Hi Emily. Any tips or literature about how to teach kids more than one language from the start? My native language is Portuguese, and my wife’s is Spanish. We live in the U.S. We are thinking each one of us will speak to the kid in our native language and they will eventually learn English outside, but curious to hear your thoughts.—Pedro
Language development in kids is a pretty magical thing. It can feel magical in even one language, and watching a kid who is learning multiple languages has its own wonders. Broadly, the system you describe is exactly what people recommend. Each parent talks consistently in one language, and then the environment outside the home provides a third. Consistency is important here, especially with the non-English languages. Once your child gets out in the world, they’ll be using English most or all of the time. So keeping up the Portuguese and Spanish at home is necessary if you want to maintain that language.
A couple of notes.
First, there are some interesting books on the subject, which you might enjoy. One that is not precisely on this question is How You Say It, by Katherine Kinzler. I did an interview with her, which you can read here.
Second, sometimes when children are exposed to multiple languages, it can appear that their language development is slower. This is not generally true — the number of words is the same on average — but since they’re in multiple languages, it can be harder to count. This isn’t something to worry about, just something to be aware of.