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Expert Q&A

Will speaking to my child in my native language make it harder for him to learn English when he goes to school?

Before children start school, they may be exposed to English on TV, in the playground, and in the print they see on cereal boxes and street signs. Children will learn a lot about English from the environment around them. If your child has also had some formal exposure to English, such as going to a playgroup in which English is the primary language spoken, then school can provide additional opportunities for him to learn the language.

Children and teachers alike can serve as models, helping your child communicate what he knows and can do. You may even be surprised by how quickly he picks up the language as he plays and learns alongside other English-speaking children. If your child has had no formal exposure to English, he will use what he knows about his native language to learn English — which will be a major task. Talk with your child’s teacher about your goals for your child, as well as any concerns you have.

Excerpt from “Talking with Children.” Reprinted with permission from PBS Parents .

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