Matthew Settle Hopes to Raise a Bilingual Baby

10/19/2010 at 09:00 AM ET

DMAR/Splash News Online

After splitting from wife Naama Nativ earlier this year, Matthew Settle says the two continue to focus on raising their daughter Aven Angelica, 19 months.

“She’s a wonderful kid and super smart. She’s learning two languages now!” the Gossip Girl star told PEOPLE Monday night at the Elton John AIDS Foundation‘s ninth annual benefit “An Enduring Vision.”

“She’s learning English and Hebrew and we play a little Italian and French for her,” Settle, 41, said.

What are the toddler’s favorite words?

“She’s only 19 months old and usually when you’re learning several languages, it takes longer for you to speak,” he explains. “She mostly speaks gibberish, but it’s as if she’s talking about everything!”

Settle added that she’s even starting to take after him. “Hopefully she’s more like her mother and less like her father, but she seems to be into everything and have an incredibly curious mind like her father, so hopefully it won’t get her in trouble.”

— Carlos Greer

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 19 comments

india on

Oh Yeah..MY KID IS SOOOO SMART! 4 languages at 19 Months… she mostly speaks gibberish. BUT she can tie her shoes, drive the car and navigate the WEB like a pro! My spawn is AWESOME!

sophie on

When I was a baby I was trilingual (english dutch and Hebrew), the problem is you need to keep it up like my cousins who used to sing and converse in Italian when they were little. Now they aren’t really to because their father stopped speaking to them in it (and they weren’t in lessons). And while I never had a lesson in dutch I am fluent in the language because my dad spoke it to from the moment I was born and we visited the country often.

I think it’s great thing to do, raise your child bi/trilingual, new languages are such a hard thing to learn later on in life.

Also Aven sounds like such a cutie, and Matthew sounds like such a lovely father.

sophie on

Wow your spawn does sound awesome india… Drive the car AND navigate the web? How does its feet reach the pedals?

He’s a proud papa bigging up his kids achievments, all parents do that. Just because he’s a celebrity doesn’t mean he loses all bragging priviledges. I think its really sweet actually.

Kay on

Sounds like Aven might be overwhelmed and confused with all of the different languages. It seems like it would be easier for a young child to begin to learn one language well enough to communicate, and then add the others. It would also be easier if the parents speak the languages in daily life instead of playing them for the child.

mommyof2 on

i think it is a great thing to learn different languauges. i wish i was taught my italian heritage when i was younger…

Jill on

I think it is wonderful that they are teaching her mutliple languages. My nephew was able to count to 10 in Japan, English, Italian and Polish by the time he was 2. Thanks to the baby sitting of my grandparents (grandma was fluent in Italian and grandpa fluent in Japan and Polish). The only thing kept up somewhat was Italian, but not enough for him to have speak, only understand. Same with me. I really wish more parents taught their children other languages. It is so nice for me now to be able to understand all of my cousins who live in Italy when they speak. I wish I could speak back!

India you are soooo lucky!!

R on

at least he say “Hopefully she’s more like her mother and less like her father”… I hope that too. It would be more worth for Aven if he stop to date young chicks and visit night clubs. Although its wonderful to speak many languages – but a loving family is the most important thing for a child!

eva on

Actually no.The best way to raise a bilingual child is to fully immerse him or her in the languages that he/she will be communicating with and let their developing brains do the rest.They might appear to be confused at first but they are just taking their time to process the information,which they are more than capable of doing.There is no limit to what a young,health brain can do,so sure,people may decide to wait to introduce a second language out of fear of exhausting their minds but a)they will not get tired of learning,children CAN do it and benefit from challenges and stimuli,it’s not as if they are going hungry or being tortured,they are just being exposed to something extra and b) their language skills will be inferior the longer the family waits to introduce the second language.They can still communicate quite well even if they are mixing words and making up things here and there,in a matter of months of solid and patient bilingual communication they will speak and understand both languages fluently and with ease.The longer parents wait,they more difficult it will be and the less likely it is that they will be bilingual.The challenges get bigger and bigger as they get older,with other children speaking only English and being mocked by others,so the sooner the bases are laid the better.

Cheers,mom of trilingual eleven year old daughter.

Molly on

R, must you bring nastiness into this.

Anyway, I see this as a positive thing. I wish more parents encouraged multiple languages to their kids.

Jo Ann on

Some people, seriously…
The best time to learn a language is when you are a kid. And if your parents are a mixed couple (not only racial, but national or/and cultural), even better. I spoke three languages when I was 3 yo and started speaking late too.
And guess what. English is my 4th language, doesn’t seem like I was all confused when I was a kid, does it?
(Arg.)

