When a child's MINORITY language is weak - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 29 Old 02-20-2012, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I saw the other thread about a poster whose child is currently immersed in the minority language at home and she's worried that the child might have difficulties picking up the majority language.

 

I have the opposite problem. DH and I speak a lot of Spanish in the home, and DH speaks to DD almost exclusively in Spanish, but while her English is really exploding right now, she seems to be dropping Spanish words that she previously used in favor of their English counterparts. And while she is starting to form mini-sentences in English, she Spanish is still just one word here or there, and infrequent at that.

 

I have thought of switching to speak mostly Spanish with her, because she still spends more time with me (or with DH and I TOGETHER, but very little time just one-on-one with DH) and so she gets more English for that reason. But it's hard because it's not my native language, and frankly my OWN Spanish is slipping a bit these days. So maybe introducing more Spanish in our daily lives would help me, too. But when I ran this past DH he pointed out that he is really still learning English (he's been in the US for almost 3 years), and moving towards an all-Spanish household would hinder him. *SIGH*

 

I do have to admit that DD watches a lot of TV (Nick Jr) and it's all in English. We typically have the TV running in the background 5-6 hours a day, either on Nick Jr or on a MusicTV channel--Jazz or Blues or Classical. I don't really feel bad about the TV that she watches/hears, because there are no commercials on Nick Jr, and the shows that she watches are good ones (we watch them together.) Also I still read to her almost daily, so TV is not replacing that interaction. She is still VERY active and I have actually noticed that she is picking up language/counting/ABCs from seeing/hearing it so repetitively on TV.

 

So I have been thinking about looking for some good, educational pre-schooler DVDs in Spanish to see if that helps. Also there is a possibility of us enrolling her in a bilingual pre-school and elementary school, but it's kind of far from where we live right now, and we don't have a car. But we might be getting a car around the time she is ready for pre-school, so that might not be an issue.

 

Any suggestions for increasing her Spanish input that I haven't thought of? Anyone else have a similar experience and figure out a way to get your child talking more in the minority language? I see her language skills really blossoming right now, she really is like a sponge, and I feel like we are missing a crucial window for her Spanish development.

 

Thanks for reading.


Married 12/08 to Chilean DH and mama to DD 2/2/10. We're a bilingual home and we familybed1.gif and toddler.gif

 

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#2 of 29 Old 02-20-2012, 04:33 PM
 
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My situation was/is similar. I speak the minority language (LV) and DH the majority language (EN), but he was a SAHD and I worked when the kids were younger, so they heard EN more. We live in the US, so EN spoken mostly in our environment. We are active in the LV community, but that isn't the majority influence.

 

If your Spanish is not native and you don't feel comfortable speaking it to DD, that's OK - don't. This is called OPOL (one parent, one language). If Spanish is your family language when you are all together, that's great. I really think the keys are as much Spanish exposure as you can get for DD and for your DH to always speak Spanish to your DD, even when your DD responds in English. With my kids, I still do this, and they are 8 and 12 - yes, it makes for some funny dual-language conversations. It helps that you understand Spanish; my DH also understands LV, so he doesn't mind me speaking it to the kids when he is around. I bet making at least some of your TV/radio/book time Spanish would give her a boost, especially if she finds something she really likes.

 

As for exposure, we don't get to visit LV often (expensive!!), so we do LV cultural school on Saturdays, attend community events, speak LV with my other family members, etc. Honestly, I am lax about reading books and we don't get much TV in the language. We do listen to some LV music. We used to do a playgroup, too, before they started school. I would say the result of a lot of effort and time (including my time volunteering in the community), and sometimes frustration and tears, is that both of my DDs understand the language and speak it pretty well, although not always grammatically correctly (but then again, who does). So, I consider my goal mostly achieved and am carrying on with maintaining it as best I can!

 

By the way, when both DDs started school, we put them in a two-way Spanish immersion program (meaning 1/2 the class is English dominant, 1/2 are Spanish dominant), so they actually get a lot of Spanish at school and now speak that pretty well, too. The human brain's capability for absorbing languages is amazing. I highly recommend this type of program - we love it.

 

Good luck with everything!


