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#31 of 66 Old 05-20-2013, 03:18 PM
 
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I am expecting my second child, another girl, in August, and I wonder how things will play out with her, especially how this new addition will change the dynamic of language use in the family for DD. 

I think that the above is going to be by far your biggest problem.  My parents spoke Taiwanese (the Chinese dialect of Taiwan) in the home.  I (the eldest) was very good at it.  My younger sister (the middle sibling and only one year younger) could understand but not speak. My younger brother (the baby of the family and three years younger than the middle sibling), even less so.  Based on other families that I know, this is pretty much true.  Oldest siblings are most bilingual, and younger siblings less and less bilingual.  I think that there are two main reasons that this happens.  Part of it is that the older children go to school and come home speaking English to the younger children.  The other reason is that the parents tend to start speaking more English when the younger children arrive. 

 

But even though many families end up with this fate, i think that you can successfully fight it.  My daughter's friend (age 8), is the eldest of three siblings (youngers are 6 and 3).  The mother talks to them only in Chinese, and (this is very important) the kids talk to each other only in Chinese. This is especially amazing because the father cannot speak Chinese and speaks to the children in English.  I'm not sure how she managed this.  Part of it might be because she is a stay at home mother and the 3 year old keeps all of the kids at home a lot.  But my daughter has lots of friends who have stay at home moms and they talk to their siblings in English now. I think that if you watch out for this, and catch it, then you can fight it. 

 

I think that most families don't realize that the first sign of slippage is the language that the children speak to each other.

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I'm curious, at what age did your children begin to resist?  DD is almost 4 and she does not go to school yet. Do you think I can expect more resistance as she grows up or when she enters school?

I think that you will have to be extra watchful during kindergarten.  I don't think I would call it resistance.  Its just that you will have to be extra strong during kindergarten.

 

Last year when my dd was 8, my dd's class had 3 four year olds join her Chinese school class. This was the January before they started kindergarten.  They actually did  not speak much English at all because they stayed at home instead of preschool and spoke only Chinese at home. They probably did not know much English at the time. So they spoke only Chinese during Chinese school class. Eight months later, this past autumn, they entered kindergarten.  Their English became excellent.  Now it is 8 months later than that, and they are wrapping up kindergarten.  Their Chinese is still excellent, but now their default language when they talk to each other is English. So, every fifteen minutes or so, the teacher gently says, "Speak only Chinese," and the children instantly comply until the teacher has to remind them another fifteen minutes later. This never happened last year.  I think that this is between siblings too.  Two of these three kindergarteners are twins, and they were calling each other "stupid" in English when they were fighting in Chinese school last week.

 

However, I really think that if you are super vigilant, and know what to look for and fight it, you will be successful.  The other two kids in the Chinese class are siblings, and as I said above, their mother has somehow managed to figure out how to keep them talking to each other in Chinese.

 

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As for my stance, I think she understands.

... So I think she understands it's important, but I can't really tell for sure if she knows why it's important. 

Regarding the above, understanding that it is important to you is good enough for now.  At this age, don't worry about whether she understands why you think it is important!

 

 

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I really like this idea of making it a game. I had toyed with using a puppet. When she wants me to speak in English (so far this has been 3 times in the past 6 months, so very rare), I could use a doll or a hand puppet that would be a stand in for me.  It would turn it into a game and associate English speaking mom with the doll only. Too silly?

I think that it is a great idea.  Of course it is not too silly, especially if it turns out that it works.  And if it doesn't work, then try something else.  My thought is that if you are creative and innovative, eventually you will hit upon something that works.  There is no reason that everything that you try has to work.  What is important is that if something does not work, then you shouldn't just keep banging your head against the wall trying to get it to work.  Instead, just use your imagination to think of something else to try.

 

Oh yes. Three times in six months is so rare, it is not even worth worrying about.  That's not even a phase, and it is certainly not even a slippery slope!   But it is good for you to think about these issues now.

 

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Also, it's definitely not a long shot about teaching in the Arab world. I am from there, so I still have contacts and a house to stay in my country of origin (Jordan). I could easily spend my sabbatical there (coming up soon since I just got tenured and promoted, wahoo!), and there are indeed plenty of opportunities for study-abroad teaching during the summer or regular semesters. DD has already been to Jordan twice, and both trips have been excellent for her Arabic development.  The only issue there, like for many of us, is the insane cost of airfare! The college will cover mine, but not spouses or children, and that will amount to thousands of dollars easily. Still, I intend on making it work somehow so that we make a trip back home every few years or so for sure.

 

Congratulations on getting tenure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   I was going to suggest a sabbatical leave back home, but I couldn't tell from your original post whether or not you are tenure track. 

 

Even if you can't swing the money for the airfare for taking your family with you for a sabbatical leave to Jordan next year, maybe you can save up the money to take the family with you in a few years to teach during a summer semester.   My husband taught a three week course in China a couple years ago, and I didn't go with my dd because we didn't have enough time to save money for our airfare.  But you know that such opportunities are plentiful.  You certainly don't have to go to Jordan every year, although it would be nice.  Just once every few years will be a huge help. 

 

Or, do you think you could save up the airfare in only one year? How about postponing your sabbatical leave for one year until you can save up the airfare? For example, at my institution, sabbatical leave is only for one semester, and my institution has been reluctant to hire a temporary replacement for only one semester.  So in the past, my department has been known to coordinate our sabbatical leaves so that one member takes sabbatical in the Fall semester and a second member takes sabbatical in the following Spring semester, so that the university administration would be more likely to approve the hiring of a sabbatical replacement for the entire academic year.   So maybe you could do some wheeling and dealing like that.

