I'm completely loving this thread. My husband speaks Italian, I speak French but one of our children is adopted and Latina. Thrilled to have all the suggestions here because her preschool once/week Spanish class is clearly not cutting it. I can't keep the subtle differences in the Roman-based languages straight. Hoping my kids will.
When a child's MINORITY language is weak - Page 2
one think i've had to accept on this subject ... is that not all of my kids will have the same ability in their minority language
.... my eldest is brilliant, quasi bilingual although she mainly learned when she turned 6 and was then immersed in the second culture (DH and I are biligual but had not had the good sense-ability to teach the kids before that time ...). She's been a book-worm so that helped immensely (as well as an EXCELLENT second grade teacher, with whom we're still in contact, and who motivated all her class to read and read ...)
my second child dropped his mother tongue after one year in the second culture & said it was too hard to do both languages at the same time, he's since dropped the second language and switched back to his mother tongue being schooled his first culture, with tutoring by me in the second language in view of a language exam when he was 11 but he didn't make it in the coveted (by me, not by him) bilingual class in middle school ... he's not that interested in fact, too much work ?
have no idea how i'll tackle it with my 3rd child ... she gets exposure & i do/can speak either language ... but for the moment she's clearly monolingual since her knowledge in her minority language is still minimal ...
That was confusing. How does a child "drop" their "mother tongue"? You would have to explain the situation.
I don't give my kids the option to choose the language they use with me. When the oldest was a toddler, he tried to speak to me in French. I would be disinterested, "mis"understand, ask him why he was using "Papa's language" with me or even ignore him. Must admit, I really didn't do the last one a lot, only if I were walking by or in another room... So the message got through. English is what he had to use with me to get anything he wanted. The other two never tried. They just did as their older brother was doing...
So "dropping" a language is not really an option. We're too habit-set using English to switch at this point. Sometimes they wish they didn't have the third language at school but I tell them, you'd have to leave your school and say goodbye to your friends! That stops that conversation. I also tell them, sure, schooling in two languages is tougher but our goal is that you're all competent in a language that's important to your heritage and region. It's normal to get sick of it and want to leave sometimes. Everyone wants to do everything the easy way but sometimes, it's worth sticking it out.
Really, it's not that much different than anything else in parenting. One of my dh's cousins just lets her son run around in the car without any restraint at all. He's three and "doesn't like" the car seat. I hate to force children but there are instances where it's necessary but better to just be consistent. Even if the child resists, it doesn't last long since they're used to the status quo.
yes, "droped it"
we moved to the USA when he just turned 4
for work, so i felt a bit bad imposing such a change on our kids
(as in "let' leave all our friends behind and go to someplace where we don't know anyone and you don't even speak the language" ....)
DS had a speech delay in french to start with so we would have done speech therapy if we had stayed put in France
we had to wait for him to learn english (a good 7 months) before we could consider tackling his pronunciation difficulties ....
we knew he was understanding english long before he accepted to speak in english
DH and I being both bi-lingual - and usually speaking each other's language, sort of irrespective of which country we live in ....
... we didn't impose any "home language"
by then DS was clearly letting me know that speaking in both languages was too hard and he just stopped using french at all
after 3 years, we returned to France, & he couldn't speak a single word of french ... for months
he litterally had to re-learn french as if "from scratch"
he even had speach therapy since he could no longer pronounce "r"the french way ....
after about a year and a half, he "dropped" english ... and now is a reluctant speaker of english
(he now speaks english with a french accent, after sounding like a little american boy for 3 years, whereas he's not, he's half french, half british ....)
i must add that i really really resented it when my MIL lectured me way back in 1995 ... since her son wanted to learn french, then i HAD to stop speaking in english with him, (as she dictated - had apparently decided for me ...)
i really really hated that someone should try deciding for me which language i would be allowed to speak in which circumstances ... so .. how can i do that to my son now ??
what's not helpful for me right now in our situation is that i'm "pushing" DH'smother tongue, not mine ...
i suppose i would have been much more combative if we had stayed in the US & i certainly would have liked DS to regain some of his/my mother tongue (french) at some point in his childhood .... he's now in grade 6 ... and is finally doing fine accademically ... but it hasn't been plain sailing over the last 4 years ...
so, ... he won't be as briliantly bilingual as DD1 (who writes in our local expat newsletter) ... i have to accept his accent (french when he speaks english) now ... all the prep i did for the exam last spring ... gave him back the basics of the language
=> he can speak some, he certainly doesn't read enough (in either language, + too many spelling mistakes in his mother tongue for my liking ...)
but hopefully, the day he's motivated to speak the language he can ...... ?
we sometimes have a playdate with english speaking Canadian kids, that's when i hear my son speak english,
=>although it only happened AFTER we were offered a late place end of September in the international section, after someone dropped out .... which DS then refused and when he realised that i wasn't going to force him to accept the place ...
+ DD1 has a school friend whose little brother is the same age as DS, sat for the same exam and purposefully flunked it .... (apparently for not being with boys he was with the previous year & didn't like, ....except that strategy didn't work, he's now in the half class that is with half of the international section ....
=> have been seriously wondering, is it more difficult for boys ? .... there was a french family back in the US ... the one boy had a harder time with the language than all his sisters ....)
DS seems happy now, since he's been accepted in a section where they also do Circus training a couple hours a week .... he much prefers that ... and has blossomed since September .... from shy to accepting to perfrom in front of an audience ....
so, when shall i resume my at home tutoring in english (i've got LOADS of supplies ....) with DS ???
