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Neeranam

Thai Or English

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My daughter is learning to speak. My wife and I would like her, obviously, to be fluent in both our native languages(Thai and English). We sat down together last night and looked at a kid's book, in which the words were written in Thai and English. She points to pictures and says the Thai word.

She is going to a kindergarden all day, five days a week.

The big question is do I say, e.g "'ใช่ช้างสองเชื่ก'(chai chang song cheuak), 'yes, two elephants', 'No, not ช้าง, elephant', or 'yes, elephant, ช้าง'" ?

One of my mates suggested that I speak only English to her, all the time. Another said that I should say both words and try to explain the different languages (confuses her at the moment). I would like to hear advice from those who know.

I feel that I should speak English to her all the time in the house when alone with her. I, of course, want what is best for my daughter. I do, however, feel awkward when socializing with Thai friends who do not understand English, as they don't understand what I am saying. If I change from Thai to English will this confuse her, or will she maybe be able to take it in her stride?

I certainly don't want her to go to an International Kindergarten. To complicate things, we plan to go to Spain in a few years, for a couple of years, to live/work. This is one reason I want her to learn her native language well.

Should my wife and I try to speak only one language when together? Before she was born we spoke Thai most of the time, except when with those who only spoke English.

I welcome any ideas on the best way for her development in two languages, from the experts out there, or anyone else who can share their experience.

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Speak english with her all the time. I am sure your Thai friends will understand if you just explain to them in thai that you want your daughter to be fluent in english. She will not be confused by learning more than one language at a time. I have a friend whose son could speak german, english and thai by the time he was 7.

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Apparently, Tiger Woods had English speech problems in his early years.As soon as his mom stopped talking to him in Thai his English speech improved.

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I think conventional wisdom is to do what others have recommended: You speak English with her and mommy uses Thai. Since the predominant language around her is Thai it's even more important that you stick to that.

Kids will need a little more time when learning 2 languages from the get-go (even if you're Eldrick Woods) but don't let that discourage you. The one thing I've seen so far (which I think will go away after pre-school starts again for our 3 and a half year old, is that the english grammar gets all screwed up initially when heavily exposed to Thai (go figure since we just spent 4 months in Thailand :o ). However, kids emulate their surroundings (specially their parents...).

/// dfw

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My first marriage was to a Spanish lady. (Great song - Dubliners). My daughter always knew when she was in trouble, because a flood of Spanish came frothing forth. When asked in Spain by her cousins whether she was Spanish, she always shouted 'No, I'm ENGLISH'. We soke both Spanish and English at home, wherever that may have been (UK, Spain, Iran, Saudi, Libya).

My daughter picked up Farsi very easily, when in Iran.

Now teaches Spanish and French in UK Secondary schools.

But until she was about six or seven she did very little to distinguish between the languages. Just used the more convenient word. Then, attending an English-speaking school, she learnt to compartmentalise the languages. And has since translated James Joyce into Spanish - which I think is remarkable.

With my present seven-year-old, she speaks mainly Thai, going to a Thai school, but when saying things like 'Good Morning' her accent is spot-on. I have not pushed the Angrit yet, but do insist that an 'r' sounds rrrrrright.

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Apparently, Tiger Woods had English speech problems in his early years.As soon as his mom stopped talking to him in Thai his English speech improved.

I use to work where he lives (Tiger) I said Sawadee to him and Right away he asked how do u know that? I am Half Thai Half American Amerasian My Dad says it is. I speak some thai and Mostly english He said to me You don't look thai I said Oh Well :o

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I have just done a search on the net, and it seems that you guys are right. I should speak English all the time, and the mother should speak Thai.

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Unless you are Thai - and I mean a native speaker of the Thai language - I strongly suggest you do NOT speak Thai with your daughter at all.

I have been here over 30 years and speak, read and write pretty fluent Thai (I am English, my wife is Thai) but when our daughter was born I readily accepted my wife's request that I speak only English with her, our daughter, because my Thai accent, vocabulary and syntax were not absolutely correct.

This has proved to be a wise decision because my daughter - now 21 - is bi-lingual and totally fluent in both languages.

I assume you are in Thailand, and if so there are plenty of people around your daughter from whom she will learn Thai (but keep her away from Issan maids etc as much as possible), you are probably one of the few people close to her who speaks proper English, so you should concentrate on teaching her that language and not confuse her young mind with your undoubtedly weird Thai pronunciation!

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Well, I can give you my own example:

I have raised my adopted daughter from birth (actually day 2) till now where she is 17 years and 8 months old.

She has never been to international school, never been living abroad, she has only been 5 days with me in Singapore. (English-speaking environment)

I have always insisted on speaking ONLY English with her, so today she is indeed very good at the language. She also understands all kind of jokes, understands irony (something Thais generally don't do), she watches English movies, and she can translate into Thai so fast that most people hardly have time to breathe.

During her school days, she is presently attending Grade 6 High School, she has NEVER once been able to have a conversation with any of her English teachers, simply because none of them could speak English. They taught the language but couldn't speak it. (very sad indeed, but this is the quality of Thai schools, and we are here talking about very well-known schools in my area).

I think this should answer your questions fairly well.

Oh, and by the way. There has always been this discussion whether, when a kid is learning a second language (at home), one should from day one: A: Correct the grammars immediately, or B: Just let the child talk as much as possible, don't interrupt, the kid is trying to express itself (the grammar lessons can come later)

You'll have to decide yourself on this one, since the "experts' differs on which is the best.

Good luck with your efforts, and don't worry a thing, things will be fine, believe me, you will give the child a fine start of the (language) life, how many kids gets the opportunity to be able to speak two languages before the age of six?

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You should speak to her in English and your wife in Thai.

Then she will learn the two together and there will be no confusion.

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Apparently, Tiger Woods had English speech problems in his early years.As soon as his mom stopped talking to him in Thai his English speech improved.

And his golf got better!

Now look at him. He's got a girlfriend/wife - whatever and his game has gone to sh1t! :o

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Apparently, Tiger Woods had English speech problems in his early years.As soon as his mom stopped talking to him in Thai his English speech improved.

And his golf got better!

Now look at him. He's got a girlfriend/wife - whatever and his game has gone to sh1t! :o

Actually , his scoring average is quite similar to that before his relationship. The thing is, other players have risen up and gotten better, thus he doesn't win as often these days.And winning is what counts for world ranking points.

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I am bi-lingual and so are most of my friends are the same. Children learn languages very quickly, so do as suggested: you speak to her in english and your wife speaks in thai. the problem will come later when she goes to school. if she goes to thai school, you will probably find that her written english will suffer, so will have to teach her at home.

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I myself speaks fluently Laos, Thai, English, and French (from school) and i never had any kind of problems with language. But i do not know how to read or write in Laos and Thai. Now my daughter, shes 2, speaks Spanish (from her dad), Laos, and English, and understands Thai. Im starting to pick up Spanish here and there too. Eventually she will get everything down. And later in her future, knowing 2 languages will become an advantage to her. Give her some time, she is only beginning to talk.

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Thanks a lot to you all for the advice, especially p brownstone and snapshot.

I sometimes think my Thai is good enough but, of course it is not, my pronunciation is terrible.

One thing that I will try and put a stop to is some of the friends jokingly trying to get her to speak Isarn(where we live).

I will try not to worry too much and let things happen naturally.

I wonder when I should take her to the golf driving range :o

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