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Minority Language and Science/Math

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hi!

We do OPOL at home, and DD is fluent in both. She also loves it when I explain things to her, such as the seasons, animals, plants, human body, etc. Before bed, sometimes she would prefer to do (simple) math with me instead of reading .

I did them all in my language, of course. But as I start explaining specific terms, I wonder how her acquired knowledge is transferable to the community language. I don't know if it will be confusing or helpful at school. Once she tried to explain the difference between animals and plants to DH, but couldn't, probably because she learned it in my language.

Any insights? TIA!
post #2 of 7
I don't have any concrete advice, but knowing the different terminology for various subjects in your mother tongue can only be an asset. Different cultures probably provide a different perspective on a subject, based on the connotations given by the language.

For instance, Chinese language numbers are a 10-based system. Math is easy to follow when our number system has a logical progression.

Compare this to English, where after nine, ten, you get ELEVEN, TWELVE, then something that kinda makes sense (THIRTEEN, FOURTEEN etc)

Even worse, French: onze, douze, treize, quatorze, quinze, seize, DIX-SEPT (ten seven) DIX-HUIT (ten eight) DIX-NEUF (ten nine)... and don't get me started about 80 and 90...

Another example: Chinese terms for certain medical conditions: diabetes = sugar in the urine. The etymology reveals that ancient chinese medical practitioners didn't mind sampling urine to see what was going on.

FWIW, DS1 goes to a bilingual French/English school, and will cover ALL subjects in both languages over the course of his primary school years. I think this is great!
post #3 of 7
I have a few North African friends, who spoke Arabic at home and French at school, and now they speak English, too... and I've noticed that any time they do any sort of calculating or even counting, they revent to French. That's the language they learned mathematics in, so that's the one they all seem to use, even though they also know all of the words in English and Arabic.

That said, even if she initially struggles to explain concepts she learned in one language in her second language, I think it eventually will work out, and it won't be a big deal... really, it's part and parcel of the bilingual experience, however you go about it.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks, FelixMom. What you said makes sense. The languages you mentioned are mine too. (Remember me? ) DD can count 40+?? in my language but can't go beyond 14 in Dh's language I love explaining things to her as much as she likes hearing them, but DH isn't as patient.

Dar, even today after doing most of my education here, I still count money in my mother tongue. I don't know... this is the only way I "feel" the real value of money, YKWIM? In other languages it feels like.... meaningless math
post #5 of 7
Speaking as a teacher who works with many bilingual students, I think what you're doing is wonderful.

If I have a student who comes to school knowing what an island is, and that the fact that it's surrounded by water is considered significant enough to warrant it's own name, and that it's different from a peninsula, but they don't know the word for island -- that's easy, I can teach them that in a few moments.

Or if I have a child who knows that a shape with 4 sides all the same length,, and 4 right angles has a special name, and that it can also be classified with shapes with 2 pairs of sides of different lengths -- again it's super easy to teach them the words square and rectangle.

Finally, if I have a child who has seen and handled or read about and watched videos about frogs and knows that htey start as eggs and then tadpoles, but they don't know the words, at least they know the questions to ask.

On the other hand, I often see parents who decide to speak "English only" with their kids because they think it will help them at school. Only the parents dont speak enough English to use words like island and peninsula, square and rectangle, egg and tadpole and frog.

Those kids area at a huge advantage. Helping them attach English labels to thngs for which they have no concept can be a big challenge.

Keep up the good work!
post #6 of 7
I totally agree with the above poster. Having all those concepts in mind and a word for them (in any language) is the most important -- new labels in other languages can come later, and usually they come easily.

My dds attend a local school in Slovenia so when they come home and talk about things they've learned I just supply the English terminology. My older dd is very quickly becoming just as competent talking about science and social studies in English as she is in Slovene.

BTW, reading skills are just as transferrable. I had an expat friend who was freaking out about teaching her children to read English (when they were only 5 or 6). She wanted me to give them lessons. My own kids have learned to read Slovene first, and after a year or two their English reading skills have caught right up. My older dd is a bookworm and devours books in both languages. I haven't really taught her anything, just provided lots of books and read to her every night until she didn't want me to any more.
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZoraP View Post
BTW, reading skills are just as transferrable. I had an expat friend who was freaking out about teaching her children to read English (when they were only 5 or 6). She wanted me to give them lessons. My own kids have learned to read Slovene first, and after a year or two their English reading skills have caught right up. My older dd is a bookworm and devours books in both languages. I haven't really taught her anything, just provided lots of books and read to her every night until she didn't want me to any more.
This is so true. The local foreign language immersion schools don't start any English literacy until 3rd grade, on the end of the year standardized testing they're ahead of the curve. An exception is made for kids being immersed in languages that don't have an "alphabetic principal" like Chinese, but otherwise they transfer the skill easily.
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