 

Or, if you need to take your sabbatical leave on schedule before you can save up the airfare, would it be possible to do your sabbatical leave in the Dearborn MI / Detroit area? (Forgive me if this sounds really insensitive, but the Middle Eastern grocery store here drives three hours to Dearborn every week to pick up everything that they sell, so I would guess that you can find lots children who actually speak Arabic. Maybe you know people who live there who could tell you more about the community.  The food in Dearborn would certainly be delicious, and Midwesterners are very friendly!!)

 

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and the Arabic teacher. All of this reinforces the Arabic, as you say, but it's getting so hard to find Arabic children who actually speak Arabic. Almost all of them speak English, and once we get together, DD speaks English with them because they speak English with her! Lots of Arab parents, while avowing love for the Arabic language and saying they want their kids to speak Arabic, speak English with their kids. There are many reasons for this, but it sets a bad example for DD.

 

That's why I said that having the parents lead the playgroup probably won't work.  By the time my dd was 4, my dd figured out that everyone she encountered who spoke Chinese to her also knows how to speak English.  She figured out that if she pretends not to know how to speak Chinese, then eventually they would break down and revert to English.  All of these adults were manipulated by a four year old!

 

So try to find someone who isn't one of the parents in the playgroup.  (Parents are such pushovers.  They are the first people to break down and revert to English.)  My dd's Chinese school teacher just tells the kids to speak only Chinese and they comply.  If a parent made an attempt, I doubt it would work.

 

It's even better if the person you find is not very good with English.   After Chinese class, my dd takes an drawing class where the art teacher who can barely speak English.  In fact, the teacher and I have a lot of problems communicating because she doesn't have enough English to understand what I say, and I don't have enough Chinese to understand what she says.  But, my dd has no problem understanding what the art teacher is talking about during the art class, and does just fine.

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#32 of 66 Old 05-20-2013, 03:52 PM
 
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DD does not currently go to school; she stays home with DH who is SAHD. When she does go, there is no option for Arabic schooling or for significant Arabic exposure where I am, hence my insistence on the monolingual approach with her which is working like a charm.

 

Even though there is no option for Arabic schooling or exposure where you live right now, that will likely change over the years, and faster than you think.  Where I live is in the middle of nowhere in the countryside.  Very homogeneous ethnic demographics.  And yet, for various reasons, now there is a significant Arabic population that recently built a mosque that was welcomed by the general community.  My daughter goes to school with children who do speak Arabic.  5-10 years ago, I would have said that you were crazy to suggest that it would happen. 

 

Where I live is still very homogeneous, and yet people here are starting to become interested in the Arabic language and culture.

 

So it may be less intimidating if you keep in mind that you have to hang in there for just a few more years.  Eventually, as things get better where you live (and they will), you will get more support.

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#33 of 66 Old 05-20-2013, 04:10 PM
 
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One more thing, on a totally different subject.   Naomi Steiner spoke of something that lowered my anxiety level considerably.  One of the myths that she busted was that bilingual is black and white, you either have it or you don't.  Your child can either speak perfectly, or not.  But her point is that being bilingual is a continuum.  Even if your child doesn't speak like a native, or even speak at all, if your child can understand, then that is HUGE. 

 

And even if it seems like they can't speak, there's probably more sticking to them than you think.  I went to Chinese school once a week when I was a child from second grade through high school, and I never considered myself very good at it.  In fact, in college I would tell people that I didn't know any Chinese at all.  However, twenty years later, when I started to try to teach my dd Chinese, it all came back.  In fact, more came back than I thought I knew. 

 

Also, my daughter, like most children, has an amazing memory so she can remember vocabulary words better than me.  So in some ways, it is true that children have an easier time learning a language than in adults, but only in some aspects.  For example, I have analytical skills that adults have and children don't have, and so in other ways, I can learn other things in Chinese faster than my daughter.

 

I have decided that it is way too stressful to think of it as you have to get your kid totally bilingual right NOW and all by yourself.  Instead, I have come to think it is healthier to think of it as every step towards bilingualism you accomplish during childhood, is one less step your child will have to struggle over as an adult. 

 

For example, when you try to teach an adult Chinese, the really big problem is that a syllable in Chinese has five different inflections of tone that adults just cannot hear the difference.  If they cannot hear the difference, then the adult cannot perfectly imitate the Chinese language to learn to speak Chinese effectively.  On the other hand, it is very easy to get children to hear the distinctions between the five different sounds that sound identical to an adult.  So in Chinese, just getting a child to learn that simple skill of telling apart the five different tones, and eventually effectively imitating the different inflections is HUGE.  Even if the child learns nothing else until say grade school or high school, if you can maintain that little skill though out childhood, then everything else can be easily taught later when the child is older and has developed the interest. 

 

I'll bet that the Arabic language is similar in some ways. In fact, I am sure of it.  I work very hard to learn to pronounce all of my students' names correctly, and most of my Arabic students tell me that I get their names perfectly.  However, once I had a student with an unusual Arabic name, and I just cannot get it correct because I cannot hear how my pronunciation is wrong.  

 

So the absolute worst case scenario is that your child grows up to not master every single aspect of speaking Arabic.  However, you will have built a very important foundation on which your child can easily learn the rest of the skills when he/she gets older and more interested. 

