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I'm not fluent in English; how should I teach my daughter?
Q: In our house we speak Telugu, which is our mother tongue, but I want to teach my daughter English. I can teach her some words, but I can't speak English fluently. Are any books or classes available, or is it better for her to learn in day care?
A: If your daughter is going to grow up in the United States, it is indeed important that she learn to speak English. But that doesn’t mean that she should have to give up Telugu. Having her spend some time in an English-speaking preschool group will definitely help her learn English. But, even more important, will be having you speak English to her. So why don’t you learn English with her? I don’t know where you live, so I can’t be too specific, but almost every vocational-technical school or community college in America has a course entitled something like “English As A Second Language.” Enroll in one of these courses yourself and share reading and lesson assignments with your daughter. And go to your public library and check out some simple books for young children. There are many that have appealing pictures accompanied by just two or three words of text. Read those to her and look at the pictures together. But continue to speak your native tongue part of the time. Don’t worry about confusing her. She will be able to learn both languages with little difficulty.