Speaking Different Languages…at Once
Newborn photographer Hampshire explores speaking different languages.. ….As many of you may know, I’ve been learning French in my spare time when I’m not creating beautiful memories of my littlest visitors to my lovely newborn photography studio. It started after lockdown when I thought I needed a new challenge. Learning French is definitely a challenge, but my French tutor Natalie is a great help and so is my Duolingo French app. I hope that soon I can get to visit France and put what I am learning into practise.
Learning French as an adult is quite tough; I certainly don’t recall it being that difficult when I studied it as a child. Occasionally, I get to meet mummies living in England where English isn’t their first language and they’re bringing their child up as bilingual. I am always so amazed how quickly children can learn two languages from an early age.
A Very Early Start
I did a little research into how children learn foreign languages. I was amazed to find out that babies start to learn languages when they listen in the womb. Between six to 10 months’ old, babies learn language from their own environment and this is mainly from their mothers. I find it incredible how babies from a young age can learn different languages and that they start to speak their first words at six to 12 months. For me, it’s really interesting to find out what language their first word is in. It could be seen as confusing for a baby to learn two languages, but they do manage it extremely well. There is evidence that babies who are bilingual learn English at the same rate as a baby that only learns English.
My Multilingual Visitors
There are three families that I’ve been fortunate to meet at my newborn photography studio at Cams Hall who come to mind when I thought about writing this blog post.
One of my lovely families – Mum Sarah, who is French and dad, Oliver who is English, are bringing up Rebecca bilingual. I asked Sarah to share her views, which you can read further down in this blog post. Alice’s mummy and daddy are both Italian, and Alice will grow up in an Italian environment, with Italian being their first language. Monika came to the studio with Jakub. Both parents are Polish and they have decided to bring up Jakub’s little sister, now two years’ old, speaking only Polish at home; I’m sure they will take the same approach for Jakub. They wanted her to communicate with family in Poland. Their fear of bringing her up learning English as her first language would mean she wouldn’t be as fluent in Polish. Their view is that living in England, she would learn English very quickly with communicating with other children at nurseries and school.
Here are Sarah’s views on bringing up Rebecca as bilingual.
Sarah and Oliver had decided it was a natural decision for them to speak to Rebecca in both languages. They believe it is a bonus for her in her life that she will be able to speak two different languages and also have a knowledge of two different cultures.
Like my evidence above that shows that babies hear languages being spoken to them in the womb, Sarah and Oliver decided to speak to their baby before she was born. Rebecca probably heard their voices as she would kick quite a lot in response to be being spoken to. Since being born, Rebecca has been learning both English and French in her everyday communication with her mum and dad. Rebecca and Oliver sing, read and play music in both languages. Her world is French and English.
Sarah’s view is that even though Rebecca is only four months old, she feels she does understand specific words like “nappy” “milk bottle”, “maman”, and “papa”. Sarah and Oliver haven’t experienced other families bringing their children up bilingually personally, but know of family members who have experience of other families being brought up speaking both languages.
Perhaps Rebecca will be able to teach me a few things about the French language. I am sure she will learn quicker than me for sure! I am pretty certain I will continue to keep in touch with Sarah and Oliver, and I can’t wait to see how Rebecca grows up learning both French and English.