Which language to use at home with baby?

This advice probably comes from mostly-single language environments like US or U.K. where the psychologists or others think bilingual will give your child some complex and other nonsense.

1.2 billion people in India speak atleast 2 languages at home, if not 3. It’s perfectly fine for that “tiny” little brain contrary to what experts might think. Similarly, with people in Indonesia, Switzerland, Singapore etc.

Just speak whatever you’re comfortable even if that means intra-sentence bilingual.


of course. Genuine bilingual is superior.

Well no. Biligual is good, but it’s better to be better in English than in Chinese. I feel like if you focus on just one now it should definitely be English.

You can easily get both. Trust me, I’ve done it.

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In both Linguistics and Education, we were always told the one parent/one language works better, less confusing. Mind you, done studies said language skills in a bilingual child developed a bit slower than mono lingual peers but it was nothing to worry about but rather part of processing and distinguishing between languages.


Also, research shows that bilinguals have a much easier time than monolinguals attaining further languages.



Bedtime stories are a must. Veteran of 50 Magic Tree House books here.


How about grandparents speak Taiwanese/Hakka, parents speak English, and schooling in Chinese (if you’re in Taiwan). Make sure to pick up literacy, that’s the biggest hurdle for many.

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I think this is probably the case, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared and have a plan (that you can always choose not to follow later on) :+1:

I don’t really have much to add with any conviction, all I can say is for me personally my parents made a concerted effort to raise me as an English speaker first (I grew up in America) and I feel like that was ultimately a mistake. They tried to push other languages on me later on and by then I was quite resistant. The other thing is with my older son, we threw multiple languages at him from the get go and as mentioned by someone else, he was indeed a bit delayed in speaking himself. But as soon as he finally trusted himself to start speaking that was no longer the case and it was a hundred miles an hour all the time lol.

btw, I would really like to ask for people’s opinion on my own kids/language speaking. Do you mind if I do that in this thread?

We tried “English with dad, Chinese with mom.” We tried “English at home Chinese outside.” Maybe we’re just terrible with being consistent, but we found these difficult to uphold in practice.

Finally, we decided to just speak whichever language our kids are weaker in. It changes. There’s a huge hodpodge of languages at our house. But it works for us.

I read to my son in Chinese and ask him to translate the stories into English. He loves translating. My daughter isn’t quite at that level yet.

Do whatever works for you. You don’t need to have any fixed rules. Just make sure that both languages are present in some form. That’s all that matters.


I appreciate this very much. Thanks!

I feel two approaches have been implemented with great success for decades:

a. One parent, one language. Two different languages total. Ideally, native speakers in the two languages (the conversations will get more complex with age, among other reasons).
b. Both parents the same language at home, in a country where the official language is different from the one spoken at home.

This works and I personally would not experiment with anything else. Of course there could be variations if you want your kids to know three languages.


Great point! I was really fascinated when I visited Singapore and how everything was a fusion of multiple languages/cultures without much of an eastern vs western or us vs them mindset that’s common when people talk about bilingual education

Yes absolutely! Feel free to post anything you’d like

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I have a strong feeling that’s what’s going to end up happening to us too, given that neither of us is a big fan of fixed rules… Thanks for sharing!

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I’m still trying to figure this out. I am a native Spanish speaker and my wife is Taiwanese.
I’m leaning towards me speaking in Spanish, the wife in Chinese. but what about conversations between my wife and me in front of the baby? English?

I figured its more important for me that the baby learns Spanish since English will be picked up at school, movies at home, etc.

Use whatever language you and your wife feel comfortable to use. In this case, is more important that your wife understand you than your kid. :wink:

That’s true. It’s possible that the only source for your baby to learn Spanish is you. If possible, bring you wife to speak some Spanish as well. The baby will learn Chinese on school anyway. :2cents:

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I’m skeptical of any rigid plan such as “each parent shall only speak one language.” I don’t think we could do that in our house. My wife and I both speak English and Mandarin, and switch back and forth any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. We do this with each other and with the kids, from birth on. This was not a plan but just the way we live.

Three kids, about to begin second grade, first grade, and preschool. They all speak both languages quite well, naturally, without lessons or instruction. So I agree with those who say “kids are smart,” and “it will be OK, don’t stress about it.”

Reading and writing Chinese characters will be the hard part if the kids don’t have formal instruction. But listening and speaking? Just talk with them, a lot, and they’ll pick up either / both languages.


True that! lol

Yeah, I want my kid to be able to communicate with the Spanish-speaking part of the family.

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In our case I spoke english, mother spoke mandarin and grandparents spoke taiwanese. The reason was we were all most fluent kn each language and the kid picked up SUPER fast and quite fluent. Once she started kindy we were all more flexible. I mean my chinese has an accent, her mkms e.glish has an accent and old true blood taiwanese have wierd mandarin. She was quite fluent in all 3 in comparisin to her peers jn any given language.

I would love to get a group together with more foreign kids from other languages like vietnamese, german, indonesian, spanish etc. Sometimes it jsnt just the language, but the logic. They pick up totally different ways of thinking, and long term turn into really smart cookies! Do.t wokrry about short term, elementary school grammar quizes, not at all the important part of developing a kids brain.

Edit. I read this book back when I ran a school here. It helped immensely on opening.up my perspectives. Then when my daughter was on the way I read it again, and again when.she was a few years old. Have bought a dozen or so copies for friends.and family expecting (english speakers). It is one of the best reads I have read, despite disagreeing.with many points. Really opens up your eyes, as a teacher, parent, social worker etc. Highly recommended.