 

So just get as far as you can, and keep feeding the Arabic language to your child even if it doesn't seem to be sinking in.  On some level, deep down, it is sinking in, and that is what is important.  It may not be obvious at the time, or even ten years later, but someday eventually, evidence of your persistence will surface.

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#34 of 66 Old 05-20-2013, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks emilysmama! I wish I knew how to work the nifty multi-quoting function. I know there's a button at the bottom of the post, but for some reason, I can't seem to work it (who am I kidding; I'm not exactly tech-savvy).

 

I do agree with you that DD2 will significantly change the dynamic of the language use in the house; however, I plan on remaining as vigilant as I have been thus far. If I recall, eclipsepearl posted on another thread some time ago that her three children speak French to each other but English to her.  They have sustained their multilingualism and fluency in English despite this.  Your story of your DD's friend gives me much hope, but it sure does help being the SAHP in that situation.

 

And yes, kindergarten will be the challenge. I am planning on enrolling her in a magnet Spanish immersion school (if we get in; it's lottery). Not only will she get another language, but I think it will diffuse the totalizing effect of English. All three languages will be on equal footing, or at least that's how I am rationalizing it. Who knows what's really going to happen.

 

I am a worrier and as scholar of literature am obsessed with language and identity politics -- occupational hazard :)

 

Thank you for your congratulations!!! I am not taking my sabbatical next year; I can't even take maternity leave.  Now this will sound unbelievable, but my institution does not have full pay maternity leave, only reduced pay "disability leave." AND I actually begin chairing the department next year, so it's going to be challenging for a while. At any rate, our sabbaticals are similar --only one semester at full pay or 1 year at reduced pay and only if all other factors click in for the administration.  So I suspect I will apply for sabbatical in a year or so at which point I do hope I will have saved some money. Thanks for the suggestion about Michigan! It's not insensitive at all!

 

To clarify about Arabic schooling. We do actually have it, but it's Islamic focused Arabic instruction, and a lot of the instruction is in English,except the Qur'an.  So, as I am not religiously inclined, this kind of Arabic schooling is not for me.  While I am heartened by your optimism, I suspect that a secular Arabic education won't really gain much traction here. 

 

And thank you for your wonderful last post as well! I am a big fan of the idea of the continuum; it certainly applies to so many identity markers!  I "know" this, and I understand this idea intellectually, but emotionally it's so hard to live it. Do you know what I mean? I really need to work more actively on stressing less about this. DD has shown great aptitude for the language; her pronunciation is impeccable, and Arabic has some pretty difficult sounds.  And she can tell the difference between standard Arabic and dialect, which is also great at this age. So I need to keep reminding myself that the foundation is there.

 

More later, I hope. Stories and bed for DD now!

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#35 of 66 Old 05-20-2013, 06:47 PM
 
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I used Purist in my post and absolutely did not mean to imply our native languages are in any way superior to English. I have nothing but respect for USA, English, the culture and its people. I only meant it in the context of teaching a child a minority language while being surrounded by English in every form and media.

I don't think anyone meant anything evil by using the word "purist."  I still felt called to post, though.

 

I actually come from an area with language issues (Quebec).  People who are "true" Quebecoise are said to be "pure laine"  (pure wool - or dyed in the wool.) It is distasteful, to say the least.  Interestingly, it is a sort of discrimination that turns in on itself - some Francophones in Quebec define other Francophones as "pure laine" or not  - us English sorts are not any sort of wool, I guess.  

 

In any event, and perhaps because of my baggage,  I tend to be very careful about messages that place one language over another. I fear extreme devotion to speaking one language over another can give messages that one language is better than another.  Maybe you can be a purist without giving out this message, but I think it has to be done with a lot of caution.  

 

A little OT, but some of the "pure laine" crap out of Quebec is dying (thank g-d).  I have noticed in recent years a number of Quebecers who switch fluently from English to French and back again - often in the same sentence.  It is a great thing to see, actually.  smile.gif  I am not sure that is possible in an area where the other language is not common, but still.  The interweaving of two languages makes it less polarized - less "we speak English with Mommy and French with Daddy and everyone else" and "we speak English and French".  I wonder if it ultimately promotes more bilingualism in the long run than a polarized way of doing it?  Once again, I understand this might not be possible in areas where the other language is not readily available.  

 

It might be useful, OP, to explain to your child why you make the choices you do - weave them into your conversations. Maybe you do that already (it has been a few days since I read the whole thread).


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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#36 of 66 Old 05-20-2013, 07:10 PM
 
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I think that the above is going to be by far your biggest problem.  My parents spoke Taiwanese (the Chinese dialect of Taiwan) in the home.  I (the eldest) was very good at it.  My younger sister (the middle sibling and only one year younger) could understand but not speak. My younger brother (the baby of the family and three years younger than the middle sibling), even less so.  Based on other families that I know, this is pretty much true.  Oldest siblings are most bilingual, and younger siblings less and less bilingual.  I think that there are two main reasons that this happens.  Part of it is that the older children go to school and come home speaking English to the younger children.  The other reason is that the parents tend to start speaking more English when the younger children arrive. 