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#3 of 29 Old 02-20-2012, 06:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your response, it was helpful. We ordered some Spanish dvds online and are definitely looking into the dual immersion preschool and elementary schools near us. I think that will probably be the best and most influential thing we can do to ensure she acquires Spanish as well as English. Thanks for sharing your story!

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#4 of 29 Old 02-21-2012, 09:49 AM
 
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Is there no Spanish-language playgroup near you?  It seems like it should be reasonably easy to find a Spanish-speaking community in LA, no?  I'm in northern CA but eg there are at least two Spanish-language playgroups that meet at our local parks.   

 

And yeah, esp if she is watching TV anyway I would definitely try to make it in Spanish as much as possible.  DD1 is learning tons of DH's language from TV.


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#5 of 29 Old 02-21-2012, 08:56 PM
 
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Hi, in our case I speak the minority language (spanish) to my daughter and my husband speaks to her only in English.  We also use the OPOL method at home.  I work full time and my daughter who's now 4 1/2 speaks fluently in both languages.  We're doing the same with our 9 month old son.  My husband and I had a conversation about the importance of teaching the kids spanish as a way to communicate with my family.  I'm very grateful that he has been completely supportive of this endeavor.  Here's what has helped:

 

- We listen to children's music mainly in Spanish ( Jose Luis Orozco has available CD's on amazon) radiombligo.org (free children's radio station)

-  Access children's websites such as Pipo (I believe there is a small fee for its use)

- We read children's books in spanish

- We watch movies in Spanish

- Spanish playgroups

- Visit family in South America.  Most recently my daughter attended 2 weeks of preschool with her cousin in Ecuador.

- Watch cartoons in Spanish (PBS has a channel called V-me, also discovery kids in spanish and some of the spanish channels like Univision have cartoons in spanish on saturdays.

- Spanish story time at the library

- Skype with the family in Ecuador

- Leapster games in spanish (dora, diego, disney princesses, toy story)

- This summer we'll be going back to Ecuador for more spanish immersion.

- I never, ever speak to her in English even if it is in front of my husband's family/friends/public places, etc....I do offer a translation if needed...

 

I try to keep it interesting and on some occasions she will use an english word if she does not know the meaning in Spanish.  I correct her and we move on. When she first started pre-school she attempted to speak to me in Eglish and I pretended to not understand, so she only speaks Spanish to me. I'm constantly seeking out opportunities for her to get involved with the language.  I mus admit it is a lot of work, but consistency is the key.  Hope it helps and good luck.

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#6 of 29 Old 02-22-2012, 06:19 AM
 
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Jose Luis Orozco is great! My girls heard a lot of his music at school, and he even played there once. We love those songs.

 

gabsev, slightly off topic, but can you recommend specific Spanish-language shows that are good for kids? Mine are a bit older &we think it would be good to increase their Spanish exposure, but neither DH nor I speak Spanish, so it's hard for us to judge.


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#7 of 29 Old 02-22-2012, 08:08 PM
 
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Ragana, do you have cable at home? We use direct TV and we pay $ 7.99 xtra per month to have access to "the Americas' package" which entails 30+ channels from central & south america, 1 of those channels "discovery kids" has daily spanish cartoons available from 0700 until about 6pm west coast time, all of the shows are very appropriate, non-violent and educational.  Some of the shows may be geared towards the preschooler kids, but there are certainly shows that are appropriate for 8-12 year olds. There is also another channel called V-me which is the spanish version of PBS they have daily cartoons from 0600 until about 10 am or so, their shows are also very educational (Sesame street, lazytown, angelina ballerina, etc  I think these shows are geared more towards the younger kids. As much as possible I try to get childrens' movies that have the spanish audio option.  I also use youtube to watch short episodes about 10 minutes each of "charlie y lola en español" (my fave and certainly appropiate for the older kiddos), caillou.  Hope this helps.

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#8 of 29 Old 02-25-2012, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all of the suggestions! I immediately went on amazon and ordered a few Spanish language DVDs. And then I searched online and found the VMe channel in our area and set up some series recordings of cartoons in Spanish (probably could have saved my money at Amazon, but oh well.) Also I've been looking for a bilingual playgroup in my area through meetup.com, but I'm very surprised to say that I haven't had any success. There were two groups that seemed perfect, but one is no longer accepting new members (and it looks like it's just no longer active) and the other is across LA, and I don't have a car. :(  But I plan to keep searching.

