanks for your reply, it was very interesting and encouraging, i was discussing it with my husband and we both liked very much your approach to the whole matter, it is possible to be done but it needs discipline and hardwork. wish us luck!!
wish you and your family the best
hala and alex
My family is in the same situation as yours.
Welcome to the board, Hala.I don't have any kids yet, but I am an American living in Finland (my husband is Finnish). I hope that when I have kids, we will do the OPOL with Finnish and English. The schools are set up here that kids start learning a 2nd language at school quite young, so I am assuming my kids will get a 3rd language then. :)
I can't think of any friends doing 3 languages right now, but I know several doing 2. The youngest one I am thinking of was a bit slow and shy to start speaking English with people, but he definitely understood it. Now he is speaking both Finnish and English very well and he's only..almost 4.
Don't give up hope! Just keep going with what you are doing and you're kids will have such an advantage. I wish I had learned a 2nd language at a young age, it would make learning Finnish much easier now (maybe).
Do what feels rights for you! Sometimes you can't believe what you read simply because it doesn't feel right...and that's okay! Your son will figure it out; some take longer than others, and in no way will this affect his mental development....
Hi Hala :-))
Don't worry there is nothing wrong with your son and he not confused.. he is still absorbing all the information.. Children absorb for a while then they start getting it out !!
My 3 1/2 year old son speaks Arabic and German (preschool & stepfather) and he also understands English, but doesn't say much in English. He does though understand all 3 languages very well and will follow directions / requests in any of them.. Recently we enrolled him in a German school and I started concentrating more on the English ans he has started responding to me in English.. when he answers in Arabic I repeat what he said in English and he knows I am teaching him.. and he enjoys it...
He likes to play translating.. I say the word in Arabic or English and he tells me the translation in all the other languages.. I don't speak German, just a few words here and there.. but will learn though the school PTA :-)
Children learn languages better when they are younger because their brains are more able to absorb large amounts of information.. and actually they can learn up to 5 languages at a time.. that is what I was told and taught..
Another example is my neice.. she speaks English, French and Arabic (all very fluently.. )
Good luck Hala.. and don't worry he's just 2.. some kids with only one language don't have a large vocabulary at that age...
~K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple & Serene~