I would agree with this, it is what has happened in our family. I speak the dominant language and my husband speaks the non dominant language. He spoke only that language to our first, then the second came along and I and my first spoke English to the baby and my husband tended to take care of the older one rather than the baby, because I always had the baby, so the second had less exposure, then by the time the third came along, even less for him, as now there were two older siblings and mom, and the community speaking English. The end result is that each child knows less and none are bilingual, they only know the odd word here and there, the oldest can understand more, but not speak. I do think you have the advantage that you as mom are the nondominant language. There is no doubt in my mind that if we lived in my husbands country, then they would be bilingual, as I am the one who is around all day and I talk to them the most, so they would absolutely have learned English even if we lived elsewhere. I do think if mom is the primary caregiver and speaks the non dominant lang there is a better chance of ending up biligual

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#37 of 66 Old 05-20-2013, 10:36 PM
 
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I do think if mom is the primary caregiver and speaks the non dominant lang there is a better chance of ending up biligual

 

totally agree with that (= not my case, am now the dominant language speaker, in "my" country, i struggle with DS)

 

OP, would it be possible for you to advertise for a Saturday school teacher AND for other students whose parents would be willing to enrol them in "your" seculart arabic language Saturday school ? There's bound to be other parents like you who are not willing to let their kids learn Arabic as is currently taught locally to you but are mourning the chance of having a "non-parent" do a once a week secular arabic class ? ... you would then share costs ...

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#38 of 66 Old 05-21-2013, 05:33 AM
 
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And yes, kindergarten will be the challenge. I am planning on enrolling her in a magnet Spanish immersion school (if we get in; it's lottery). Not only will she get another language, but I think it will diffuse the totalizing effect of English. All three languages will be on equal footing, or at least that's how I am rationalizing it. Who knows what's really going to happen.

 

I am a worrier and as scholar of literature am obsessed with language and identity politics -- occupational hazard :)

My kids are in Spanish immersion as well! What is helpful is seeing other kids growing up with a different home language. Also they were pretty fearless about going into immersion not understanding anything. They do tell me sometimes that after a day of two languages already, speaking their third at home can be tiring, but it hasn't been a major issue.

 

Similar occupational hazard being a translator! My expectations were very high & I had to dial them back a bit, not be so critical, and realize WOW, I have trilingual kids!! It's a lot of work and may not turn out exactly how I expect, but it will pay off for them in the end.


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#39 of 66 Old 05-21-2013, 05:36 AM
 
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One more thing, on a totally different subject.   Naomi Steiner spoke of something that lowered my anxiety level considerably.  One of the myths that she busted was that bilingual is black and white, you either have it or you don't.  Your child can either speak perfectly, or not.  But her point is that being bilingual is a continuum.  Even if your child doesn't speak like a native, or even speak at all, if your child can understand, then that is HUGE. 

 

I have to +1 everything you've said, emilysmama!! It took me a long time to realize this. My DH always tries to talk me down and tell me that it's amazing that our community has any heritage speakers at all in the third generation. Again, I chalk up my expectations to occupational hazard being a translator. In our industry everyone's language skills get scrutinized to the n-th degree, and rightly so - for that context, not for others.


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#40 of 66 Old 05-21-2013, 05:41 AM
 
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I actually come from an area with language issues (Quebec).  People who are "true" Quebecoise are said to be "pure laine"  (pure wool - or dyed in the wool.) It is distasteful, to say the least.  Interestingly, it is a sort of discrimination that turns in on itself - some Francophones in Quebec define other Francophones as "pure laine" or not  - us English sorts are not any sort of wool, I guess.  

 

I definitely sympathize with your POV. My community is similar - small, insular, hierarchical. Things have changed since I was a kid: in the past some parents did not let their kids play with the kids who spoke mostly/only English - I am not joking, and yes, it's terrible; I have friends who suffered through this. But there has always a sort of unspoken - and sometimes spoken - hierarchy in our community with the kids whose parents are both from our community and speak the language well at the top and those who don't speak the language well or have one English-speaking parent on a lower rung. It's an ugly truth, but one that people seem to be getting past FINALLY, thank goodness.

 

PS My daughter equates this situation to Harry Potter where there are wizards from wizarding families and then there are the "muggle born." I thought it was interesting that she made that connection.


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#41 of 66 Old 05-21-2013, 05:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It might be useful, OP, to explain to your child why you make the choices you do - weave them into your conversations. Maybe you do that already (it has been a few days since I read the whole thread).

 

I agree, and I try to do that as age-appropriately and sometimes as "subliminally" as possible. So for example, instead of emphasizing the significance of the language outright (and I do that as well), I frequently tell her stories about my grandmother in Palestine or highlight other important cultural and ethnic artifacts, events, histories etc., all of which are intimately tied with the Arabic language. Because this world exists only in Arabic, I am banking on the idea that her love for one will necessitate her love for the other, and that Arabic then becomes the medium through which the magic and wonder of this world happens.

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#42 of 66 Old 05-21-2013, 06:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OP, would it be possible for you to advertise for a Saturday school teacher AND for other students whose parents would be willing to enrol them in "your" seculart arabic language Saturday school ? There's bound to be other parents like you who are not willing to let their kids learn Arabic as is currently taught locally to you but are mourning the chance of having a "non-parent" do a once a week secular arabic class ? ... you would then share costs ...

 

Hi, IsaFrench! Yes, and we do actually have a teacher that comes on Sunday to teach her (not very expensive). This is mostly for reinforcement (other people speak Arabic in the world besides Mama, and Arabic is a serious subject that you actually have to study kind of thing). I do a lot of the "teaching" myself. DD knows her Arabic letters (verbally and by sight) and can write some of them and read small words. None of this happened through formal instructions -- just lots and lots of reading. The teacher is from the aforementioned school (Islamic/Arabic), and although she's only been in the US for four years, she still uses English words frequently with DD.  It's not ideal, but it's better than nothing.

