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Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh are probably the most multi-cultural cities in Egypt. Not only are there intermarriages between Egyptians and other nationalities, but there is a growing trend of intermarriages between foreigners of different ethnic groups.  The offspring of these different nationalities are most often exposed to 2 or more languages from the time they are born.

 

A child is born with the ability to speak every language spoken in the world. Their brains will discard any language that is not spoken around them or to them. It is advisable for parents of different nationalities to speak to their child exclusively in their native language to expose the child to what is called the mother tongue. This should be done even if the mother is able to speak the father’s language or vice versa. It doesn’t matter how you speak to each other, the child is absorbing how you speak to them. I’ve met several parents who speak to each other in English, but speak to their children in Arabic or Russian for example. Believe it or not, the child is gaining exposure and meaning to the English language even if you never speak

 

it to them. Since this language was spoken in the home, the child’s brain did not discard this language. Later you will discover when your child is immersed in an English Language school; they tend to learn to speak English much faster than children that have not heard English spoken at all. In other words children will understand a language before they start speaking.

 

It is not unusual for children in multi-lingual families to appear to have a delay in speech. A child who is exposed to only one language will typically began speaking faster than a child exposed to 2 or more languages. Most children began to speak a few words around the age of two.  Multi-lingual children can began speaking much later than this. Children can even mix the languages together prior to age 3, this is not unusual. Around 3 years old you will find the children speaking 2, 3 and even more languages if they have been exposed to them, fluently. And they automatically know who to speak the language to.  They know to speak to the father in Arabic, Mom in German, and their teacher in English, for example. They also tend to seek out play mates who speak to common language with them. However I advise that they play with a child speaking another language, believe it or not, children can learn to speak another language just from interacting with other children, even faster than their interaction with adults.

 

So, if you want to raise your children to speak multiple languages it is advisable to expose them to the additional language by “immersing” them into the language. What this means is that ONLY the new language should be spoken during s specific time frame in a conversational format, as if the child already speaks the language. They learn how to converse in the language and not simple a few foreign words. Honestly, how helpful is it for your child to know all the vegetables in French, if they can’t have a conversation with a French speaker. The whole purpose of learning a new language is for the purpose of conversing.

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