What parent can honestly say that their 3-year-old speaks four languages? Rhonda Ross can. The daughter of Diana Ross recently told the press that her son, Raif, not only knows English but can also speak a bit of French, Mandarin, and Spanish.

“It started very innocently,” said the proud mother. “At six months is when we started introducing the French, and at a year is when I started exclusively speaking to him in French. My husband speaks to him in English. He has a babysitter that comes three afternoons a week that speaks to him only in Spanish. He also has a Chinese babysitter that comes a couple of times a week that speaks to him only in Mandarin. In addition to that, he does a preschool program five mornings a week that is Immersion Mandarin. He doesn’t confuse the languages. He doesn’t mix the languages. It’s working very very well for us.”

Although Rhonda knew that she wanted her son to be well-versed, she didn’t think it was necessary for her to learn another language until a friend convinced her that one-on-one learning between her and Raif was the best way for him to thrive. “I wanted to give my son the gift of French, but I’m not fluent. I started with a French babysitter, but a friend convinced me I would have to speak French to my son myself if I really wanted him to be fluent. I took classes and constantly worked on my language skills,” explained the mom.

Rhonda gave birth to Raif in 2009. He was Diana Ross’ first grandchild at the time.

Photos: DNAinfo.com

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  3. Raif is a beautiful boy & wow! Rhonda is beautiful & she is smart to do that for her son. Those are the same 4 languages I know; English, French & Spanish & I am learning Mandarin. very cool!

  4. Good for her! I’m doing my chair happy dance seeing this. My mother’s first languages were French and Italian, My father’s were German and Sicilian dialect. We learned all four plus Spanish before English. I do wish I wrote French better, I speak it fluently but when it comes to writing I get the tenses mixed up and use too many words when it could have been written simpler.

    Since I came along our family has gotten more diverse, my paternal uncle’s wife is from Ghana and she speaks to us solely in her dialect. My maternal uncle’s wife’s family is from Somalia but she is from the UK, she and her family speak only their dialect at home.

    At boarding school we were required to take Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. During the summer it’s almost 100% French. The volunteer physicians from Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Canada and North Africa speak mostly French but are for the most part Trilingual. Our help is also trilingual or higher.

    What Rhonda Ross is doing for her son is beautiful. When everyone thinks your family is a bit weird or strange, it’s nice to know that other families think the same and are doing the same for their kids. While I might write about my family in cyberspace, I have gotten used to the weird looks people give me, so I’m mum in the real world.

    My bébé brothers turned three in January; I know they speak and understand the first four plus two but Raif is ahead of them, they speak almost no English; I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Only time will tell.

  5. This is too beautiful. I plan the same for my kids one day (don’t have kids yet) and luckily for me, I live in a cosmopolitan city where I have friends from all over the world, so I can see this happening [As for me, I speak two languages fluently and understand another two quite well but I find it hard to speak them lol).

  6. Its awesome to see a wealthy black celeb who doesnt immerse her kid in materialism and mediaworing but broadens his horizons by introducing him to things that will expand his mind and growth as a human being. I am not surprised as Diana made certain that her kids were well educated in the best private schools and colleges and they represent her extremely well. Its really nice to see it passing on to another generation. Considering that Will Smith had a perfect or near perfect SAT score, this is what I expected of his kids but oh well.

    • I think the word “mediaworing” is funny although if spellcheck could talk it would say…well you know what it would say. But I have to admit, its very descriptive of these people’s behavior.

  7. Thanx BCK. I just asked the other day for more photo’s and info of Ms. Ross’ family, and you’ve come thru.

  8. That’s wonderful!

    I am nowhere close to being fluent in French, I took it in school up until Grade 9.

    I took my daughter to a “Fun With French” class every Sunday morning from September to April. My son will start in September once he’s 3.

  9. Some people are blessed with natural abilities in languages. My daughter is 9 and has been in French school since she was 4. She speaks French fluently, but definitely prefers English. Gripes all the time about having to do homework in French. I wish that she had this kid’s attitude.

  10. Neat. Gotta love funny faces. My son was speaking 3 by the time he was 5 but he did confuse & mix the languages. Had to get him speech therapy. He’s good now, talking to me in Chinese. Uh huh, I’m too old.

    • Let me clarify, he speaks French, Spanish, Polish & knows sign language. He now learning Chinese & I’m too old to learn a new language.

      • Wow! That’s great!

        I’m making my children learn French ’cause Canada’s a bilingual country. They’ll benefit in knowing French when applying to jobs in the future.

        Now after reading this post it may be good for them to know another language, just for fun, we’ll see. :)

        • Thanks Evelina. My cousin lives in Canada & they too speak French & English. It’s a definite plus to be bilingual. My step father was Haitian, so he taught us French & Creole, but he only taught my son French. I studied Spanish in school & taught my son. I always wanted to learn sign language so I dragged my son to classes with me. He hated it but when he saw how he was able to communicate with the deaf & non verbal children in his school, he liked it. I learned Polish from one a good friend since elementary school & her son would speak to my son in it. In my home, we have days where we only speak a certain language. Sometimes I’ll say something in Spanish & my son would answer in Polish. We use it to mess with people when we are at get togethers. I have no idea where he’s getting Chinese from though.

          • I like it! You and your son are very rich in language, well done!

            I have a variety of friends (Spanish, Filipino, Dutch and Serbian) that are first generation Canadian and their parents never taught them their “mother tongue” or they don’t speak it well enough to communicate outside of their families, so I am not so lucky with my friend’s languages, BOOO! lol

        • You have some choices. German, its in the middle, but it is the language of money.

          Mandarin Chinese, the Chinese already own a large portion of America plus its the number one spoken dialect in the world (along with its sub-dialects).

          Spanish is number two but it seems to be number one in Houston, want the best bargains or discounts in Houston? Look “other” but speak to the salespeople correctly in Spanish. They are so sweet, they bend over backwards for you.

          Arabic, its number four but in terms of personal wealth, the UAE is one of the wealthiest areas in the world, plus they employ thousands of expatriate Americans and Canadians at above average salaries. Even American companies like the Cleveland Clinic recruit Western Physicians (and other medical personnel) to work over there. If you speak/read Arabic, top of the line for you. Plus the hospitals over there pay your airfare. A one way ticket from Houston to Dubai is $18,000.00 American dollars on Emirates Air (I used Emirates as an example because they have a direct flight from IAH to DXB, its 15 hours).

          What I found odd was French, German is listed as higher than French but all through the Caribbean, South America, North/West Africa and Europe I was able to converse with more people in French than German plus most of the voulanteer physicians I encounter during the summer speak French more than any other language.

      • JMO but unless you are dead you can never be too old to learn something new. Better late than never?

        I’ve heard President Obama say on more than one occasion that two of his biggest regrets is not learning another language and not being able to play a musical instrument. Everytime he said that I would think “But you aren’t dead”. T

  11. Children learn quickly. They are constantly making connections in their little brains as they grow. He’s adorable :)

  12. What she is doing is actually not that rare in other countries (especially in Africa where I grew up). Children can learn many languages when exposed at a very young age. I spoke 5 languages (and now 7) at her son’s age because I grew up amongst many different cultures. I definitely recommend it. Studies show that it’s not how early a child talks, but how many languages they understand which will increase their IQ. However, this is hard to do if you’re not surrounded by a diverse crowd and most parents don’t have a variety of nannies to expose their children to new languages. (I grew up in a very poor but diverse community) My advise is to have your kids read/watch anything in a different language. Even if they don’t fully grasp the languages, it goes a long way in expanding their understanding of their own language.

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