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#43 of 66 Old 05-21-2013, 06:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have to +1 everything you've said, emilysmama!! It took me a long time to realize this. My DH always tries to talk me down and tell me that it's amazing that our community has any heritage speakers at all in the third generation. Again, I chalk up my expectations to occupational hazard being a translator. In our industry everyone's language skills get scrutinized to the n-th degree, and rightly so - for that context, not for others.

 

Third generation! Ragana, that is amazing!!! I came to the US for graduate school as an adult, so my daughter is only first generation. I keep thinking: it might work with DD, but then what? If she has any children, what might it be like for them? I suspect that the language will stop with her :( Still, I got to do what I got to do and that's all I can worry about.

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#44 of 66 Old 05-21-2013, 06:47 AM
 
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Edited to add:  OOPS!  We posted at the same time.  I posted before I saw your post that you have a teacher coming in on Sunday.  Sorry for the cross-purposes.

 

 

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To clarify about Arabic schooling. We do actually have it, but it's Islamic focused Arabic instruction, and a lot of the instruction is in English,except the Qur'an.  So, as I am not religiously inclined, this kind of Arabic schooling is not for me.  While I am heartened by your optimism, I suspect that a secular Arabic education won't really gain much traction here. 

 

 

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OP, would it be possible for you to advertise for a Saturday school teacher AND for other students whose parents would be willing to enrol them in "your" seculart arabic language Saturday school ? There's bound to be other parents like you who are not willing to let their kids learn Arabic as is currently taught locally to you but are mourning the chance of having a "non-parent" do a once a week secular arabic class ? ... you would then share costs ...

 

Diyabolo,

 

IsaFrench has a good suggestion. You only need two to four more children to make the playgroup a fun experience. The children don't even have to be exactly the same age.  My dd was 7, and the other kids were 6, 5, 4, 4, 4.  I think you could find those children more easily than you'd think. 

 

Three families chipping in for a person to lead the playgroup works out to be very reasonable. 

 

If you pitched it to other parents correctly, I'll bet that you could even find those children from among the children who attend the religious based Arabic instruction.  I think you would want to sell the secular playgroup as a SUPPLEMENT, and not a substitute, for the Saturday school. Perhaps then you would find enough interested parents.  If the parents understood that formal language instruction is very different from instruction about everyday conversation, then you might be able to generate interest from some of the parents.  For example, when I went to Chinese school as a kid, we learned only boring vocabulary words that are important for adults to learn, like "Thank you" and "Your welcome".  My daughter is learning those things too, but she is also learning vocabulary words that are important for kids' everyday life, like  "slide", "teeter-totter", "ghost", "Halloween". 

 

Not every parent in the Arabic community will see that it is important to learn how to speak Arabic as an everyday language, but you only need one or two families who see this as a cultural preservation issue in order to have enough kids to make this work.

 

Not that I know what I am talking about, but I would think that the local Imam might be very excited and supportive about an idea like this, and would probably see the value of a secular based learning experience.  I mean, you would want a child to speak Arabic during the other six days of the week talking about normal things, not just on Saturdays for a couple of hours during Saturday school, so that the religious learning on Saturdays becomes more effective.

 

You wouldn't even have to do this on Saturday.  You could do it on a different day of the week. You could do two hours a week, with a snack time where each child brings his own snack.  (Or if the other parents preferred, you could do it on Saturday for just one hour, after the religious based class is dismissed.  That would be very convenient for the parents whose children attend Saturday school.)

 

 

 

 

Quote from Diyabolo:
Thank you for your congratulations!!! I am not taking my sabbatical next year; I can't even take maternity leave.  Now this will sound unbelievable, but my institution does not have full pay maternity leave, only reduced pay "disability leave." AND I actually begin chairing the department next year, so it's going to be challenging for a while. At any rate, our sabbaticals are similar --only one semester at full pay or 1 year at reduced pay and only if all other factors click in for the administration.  So I suspect I will apply for sabbatical in a year or so at which point I do hope I will have saved some money.

Well, the above doesn't sound unbelievable to me, because that is exactly what happened to me! My "maternity leave" consisted of first using up all of my sick days, and then going on 67% pay short term disability.  Still, I considered myself lucky, because it's more than most people get, even in academia. 

 

Usually, if you're going to be on leave for a future semester, you dump it on the department chair to find someone to cover the courses.  Well, I was the department chair at the time, so yours truly had to find people to teach my 4 courses (physics) for the semester that I was planning to be on leave. That is NOT a relaxing way to prepare to go on maternity leave.  Especially because my Dean told me that he would not hire a full time person to cover my classes for the semester.  I was told to use adjuncts and put it together piecemeal.  The problem was that I could not find any qualified adjuncts.  Fortunately for me, the chair of the math department was very sweet and let me borrow one of his Lecturers (who just happened to have graduated with a double major in physics) for a semester.  So before you become chair, make sure and become friendly with the other department chairs!

 

Our sabbaticals are like yours.  No one here takes one year at reduced pay, so the only real option most of us here take is one semester at full pay.

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The hardest part would be to find just the right teacher.  The typical mother would make it boring and dull.  You want to find someone who is fun and very imaginative and creative. 

 

Here are some things that my dd's teacher did. 

 

The teacher would take common board games purchased from a thrift store and modify them slightly.  (1) For example, do you know the game Jenga, with the blocks that you form into a tall tower, and you have to slide out a block at a time?  As the tower progressively gets more and more unstable, the tower eventually tumbles down in a great crash?  Well, she prepared the blocks by writing a Chinese word at the end of each block.  So before each turn, the child had to read the Chinese word out loud before sliding out the chosen block.

