Another bilingual child issue. . . - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-15-2006, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know someone posted about delayed speech with a bilingual child. I have a different problem.

I am Serbian-American and my husband is American. We speak English to each other at home and live in Serbia.

My 3 yo dd goes to an English language day-care (mostly because of the quality of care, which is superior to the local day care).

Before she started day care she was speaking both languages equally, but since she started she speaks only English and gets angry if I speak to her in Serbian. She understands a lot but refuses to speak Serbian ever, even to people who clearly don't understand English. She replies to their Serbian questions in English.
What do you guys think? Should I just drop it? Should I still speak to her in Serbian, even if it makes her angry and uncooperative, or should I switch to English?
Any ideas?
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Old 06-15-2006, 02:57 PM
 
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I think you should continue to speak to her in Serbian, but maybe you can wait a bit until she's more comfortable with the transition to the new daycare. I think small kids go through phases of not speaking one language or another at different times. It's normal, don't worry.
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Old 06-15-2006, 03:10 PM
 
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My bi-lingual child (age 3.5) has also started speaking only english after being in preschool. We expected it, and while it is disappointing, we're not changing or reducing our efforts to speak two languages at home. I feel she will still get the benefits of a greater degree of fluency and understanding in the non-english language, even if she chooses not to use it due to the overwhelming prevalence of english speaking in her outside-the-home environment.
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Old 06-16-2006, 10:16 AM
 
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Do you have the opportunity to have some playdates with some Serbian speaking children the same age? If your dc sees and hears other children speaking Serbian and becomes friends with them, it might help her. If she only hears English at home and in her day care, then she might just need some regular contact with the Serbian language in the form of other children.

But in the long run, if you live in Serbia she will no doubt be in situations later on where she'll be required to speak it (ie going shopping or talking to people in public places). Children learn so much from their environment, it's amazing.

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Old 06-16-2006, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks you guys,
I think I will have to speak to her in English for a while because she just gets furious when I try to speak Serbian.
She does have some Serbian friends but is now refusing to speak to them in serbian too.
I guess it's probably a phase and I will back off so it doesn't become a big issue and then try again in a while.
Thanks for the advice!
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Old 06-16-2006, 11:49 AM
 
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Just a thought...I think you are doing the right thing continuing to speak in the language you are most comfortable in...I was wondering if there isn't an undercurrent of English being "better" and somehow she is picking up on it: ie, in most other countries (esp 2nd and 3rd world), like you say, an English speaking school is better quality and somehow there are very subconscious or even overt allusions to English being preferable.
Not that there is anything to be done about that, just something I thought of.
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Old 06-16-2006, 01:18 PM
 
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I agree with elsanne. Children really pick up on any comments or vibes.

Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo

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Old 06-17-2006, 10:42 PM
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I belong to a playgroup in Germany made up of English speaking moms that have kids in Germany speaking kindergardens. They get together once a month to make their children play games in english. They say they have to make rules that they can only speak english at home because now they are speaking German everywhere else they don't speak english. The kids are for the most part comfortably bi-lingual. There is one boy that just doesn't speak english. I was playing with him and thought I was just teasing when I told him I just didn't understand him because he wasn't speaking english. (I figured it was in context of the whole purpose of the group) I felt horrible because it was a real sore spot for him. His mom just took it in stride and said "we're working on it." Putting it in context I'm sure it's normal. If you keep speaking to him in Serbian he will know what you are saying and will eventually speak it because he will need to. Even if he goes to english speaking schools forever he will eventually have to speak it and will.
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Old 06-18-2006, 03:45 AM
 
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I read a study somewhere about English speaking families in Japan which basically came to the conclusion that the language of the child's world (ie: Japaneese) becomes dominate. The children see English as something just for their family, and their entire world / school / etc. is all Japaneese, so they lose the English. I live in Israel and have also noticed this. As soon as the children go off to gan at 3, they start to prefer Hebrew for the most part. Unless the parents push English in the home (ie: refuse to answer if asked in Hebrew, etc) the children who were English speakers first wind up speaking like Hebrew speakers learning English (even though they understand everything, when they speak it is clear they are translating Hebrew --> English). If Serbian is something only you use, you ds will pick up that English is the prefered language unless you make an effort to keep up his Serbian (trust me the English of some of these children with American parents is TERRIBLE). If he will start attending Serbian schools at some point, that will probably become his dominate language eventually.

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