CelebBabyLover on

I think it’s great that Matthew and Naama are teaching Aven other languages! πŸ™‚

Kerry on

One hot dad, trying his best with his precious little child!!!

MiB on

I am a poor confused woman with no proper grasp of any language since I grew up with 3 languages at home. No, wait, I am more or less fluent in 3 languages (though I only count one of them as my “mother tongue”), I can totally communicate in 2 more and have a sufficient grasp of at least 3 more to be able to get around. Mathew Settle is absolutely right, multilingual children usually start to speak later than monolingual children, but they in return they will grow up with the huge advantage of being able to communicate in more than 1 language. Though think playing french in italian to her won’t really matter, what matters are the languages she uses in her daily life, wether it’s English, Hebrew, sign language, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Esperanto or Klingon. The best ages to start learning new languages is way before the age of 12 (at which point the brains language synapses start to become less flexible), and the more languages you know well, the easier it will be to learn another. Go Mathew and Naama!

Anna on

It’s not easy to raise a child multi langual. The only way to really have the child be fluent in all is to have someone only speak that language to them. For example the mother only speaks English and the father always speaks Spanish. It’s hard to keep that up in a family all the time.

I still think it’s a good thing though.

amanda b on

I’m expecting my first baby this spring and will be raising my child billingually. However, I’m a native English speaker and my husband is German, so we will speaking to the baby in our respective languages. I don’t know how much sense it makes to speak to children in a handful of languages, I highly doubt Aven Angelica will retain much of the tidbits she learns in songs etc. Children have the amazing ability to learn languages quickly and without much effort, but only when they are really immersed in it.

JM on

i don’t know whether it’s ignorance or jealousy that makes people make rude comments when parents talk about their bilingual kids. i can only conclude that people like india and kay have no experience with multi-lingual kids.
i was raised bilingually and later in life learnt two more languages. i learnt my first two languages at exactly the same time and by 18 months was speaking just as well if not better than all the other kids my parents knew who were monolingual. to this day i am completely fluent in German and English (i consider them both my mother tongues), my Spanish is pretty good, certainly good enough to communicate with Spanish speakers and my French is passable.

learning several languages is always beneficial to children and i am now able to experience it as a parent. all five of my children are bilingual and were all speaking by the age of 1, obviously not perfectly, no 1 year old speak perfectly, but i don’t believe they would have spoken any better if they had learnt one language.

i say more power to matthew and i commend all you other parents out there who are trying to broaden your kids’ horizons.

Masha on

Raising up a bi/trilingual child is great if the parents or grandparents speak the language(s) or you are bringing up a child in another country but I don’t see the point in teaching (for example) an Italian American baby Japanese just for the sake of it. As other posters have mentioned, it is hard to keep up a language during childhood and adolescence if you are not around it or continually taught. Personally, I think the time spent would be better used teaching the child numeracy and literacy.

My parents speak about a dozen languages to high standard because they travelled a lot. However I’m quad lingual and only speak fluently the languages relevant to my family and where I live (which aren’t very well known languages). My parents could have taught me more but they focussed on universal skills like Maths. Result? I skipped two grades, went to Harvard. My point is don’t lose sight of the important things. Let’s teach our kids how to read and write well in English before weighing them down with Mandarin!

CelebBabyLover on

I agree with the people who have said that Aven probably won’t get confused trying to learn so many languages. Kids that age are like little sponges. πŸ™‚

J.J. on

I agree it’s great to learn new languages, but it does mean it’s necessary to put down those who know only one language..and no way means that a kid who can speak more than one language is superior. Just to point that out. My native language is English, but parents are from India. I can understand my parents’ language pretty well and can speak a little bit. I also learned Spanish in school..and am told that I am pretty good at speaking to non English speaking Hispanics though I forgot most of it, however I just can’t understand when someone speaks to me in Spanish! I also know a very few phrases and words, and can count from 1 to 5 and know 10 in Hindi since I watch miliions of Hindi films (Hindi is not my parents’ language..another Indian language), and I only know the numbers 1-11 in German. However I speak English nearly 100% of the time and just use the others only when really necessary. However, there are many I know who only speak one language, but that no way means that they should be put down because it seems like so many ppl are putting them down. Billingual kids are great to have and know that they can speak or just understand a language, but even if you have monolingual kids, they are just as great..so don’t judge πŸ™‚