That's confusing. I find it hard to believe that a child with a native speaking parent, and early exposure, could find it difficult. What an awful struggle he's been through!
No, not all children will be as "bilingual" to the same degree. I have one dd who speaks all three without an accent. People are divided about the other two in English. My theory is that they don't have "accents" but they make non-native errors in it, like putting the color first. I notice they lose it or it lessens while in the U.S.
They are all equally matched and we have not moved. All speaking English to me and doing bilingual French-German at school. Yet, I have three different levels of proficiency. Luckily, the levels are only different by increments, not huge differences. The children not even aware, although the oldest knows that the middle one has no accent in German. "She can really speak it like a German person..." Yes, how nice for her, and we move on...
My son passed the int'l section English exam but we decided to keep him in bilingual German. It was funny in that he "forgot" (or they forgot to ask him) that his mother was American. They kept asking him "You have never lived in an English speaking country??" A friend who works there later overheard colleagues talking about "this kid who never lived anywhere but France" who spoke English without an accent. "I know that child" she kidded them "Did you ask if either parent was a native speaker??"
Is it possible that they didn't believe that a child could be so bilingual with just one parent speaking the minority language??
But he definitely finds the German harder than the two girls do. He has a French accent in German, although he's fluent, it's still there. He was also late talking (2 1/2). Maybe it's a "boy" thing but I'm not sure if research would back that up.
We didn't "impose" any home language. My dh can't speak English so by default, it's French. So the only English they get is from me. I also didn't react, or responded slowly in French. That quickly made sure that they stuck to English! So it was bilingual or bust! Easier with no guilt trip about international moves happening...
Also, I hear you on the French MIL. Mine would say about my late-speaking son "You're confusing him with the English". Okay, nothing new but this woman herself grew up speaking Alsatian and French!! So I was able to have the best come-back that few DIL's could use "Oh yeah? Did it confuse YOU?? How did YOU keep Alsatian and French straight??" She replies "Alsatian is just a dialect". Just because a language is considered a "dialect" doesn't mean that being bilingual works any differently. English is a Germanic language. So is Alsatian!
That finally shut her up. Pant! pant!
So if I'm hearing it from a bilingually raised MIL, I'm not surprised about what your French MIL said lol!
... sorry to not make it more clear in my previous post, the my MIL is British (+ had hardly met any foreigner before meeting up with me apparently, am clearly not the "right" choice for her eldest son basically ...) - am the one who is french ...
yes, a lot of people who do not live the situation "from the inside" have loads of misconceptions about languages ... (even before DD1 was born, we were accused of wrong-doing since surely our child would learn "bad french" and "bad english".....)
though i must say you MIL's comment is indeed extremely surprising coming from someone who grew up with two languages !!!!!
yet, someone from the local expat community mentionned that 30 years ago, when she had children here, her pediatrician strongly advised against raising them bilingual-english, so as not to risk some sort of brain damage .....
surprising about the teachers doing the interviews for the international section ....how could they be so un-aware ? or maybe it's a rather new section ? i should think that over here, it might be a rather "old" one .... 20 to 25 years old ... i should think that 80% of the kids are from mixed mariages therefore living here with limited exposure to english .... although some have arrived in the area only a few years ago .... in the past there were probably more kids from expatriates who didn't stay too many years in the area ...
So your British MIL wanted you to speak French with her son so that he could learn it? Yes, that would be awkward but at least her heart was in the right place. It was probably her way of being supportive.
If you're surprised about my MIL, here's another one. My mom in California works for a Mexican-born doctor. This doctor tells me that I should wait until my children are 2 to start speaking to them in English. Luckily, I'm very fond of this man and can joke with him. "Shall I start it at the same time as potty training??" I joked with him, before assuring him that my son was not suffering any mental handicaps in French, due to my using English with him...
Bad advice from the bilingually-raised! I think it's because they don't remember. All they know is their situation. They didn't ponder it much.
There is a girl in my son's school, same age. I'm friends with the mom because she came up to me and complimented on my using English with my kids so consistently. She then went on to explain that a psychologist in her dh's family had told her NOT to use Arabic with her dd because it would "confuse" her. This is a child born in 1999 so this idea is still out there! I was especially surprised in this case specifically because the mom is from Morocco, where everyone is multilingual. It's natural for them so logically, wouldn't she have brushed this bad idea off more easily?
A beautiful girl, half Moroccan, half Alsatian who only speaks French. Sad huh?
I think the testers just forgot to ask my son. Perhaps they didn't think that a child with an English speaking parent would be in the German-French bilingual program? Once, my son mentioned that he spoke English in his own school and the teacher didn't believe him. I mean, aren't all the English speakers supposed to be over in the International Sections? Maybe in a local school but certainly not bilingual! (Yes, we're the only family I know of...)
must be that ... "surely" he cannot ALSO speak German ????
... not surprising about the Maroccan mom, my BIL is from Marocco, they live in the outskirts of Strasbourg .... and my sister's 3 kids .... speak very little arabic ... in spite of going to language classes at the Mosq for years ... & now my niece has married someone who speaks a dialect of Marocco, not even "regular" arabic ...
yes, i try to remember "probably her way of being supportive" .... and to give the benefit of the doubt , usually .... although it's been much harder these last couple of years ....