How did a 4-year old girl learn 7 languages?
I started talking with Bella in Russian and English from the very first days of her life, and I tried to keep a balance with these languages (ie about the same number of hours per week of communication in both languages).
Within 10 months, we began to slowly introduce French into our everyday communication. But in French we talked much less (3 times a week for 1 hour). Nevertheless, the results in French were no worse than in Russian and English.
Bella perfectly understood speech in all 3 languages and could build sentences of 3-4 words. I think, at the heart of her success lies a sincere interest in communication in different languages.
Bella really likes to communicate in different languages. Most likely, Bella felt that I was interested in learning languages and I was so happy with her successes that she took up my interest in languages too.
Last year we visited China, Germany, Italy, Australia, USA, Canada, Vietnam, Holland. In each country, Bella had the opportunity to communicate with the locals in their own language (or in English).
In most cases, I see that languages help learn others but sometimes the construction from one language the child carries into other languages. I wrote about this here
The basic rules for the education of artificial multilingual:
1) to start communicating with the child in different languages, you need to start as early as possible, preferably before the end of the first year. Then the child will perceive languages quite naturally without any resistance from outside. The earlier a child begins to hear speech in one or another language, the closer his or her level will be to that of a native.
2) each language should be studied by the immersion method; without using translation into other languages
3) it is necessary to create a positive attitude towards learning the language, i.e. invent interesting activities for communication in the language (for example, fun board games, walks, reading interesting children’s books, etc.)
Do you help Bella learn languages, or does she exclusively deal with teachers or native speakers?
I myself deal with Bella in Russian and English. I also read some books with her in French. Sometimes I help teach her Chinese characters. But otherwise Bella speaks languages with teachers who are native speakers.
However, I try to offer the teachers interesting options for conducting the classes.
For example, with the French teacher Bella is engaged in cooking, with the German teacher drawing, with the Chinese teacher it’s music, with the Spanish teacher the studies it’s chemistry.
Also from time to time we arrange entertainment trips in different languages. With her teachers, Bella goes to the zoo, to the amusement park, to the museum, to the aquarium and so on.
The last language (Italian) Bella chose herself and persuaded me to find an Italian teacher for her. Bella rarely confuses words from different languages.
Usually, if she can not remember the word, she just asks me how this word will be in the right language.
We also arrange for Bella in our joint home language classes with other children. In those, the teacher speaks each language with 2-3 children at once. Children find it more fun to practice the language in a mini group.
We have not notice any negative influence of fame on her. And we ourselves try to prevent Bella from feeling like a star, a genius, or some sort of special child. Bella is an ordinary child, just in her life sometimes they are shooting her on TV.
Up to 3 years of age, the child learns the language at the subconscious level (without rules and grammar) and only at an older age the child already perceives the language as foreign.
Provided that the child enjoys learning languages and does so with a positive attitude.
We never planned to publicize this at all even her TV appearance happened quite by accident.