 

(2) She modified the board game Candyland in a very clever way, too.  

 

(3) She had the kids do a simple seasonal craft  whenever the appropriate secular holiday came up. (Mother's Day card, decorating a paper heart doily for Valentine's Day, etc. with the Chinese word for "mother" or "love" childishly written in the middle ) 

 

(4) There was singing songs with dance steps

 

(5) To teach the writing of simple words, she had the kids stand in single file and use index finger to write on the back of the child in front

 

(6) Fingerpainting or brush painting to learn to write the Chinese word of the day

 

(7) Making playdough and then using the playdough to form simple Chinese characters

 

(8) A very popular learning activity involving shaving cream

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Third generation! Ragana, that is amazing!!! I came to the US for graduate school as an adult, so my daughter is only first generation. I keep thinking: it might work with DD, but then what? If she has any children, what might it be like for them? I suspect that the language will stop with her :( Still, I got to do what I got to do and that's all I can worry about.

There is lots of hope for you. Maybe it won't stop with her.  I am second generation, and I have to say that I'm not very impressive.  Back when I was a child, assimilation was very important, not cultural identity.  However, my dd is third generation and I put a high priority on bilingualism, and somehow dd turned out to be really very impressive.  My dd has to work much harder than her second generation friends, and she is much smarter than I ever was, but I always have a hard time believing that my dd was able to do as well as she has.

 

Your daughter sounds like she is already on course to get to where you want.  You've given her a really strong foundation, and it sounds like she is really smart.  Because of your hard work, she's already got the tools to carry it on to the next generation, if she decides to make it a priority when she has children.

 

Plus, when your daughter becomes a mother, she will have YOU.  That will be really important.  Even if, for some reason, your child eventually loses the ability to speak in Arabic, you can talk to your grandchildren in Arabic.  (My mom talks to my dd in Chinese for only one or two hours a week, and it is a huge help.)  But more important, you already understand the importance of speaking only Arabic.  It took me years to convince my mother to not speak English to my dd.  My mother and I had terrible fights over this. My mother says that, after living in the U.S. for 4.5 decades, it is too difficult for an old lady to just stick to Chinese and no English.  Your daughter won't have to try to convince you that it is worth the extra effort, because you already know that.

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Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post

 

 

Diyabolo,

 

IsaFrench has a good suggestion. You only need two to four more children to make the playgroup a fun experience. The children don't even have to be exactly the same age.  My dd was 7, and the other kids were 6, 5, 4, 4, 4.  I think you could find those children more easily than you'd think. 

 

Three families chipping in for a person to lead the playgroup works out to be very reasonable. 

 

If you pitched it to other parents correctly, I'll bet that you could even find those children from among the children who attend the religious based Arabic instruction.  I think you would want to sell the secular playgroup as a SUPPLEMENT, and not a substitute, for the Saturday school. Perhaps then you would find enough interested parents.  If the parents understood that formal language instruction is very different from instruction about everyday conversation, then you might be able to generate interest from some of the parents.  For example, when I went to Chinese school as a kid, we learned only boring vocabulary words that are important for adults to learn, like "Thank you" and "Your welcome".  My daughter is learning those things too, but she is also learning vocabulary words that are important for kids' everyday life, like  "slide", "teeter-totter", "ghost", "Halloween". 

 

Not every parent in the Arabic community will see that it is important to learn how to speak Arabic as an everyday language, but you only need one or two families who see this as a cultural preservation issue in order to have enough kids to make this work.

 

Not that I know what I am talking about, but I would think that the local Imam might be very excited and supportive about an idea like this, and would probably see the value of a secular based learning experience.  I mean, you would want a child to speak Arabic during the other six days of the week talking about normal things, not just on Saturdays for a couple of hours during Saturday school, so that the religious learning on Saturdays becomes more effective.

 

You wouldn't even have to do this on Saturday.  You could do it on a different day of the week. You could do two hours a week, with a snack time where each child brings his own snack.  (Or if the other parents preferred, you could do it on Saturday for just one hour, after the religious based class is dismissed.  That would be very convenient for the parents whose children attend Saturday school.)

 

This is a great idea! I think once the new baby arrives, and DD goes to preschool next year, I will definitely do this.

 

 

Well, the above doesn't sound unbelievable to me, because that is exactly what happened to me! My "maternity leave" consisted of first using up all of my sick days, and then going on 67% pay short term disability.  Still, I considered myself lucky, because it's more than most people get, even in academia. 

 

Usually, if you're going to be on leave for a future semester, you dump it on the department chair to find someone to cover the courses.  Well, I was the department chair at the time, so yours truly had to find people to teach my 4 courses (physics) for the semester that I was planning to be on leave. That is NOT a relaxing way to prepare to go on maternity leave.  Especially because my Dean told me that he would not hire a full time person to cover my classes for the semester.  I was told to use adjuncts and put it together piecemeal.  The problem was that I could not find any qualified adjuncts.  Fortunately for me, the chair of the math department was very sweet and let me borrow one of his Lecturers (who just happened to have graduated with a double major in physics) for a semester.  So before you become chair, make sure and become friendly with the other department chairs!

 

Wow! That must have been very challenging. And very similar situations, but we've got a 3/3 load with one course release for chairing. Our school is so small (very small liberal arts college), so it's really easy to interact and cooperate with other faculty and staff.

 

Our sabbaticals are like yours.  No one here takes one year at reduced pay, so the only real option most of us here take is one semester at full pay.

