A fellow parent’s child rearing experience points out an interesting concept on raising children to be trilingual in Chinese, Spanish (or other category 1 language), and English. This probably applies best to Chinese speaking household where English is not used much.
- Have the child attend Spanish-English immersion school starting kindergarten or earlier. There is a good chance English will start to be introduced around 2-3rd grade. Spanish is easier to learn even compared to English, and the child can read chapter books fairly early in early elementary school.
- Do lots of Chinese homeschooling with CLE (Chinese language ecosystem) at home as discussed before. Get reading level up quickly as described before.
- Minimal or no English at home. Since the child has not formally learned English at school and does not get to speak English at home, he only gets a little of English exposure and won’t be as comfortable playing with and interacting with non-school individuals in English. The goal is for the child to prefer Chinese outside of school. At school, it is mainly Spanish.
- When English is introduced and taught more and more at school, the child can learn English fairly readily, due to its similarity with Spanish and with all the English ecosystem outside of school and home. After a few years of learning, the child’s English may get close to that of monolingual kids.
- The overall “scheme” is to for the child to learn an easier (but closely related to English) minority language at school and a difficult minority language at home. Then, add English, the community / majority language, at ~ third grade. Of course, time constraint will, as always, be the main factor in determining the proficiency of the various languages. There is still no getting around needing to cut back on other commitments if the child is to have equivalent proficiency in English and Chinese compared to other children (matched for age and intelligence) learning just English and Chinese but not Spanish. But, when the other children start putting time into learning Spanish (or other category 1 language such as French) in middle school or high school, things can even out, with better Spanish accent to boot.