 

Thanks so much for the great suggestions!


Married 12/08 to Chilean DH and mama to DD 2/2/10. We're a bilingual home and we familybed1.gif and toddler.gif

 

Expecting #2 in late June!

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#9 of 29 Old 02-26-2012, 03:27 PM
 
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Forgot to add another great resource http://spanglishbaby.com look under forums "US West Coast" for playgroups in the LA area

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#10 of 29 Old 02-27-2012, 11:36 AM
 
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I'll be looking for ideas in this thread!

 

We speak a lot of Spanglish here.  My DD is 4 years old.  My DH is a native Spanish speaker but is fluent in English as well.  I am a native English speaker, I am of Mexican and Irish heritage but was raised by my Irish mother.  I learned Spanish through music (mostly the grammar) and vocabulary from school.  I took 4 years of Spanish in high school, my junior year being Honors and my senior year being AP.  I am now fluent in Spanish.  

 

In our house, like I said, we speak a lot of Spanglish.  My MIL speaks English to the kids, my FIL mostly Spanish to them but a lot of Spanglish as well, and my DD's uncle almost all Spanish to them (though he is fluent in English).  They have picked up a lot and understand it very well.  My DD1 knows Spanish words and is constantly asking how to say things in Spanish.  She listens to a lot of Spanish music (Shakira, Mana, Juanes) and dances along and is picking up lyrics.  My 2yo understands it well and repeats it, but is a late talker so we'll see.

 

I definitely want to give them the gift of knowing two languages.. our family speaks both, but there are a few Spanish-only family members that they have communication issues with.  Funny though.. because my DD1 is teaching my husband's grandma English!

 

They don't watch TV, I might add, but I can see where that would be helpful.  As a kid I would watch the Novelas and the horoscopes and (much to my mother's dismay) the trashy talk shows..  I picked up a lot!


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#11 of 29 Old 02-27-2012, 11:38 AM
 
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As for Spanish kids songs- check out Nelson Gill.  You can download his mp3s for free online.  He is Chicago based but when I was in preschool (1993-1994!) he performed for us a few times.  I had his tapes as a kid and lovedddd his music.  He has Spanish and English versions of most of his songs.  They are very Caribbean influenced. 

 

http://nelsongill.com/home.html

 

and the music downloads...

http://nelsongill.com/home.html


rainbow1284.gif Mama to DD1 (6) DD2 (4) and DD3 (1)
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#12 of 29 Old 04-19-2012, 07:06 PM
 
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I love these resourses - radiombligo is great!
 

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#13 of 29 Old 04-20-2012, 04:30 AM
 
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Kitteh, don't sweat it if one language is stronger than the other. Very few people are truly, equally, balanced bilingual anyway. It's neither necessary nor reasonable. 

 

The focus should be maintaining Spanish, not comparing it to the English. My kids are stronger in French and always have been. My dh can't speak English but my kids can pass entirely as Americans (although they "out" themselves on visits to the U.S. by fighting in French or they wont know some new trend whatever and the other American kid can't believe it...) 

 

Even though you're not fluent, you can still help reinforce the Spanish. Ask her what the months of the year are, the days of the week or just to count. Test her on objects. Make a game of it. Pull out picture books and have her name everything in Spanish. You probably have enough Spanish to know what things are. 

 

You dh needs to always use Spanish and only Spanish. It's actually easier in the long run (speaking from experience being the minority-language parent). Think of it this way; even in a monolingual home, the parents don't converse with each other the way they talk to their children (or shall we hope they don't?? love.gif) We're doing the same thing except we're switching languages entirely. One of the issues that us minority language speakers run into is that we don't know "baby talk" because we haven't been around small children in our own language and forgot stuff from when we were little. I just improvise and yes, it does look funny when they talk like adults ("You're irritating me!" "Stop provoking me!") American kids just don't say that but it doesn't mess up their language acquisition. This might be a block for your dh so discuss it. It helps to think of communication in this way. 

 

Also, someone mentioned ignoring your offspring when they use the "wrong" language. It works but it might be hard for you to do. The kinder, gentler version is to simply be more positive when the "right" language is used. When my son tried speaking to me in French, I was really disinterested. I did get him what he asked for but took my time. When he asked in English, he had my full attention and his requests were immediately answered.