 

It's hard being a woman/mother in academia! I had no idea until I did it :)

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The hardest part would be to find just the right teacher.  The typical mother would make it boring and dull.  You want to find someone who is fun and very imaginative and creative. 

 

Here are some things that my dd's teacher did. 

 

The teacher would take common board games purchased from a thrift store and modify them slightly.  (1) For example, do you know the game Jenga, with the blocks that you form into a tall tower, and you have to slide out a block at a time?  As the tower progressively gets more and more unstable, the tower eventually tumbles down in a great crash?  Well, she prepared the blocks by writing a Chinese word at the end of each block.  So before each turn, the child had to read the Chinese word out loud before sliding out the chosen block.

 

(2) She modified the board game Candyland in a very clever way, too.  

 

(3) She had the kids do a simple seasonal craft  whenever the appropriate secular holiday came up. (Mother's Day card, decorating a paper heart doily for Valentine's Day, etc. with the Chinese word for "mother" or "love" childishly written in the middle ) 

 

(4) There was singing songs with dance steps

 

(5) To teach the writing of simple words, she had the kids stand in single file and use index finger to write on the back of the child in front

 

(6) Fingerpainting or brush painting to learn to write the Chinese word of the day

 

(7) Making playdough and then using the playdough to form simple Chinese characters

 

(8) A very popular learning activity involving shaving cream

 

These are fantastic! I do versions of these with DD myself, but I totally will do the jenga! What's number 8? Not sure which shaving cream activity you mean (actually, I don't know any :)

 

Thanks emilysmama!

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Yes, we are a stubborn people! orngtongue.gif
 

 

Hey, I hear ya! I'm Palestinian! We're really stubborn :)

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There is lots of hope for you. Maybe it won't stop with her.  I am second generation, and I have to say that I'm not very impressive.  Back when I was a child, assimilation was very important, not cultural identity.  However, my dd is third generation and I put a high priority on bilingualism, and somehow dd turned out to be really very impressive.  My dd has to work much harder than her second generation friends, and she is much smarter than I ever was, but I always have a hard time believing that my dd was able to do as well as she has.

 

Your daughter sounds like she is already on course to get to where you want.  You've given her a really strong foundation, and it sounds like she is really smart.  Because of your hard work, she's already got the tools to carry it on to the next generation, if she decides to make it a priority when she has children.

 

Plus, when your daughter becomes a mother, she will have YOU.  That will be really important.  Even if, for some reason, your child eventually loses the ability to speak in Arabic, you can talk to your grandchildren in Arabic.  (My mom talks to my dd in Chinese for only one or two hours a week, and it is a huge help.)  But more important, you already understand the importance of speaking only Arabic.  It took me years to convince my mother to not speak English to my dd.  My mother and I had terrible fights over this. My mother says that, after living in the U.S. for 4.5 decades, it is too difficult for an old lady to just stick to Chinese and no English.  Your daughter won't have to try to convince you that it is worth the extra effort, because you already know that.

 

Thanks, emilysmama. Your posts have been so encouraging!  And of course, you're right. I will be there for my grandchildren. I'm not sure why I didn't think of that. I have a tenuous relationship with my own mother, so that's probably why. Although I can safely say that the most important person in my life has been my own grandmother. She was an illiterate village woman but probably the smartest and strongest woman I have ever known.  Again, many thanks for your posts.

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These are fantastic! I do versions of these with DD myself, but I totally will do the jenga! What's number 8? Not sure which shaving cream activity you mean (actually, I don't know any :)

 

Thanks emilysmama!

Shaving cream:  I forget exactly.  I think she spread a layer of shaving cream onto a cookie sheet or some other flat surface, and had the children stick index finger into the shaving cream to "write" Chinese characters?  It is a common teaching technique that regular teachers do with children who learn by doing (kinesthetic? learners).  I'm assuming that the teacher found out about it on the internet and adapted it to suit her objective. She also found craft ideas for kids on the internet and adapted them for learning Chinese.

 

Jenga:  She put a little piece of making tape at the end of each Jenga block, and wrote the Chinese character onto the masking tape.  So she could have changed the words on the blocks to suit her lesson, if she had wished.

 

The teacher just announced that she is pregnant, so she won't be able to teach in the foreseeable future, and probably not for many years.  So sad we are losing her because she will be an extremely tough act to follow.  (Every single one of my Chinese school teachers as a child was really boring, and I had a lot of them.)  But I am happy for her, and I will just keep telling myself to be grateful for the two years with her and that she has laid a very strong foundation on which to build.

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I do think if mom is the primary caregiver and speaks the non dominant lang there is a better chance of ending up biligual

I agree.  You know, I was just thinking this same thing the other day, and that it's not called the "mother tongue" for nothing.

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I agree.  You know, I was just thinking this same thing the other day, and that it's not called the "mother tongue" for nothing.


Yep, I was not the primary caregiver and speak the non-dominant language, so I'm glad my kids speak at all.


Mom "D" to DD1 "Z" (14) and DD2 "I" (11) DH "M"

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Diyabolo,

 

I saw in your post that your dd will be going to preschool next year, and I have an idea that you may or may not like.  

 

So first, here is what gave me the idea:

 

My dd (9 y.o.) has been going to a humungous day care center since she was 6 months old.  (Full time until Kindergarten. Since beginning of kindergarten, after school during the school year, and full-time during the summers.)

