/ Modified jan 24, 2014 4:28 p.m.

One, Dos, Drei: Tucson Girl Growing Up Trilingual

Thanks to parents who come from Germany, Mexico and school where 7-year-old learns English.



Many people are aware of the benefits of speaking a second language, but imagine taking it a step further and juggling three languages while growing up.

That's what's happening in the midtown Tucson household of Peter Ecke and Lydia Noriega.

Peter was born in Germany, Lydia is from Mexico and their seven-year-old daughter Victoria is from the United States.

Victoria communicates in German with her father, Spanish with her mother, and studies English at the International School of Tucson, where her day is divided between English and German.

Victoria's parents say it may sound confusing and difficult, but they are happy to be doing this now at a time in her life when it is easier to pick up different languages.

Peter works at the University of Arizona's Department of German Studies and Lydia teaches Spanish at St. Gregory College Preparatory School.

Experts who work in this field say more studies should be conducted about trilingualism, since it is often treated as an extension of bilingualism.

In one study in Europe in 2000, researcher Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert found that some very young children tend to favor the mother's language, move to the father's language later, but eventually prefer the local or dominant language.

In southern Arizona, the International School of Tucson has nearly 150 students and its principal says all of them are expected to be bilingual and biliterate if they stay at that school.

However, a smaller group is learning three or even four languages between their lives at home and school.

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