 

Today they wont let me say anything to them in French. Sometimes I get stuck on certain vocabulary words, like sports equipment or school stuff that doesn't exist in America... Once my son was answering in English, the next two followed suit and never tried using French with me, even though that's what I speak to my dh. There is very little English where we live.  

 

Passive learning is fine for reinforcement but doesn't replace interaction in the language. We have an "original language" rule when it comes to videos. They have to watch it in the original language and it didn't take long before they watched it without prompting, in English. Now dubbed movies seem silly to them, with the mouths not matching and they get annoyed at the mistakes the translators make. 

 

Don't get lax with the Spanish thinking that it will be made up with schooling. I had it all planned out, just to have my son rejected from an English program (not based on testing but diplomats, even those who didn't speak English, were priority over my son). That caught me for a loop! We ended up just putting all three in German and now they're trilingual. I've actually had people not believe that they speak English, never having lived in an English speaking country nor being schooled in it and with a father who doesn't speak it. We don't have nearly the Spanish support that you enjoy in So. Cal. 

 

Keep up the good work! 

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#14 of 29 Old 05-19-2012, 10:45 AM
 
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I find myself in the exact same situation.

 

But I would like to add that having stronger english abilities is natural. I live in a community with a strong immigrant population that does NOT speak english, and guess what? Their kids aren't that great at spanish either, despite the fact that their parents only spoke spanish to them their whole lives! They watch cartoons and go to school and play with other kids that speak english and gradually forget how to speak spanish, they just understand it somewhat. When I took spanish class in school, the children of spanish speaking immigrants were the ones with the WORST grades out of the whole class! No joke.

 

So I would say don't worry so much about it. The second language is always going to be weaker, regardless of whether or not they hear any english growing up!

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#15 of 29 Old 05-21-2012, 01:48 PM
 
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This is a great thread. Really reassuring. My two are very dominant in English because we live in the UK, and my Chinese is very marginal. But DH persists with speaking only Mandarin with them and I am grateful for his persistence. They clearly understand him but only rarely use Mandarin themselves. 


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#16 of 29 Old 05-26-2012, 06:26 AM
 
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Their kids aren't that great at spanish either, despite the fact that their parents only spoke spanish to them their whole lives! They watch cartoons and go to school and play with other kids that speak english and gradually forget how to speak spanish, they just understand it somewhat. When I took spanish class in school, the children of spanish speaking immigrants were the ones with the WORST grades out of the whole class! No joke.

 

I hear you on this one but this is a slightly different situation. 

 

I'll explain. I'm from California and my mom and sister are fluent in Spanish. My sister lived in Spain, S. and Central America. My mom works for a Mexican-born doctor so they both are very into the local Hispanic scene. 

 

It's not just Spanish in the U.S. but there are other communities like this, where two languages are used interchangeably. The quality of both can suffer from code mixing and switching. I see it here in this part of France. There is a dialect here and people will just carry expressions over. As an example, my dh will say, if there's a draft, that it's "pulling" on him (ça tire for those of you who know French). That's a direct translation of an Alsatian expression (sorry, don't know Alsatian and doubt any of you would either!) It's not "real" French. They really mix the two up, to the point that I talk like that too and really confuse people when I leave this region in France ("Thought you had an English accent. So you're German?!?" ugh!) Their Alsatian (which is a German dialect) is also really mixed with French. My dh can speak or the other but watching him speak "pure" Alsatian, which he does have to sometimes, I can see it's an effort for him.

 

It's interesting because it's exactly the situation I observed back home in California. I've had the fortune of living in two places for a long time with two official languages. A coworker of my mom's had a Master's in Spanish from Mexico and she gave me a ton of examples (especially car stuff). She used "real" Spanish with her own dd and often had to correct little Spanglishisms the girl picked up.

 

Let me be clear, some people can switch but they're effectively trilingual, because their brain has made Spanglish a dialect, separate to both English and Spanish.

 

Those of you who live in some Middle Eastern countries can relate, where English and sometimes French too, is used at will. Keeping to "pure" Arabic can be tricky!

