The fact that we, in Mauritius and Rodrigues, speak three and sometimes four languages is a blessing. Question is should you be speaking several languages to your baby? The answer is yes. The little minds of babies and toddlers are like sponges they are ready to absorb knowledge and they are hungry to learn.
Are you worried you’ll confuse the little one? You won’t. They will quickly learn to tell the difference between the languages you’re speaking to them, especially when they hit the six-month mark and their world starts to make more sense.
What you should do is stick to one language when speaking to your children. You can speak three languages throughout the day to the child, but keep your conversations in one language until the child is able to differentiate between languages.
How to get it done
To help your child better grasp the different languages, you can have one person speak only one language, e.g. Dad can speak Creole, Mom can speak English and Grandparents can speak French or you can mix it however.
Again to avoid confusion try to stick to one language per person until the child is easily able to differentiate between languages.
Also your child will start to enjoy their favourite shows on TV or on YouTube, don’t limit the child to only one language, they are at the stage where the more exposure they receive the more beneficial it will be for them.
It takes time
They are not going to get it all right at one go. It will take a little time, don’t worry if you feel they may not be catching on, it will come slowly but surely. He or she will mix things up sometimes not getting words right, take the time to explain to them, let’s say you’re speaking in English to the little one and she points to the dog and says ‘cat’ you can correct her by saying ‘dog’ and making her repeat after you.
Tricks of the trade
As they grow older try little games, if you are out and about or even around the house, ask them to identify objects, have them do it in three languages or even four. You will be surprised as to how quick catch on and grow their vocabulary.
Singing, reading and everyday conversations help. Remember to pronounce and speak clearly. Watch as they catch on to what you’re telling them and build their vocabulary in different languages. You will be pleasantly surprised as you watch them learn.