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Adopting a bilingual child.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

So, while I am proud that her language is coming along well, I'm a little concerned about making sure her English is good enough.


We're currently speaking a bizarre melange of English and pigin (Neo-Melanesian).


Part of my concerns are that I want her to be bilingual. After all we live in the country of her birth and I want her to be able to communicate in her native tongue.


All our staff speak pigin, as do Husbang and I (albeit, not very well!)


We've only had her for two months, and already her English has improved out of sight! we watch Sesame Street and Play Skool every morning, and read books in English throughout the day.


However, we seem to have come to an halt with our English. It's like she's got enough to communicate with us now, and she doesn't need any more.


Anyone out there ever experienced the same?


Bueller?? Bueller??

post #2 of 13

How old is she?

post #3 of 13

I have zero personal experience with this, but thought I'd chime in with some things I've heard.


In my area of the US, we have a large Amish population. They speak high German at home. When kids go to school (Amish school at age 6), they begin to learn English. They speak English at school and when out with non-Amish people. At home they stick with the high German.


I grew up with several Mexican-American families. Friends were often the second or third generation in the US. They also spoke Spanish at home, but English everywhere else.


Just an idea!

post #4 of 13

Assuming that you are a native English speaker, I would really recommend that you speak English, and only English to her.  I have seen this approach work in my own family, and others. The "non-native tries to speak local language to kids" is, IMO, a terrible idea, both for parenting and for language skills.

post #5 of 13

We take the above approach with dd.  We speak English (our mother tongue) at home and she speaks French at school (started learning it when she first started school) and uses both French and English outside of the home (depending on who she's speaking with).



post #6 of 13
I'm raising my children bilingual ( German and English) and was told the key was consistency. Children seem to attribute languages to persons rather than to situations.

So I speak always German, DH always speaks English. DD(3) speaks both languages fluently and switches depending on with whom she speaks. DS (20 months) doesn't talk much yet. DD adresses strangers automatically in English, but when we went to Germany this summer she switched within a week to address strangers in German instead.

If you want your DD English to florish one of you parents should stick to speaking English with her always and at all times. You can address other people in pidgin in her presence and switch languages when you specifically address her. That is what I'm doing with my children. Also pretend not to understand or translate into English, when she addresses you in pidgin.
post #7 of 13
Originally Posted by Minalas View Post

her. That is what I'm doing with my children. Also pretend not to understand or translate into English, when she addresses you in pidgin.

WHAT?  Sometime s pretend to be able to speak it and then sometimes not?   Please explain.

post #8 of 13
I guess' pretend not to understand' was not the right choice of word. It's more like, you need to make clear to her, that you are to be addressed in English, because that is the 'mommy language'. So, if she addresses you in Pidgin and you are not sure, she knows the English words, translate for her and say: 'English we say:...'. But if you know, she knows the English version, insist that she use it with you. Say something like: 'How do you say that in English?', before you react to the content. The same way, you'd insist on your child using 'please' or 'thank you'.

Obviously, in an emergency or if the child is overtired, it makes no sense to insist on the use of the English language. But for regular use it is important to be consistant. I know quite a few people, whose children started out bilingual but lost the active use of the second language, because the parents allowed them just to speak the language the children were more comfortable in.

If you move to country where English is the common language, it's important that the Pidgin speaking parent holds up the Pidgin consistently so the child while not loose that language.
post #9 of 13
Excuse my spellos. I noticed there were quite a few of them in my last post.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

She's 4.


My husband's Pigin is awful (!), so he is the primary english speaker. Thanks for all the fedback, it's really helpful. Her English seems to have kicks started itself again in the last few days. Maybe she was just getting lazy., or had hit a wall. We're starting her in an english-only pre-school in a few weeks time, and she will continue to speak Pigin with our staff.


Thanks, guys!

post #11 of 13

The staff where?

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

we have house staff, and also the staff at my husband's work..

post #13 of 13

oh cool.

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