 

When the language is restricted in the family, you can have more control. Of course, the exposure can be limited but you can monitor the quality and quantity your child is getting. Those of us who are using a minority language with many variations (like Spanish, English, etc.) sometimes run into materials that are not exactly the form you use but you can explain them to your children and work with them to understand. Also, we (using the "we" for us parents using a minority language that is not in the community-in our case, English) don't have the luxury of using the other language interchangeably outside the house. Both a blessing and a curse! Our children aren't exposed to any "corrupted" or mixed version, albeit less of the minority language. When my children step out of the house, they have to use French, and only French. English would not really be understood. If they inserted an English word at will in a conversation with an outsider, it would sound a little strange. People in these mixed communities can basically pick out words like a buffet and get along just fine! 

 

Just as a little amusing story, a woman heard me speaking English on the tram. She then started to talk to my kids in French but slid into Alsatian. It was almost automatic with her. She didn't realize that these were Alsatian children who were in a German program at school and heard Alsatian at home with their dad. They couldn't really speak back but understood and answered in French. While she was being nice, I felt she was kind of testing us. 

 

This is a classic case of the grass being greener. Children who are more exposed to a minority language aren't necessarily learning the correct, or even useful version. 

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#17 of 29 Old 11-06-2012, 03:32 PM
 
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Wow, what a great thread! I feel as though you guys have covered so many of the suggestions I would have made already... I guess the only thing I'd add, if it's financially feasible for your family, is the option of hiring an international childcare provider (au pair). This is what we've done to raise our DDs bi-lingual since my DH and I both work outside of the home and needed full-time childcare support anyway. This frees us up A LOT in terms of our scheduling, and we don't have to worry so much about whether we speak to our DDs in English or German. We know they are getting plenty of exposure to both already (German from our au pair and English in school, with friends, etc.).

 

The agency we work with is amazing because they only recruit "professional" au pairs who are a little older and have a lot more experience and qualifications than the candidates we considered through other agencies. And it surprisingly ends up costing us LESS than we'd pay for a domestic nanny or daycare. Go figure. Anyway, I always suggest this to parents who want to raise their kids speaking two or more languages. It's a huuuuge help.

 

Of course, after-school groups, DVDs, and all the other suggestions in this thread also make a huge difference! It just depends on your family's needs and budget. :)

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#18 of 29 Old 11-13-2012, 05:04 PM
 
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Even if you don't find a formal advertised playgroup, you can get one together yourself with another family or two. It's much easier for the parent who speaks the minority language to do this, since then the minority language can be the language of the playgroup (this is what we do with a small group of bilingual families, and the kids aren't even the same ages - it doesn't matter because what's important is for them to see people, including children, interacting in the minority language). There must be so many people in more or less your situation in LA, and plenty of kids at the park who speak Spanish and who you could meet. I think storytime at the library is also a great suggestion, and would add that you could look out for any kind of cultural events. On the other hand, I have a couple of friends who were hoping to raise their children trilingual (in NYC, where there should be everything), but they ended up ditching both minority languages (Spanish and Japanese) because they couldn't find any community or childcare providers that shared their non-linguistic values (more or less the values of this website). That aspect of finding playmates is not always easy even without the language part, but there are so many ways to take steps in the direction of more exposure to the language where you are! 

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#19 of 29 Old 11-21-2012, 01:12 PM
 
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children learn so fastthis would not be a problem for long no matter what their ability. 

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#20 of 29 Old 02-08-2013, 07:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mamafromgrays View Post

children learn so fastthis would not be a problem for long no matter what their ability. 


Sorry, but that's simply not true and ignores a lot of factors that come into play, including extent/type of minority-language exposure, cultural issues, kid's personality, etc. I think a wide variety of good advice was given above.


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#21 of 29 Old 02-10-2013, 06:07 PM
 
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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.


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#22 of 29 Old 02-12-2013, 06:52 AM
 
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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 ...

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#23 of 29 Old 02-12-2013, 11:42 PM
 
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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. 

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#24 of 29 Old 02-13-2013, 10:53 AM
 
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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 ....)

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#25 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 03:44 AM
 
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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 ???

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#26 of 29 Old 02-17-2013, 09:10 AM
 
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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! 

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#27 of 29 Old 02-17-2013, 05:25 PM
 
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... 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 ...

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#28 of 29 Old 02-27-2013, 01:13 AM
 
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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...)

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#29 of 29 Old 02-27-2013, 01:49 AM
 
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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 ....

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