 

Last summer, my daughter told me that once a week, every week, the day care teaches the children Chinese during the summer!   I questioned my daughter further for details.  It seems that every Tuesday, a lady (perhaps one of the mothers of one of the daycare kids), came to the daycare to teach the children Chinese.  (Now, this day care has a ton of kids, and each age group is organized by age.  You know, they have an infant room, an early toddler's room, a toddler's room, an early K-3 class, a regular K-3 class, a K-4 class, a transitional K-5 class for kindergarteners, and a school-age class for grades 1 and above (technically up to the age of 12, but realistically probably only up to grade 5.)  Anyway, it seems that this Chinese teacher goes from one classroom to another and spends ~30 minutes at each classroom teaching the children Chinese.  (I'm sure that she doesn't do the 2 year olds of course, but my daughter said that she did the pre-school age classes and the school-age class, and she did each class separately for obvious reasons.) 

 

Real simple stuff, of course, because there are maybe only 2 children in the entire daycare who can speak any Chinese at all, and kids lose attention pretty fast.  Things like how to say "Thank you", "Hello", "Good-bye" for the preschoolers. Learning the basic phonetic sounds (pinyin) spoken in Chinese, and putting the sounds together to learn to pronounce simple Chinese words, for the school-age kids because they have the ability to read and pronounce English letters of the alphabet.

 

I have no idea if this lady was a volunteer, or if she was paid a token amount by the daycare, but I think that last summer was amazing in ways that weren't initially obvious to me.

 

1.  The children in the daycare were exposed to a tiny sliver of my daughter's culture.  I hesitate to sound insensitive, but the fact is that my daughter's daycare reflects the demographics of the small city that I live in.  When my dd was in K-4, every single girl in her class (except my dd) had fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes.

 

2.  The children in the daycare were proud that they were "learning" to speak Chinese.  It is the first introduction to these "American" children have that the idea of knowing how to speak Chinese is cool, and not something to hide in shame. Eventually, in a few years, these children might go to the schools with my dd, and perhaps this idea will grow.  (Planting this tiny seed of good-will is not entirely far-fetched, I believe, based on another experience that I have had.  During the year before my dd entered elementary school, the elementary school had a full-time teacher from Taiwan teach all of the elementary school classes Chinese for a year.  Nothing fancy, just one hour per week, per classroom.  So it's not like they would learn to actually speak Chinese, but they would get a little taste and perhaps someday still be interested enough to eventually take a Chinese course in college.  Learn how to say some key conversational phrases, sing a few songs.  Just like how my dd's elementary school "teaches" the children Spanish. Certainly not an immersion.The money for the Chinese teacher ran out right when my daughter entered kindergarten, so the Chinese teacher was gone by the time my dd entered that school.   However, to this very day, four years later after the teacher left, there are still random children from the fourth and fifth grades of my dd's elementary school who come up to me and reminisce fondly about this experience of learning Chinese.)

 

3.  My daughter is exposed to the idea that the other day care kids think that it is "cool" that my dd knows how to speak Chinese, and experience a little bit of what my dd had to struggle to master as a toddler.

 

Now finally, here is my idea for you:

 

Wouldn't it be cool if you could find an Arabic-speaking mother who would be willing to volunteer to come to your dd's pre-school (which I assume will have few Arabic-speaking children) for just twenty minute each week to teach the pre-school kids some super-simple conversational Arabic? 

 

Again, nothing fancy, but really easy baby stuff. 

 

For example, one week, the preschoolers could learn the English meaning of some common very simple Arabic names (i.e. Amir, Hassan, etc.).  I know that even now, in the third grade, my dd would enjoy learning that type of thing because about 5% of the kids in her school have Arabic-based first names and most girls like knowing the meaning behind all children's names.  If you didn't have the time or inclination to do the teaching yourself (I know that I wouldn't), but were willing to coordinate with the pre-school,  then I think it might be easy for you to line up a stay-at-home Arabic speaking mother who would be eager to do this. 

 

Maybe another week, send in several Arabic-speaking mothers, who come from different countries, not just from the Middle East, to the preschool.  (I.e. Indonesia, Northern Africa, France, etc.)

 

Again, not that I know anything, but maybe the local Imam might get excited about this as a way to reach out to the local community to instill a little bit of good will, and might even help out with identifying an available creative volunteer who loves working with young children. (I know that our local mosque works very hard to build an open relationship with the local community.)  I would assume that an Imam would immediately recognize the need for such instruction to be secular.  After all, these are 3 and 4 year olds, who have the attention span of a gnat, being raised in a different culture. 

 

In fact, I'll bet that if you pitched this just right, the pre-school would be really excited about it.  After all, educational institutions are really big about diversity these days, this would be much less liability than a field trip but just as interesting to the children, and it would be FREE and educational.  You might even consider telling the pre-school that this is an "economic development issue" for the part of the U.S. where you live.  (That's what one of my colleagues once told the school superintendent when throwing in his support for the superintendent's plan to create a public Chinese Immersion pre-school over here.) You just have to figure out how to state it in language that they can understand.  I'm sure that you probably already know all of the buzzwords that are used by people who educate children.  I suppose you could even look up your state's curriculum guidelines for grades P-12, and point out which state standards would be addressed by this idea.  Pre-schools love that kind of thing because it is marketable.

 

And, you know what?  Because you are a professor, I wonder if you could somehow tie this in so that you can have this count at your workplace. (Depends on your academic discipline, but even if this is not very close to your academic discipline, most academic institutions encourage professors to stretch their research interests because it encourages interdisciplinary collaborations and unusual funding opportunities.)  Maybe get a publication or a conference presentation out of this? Obviously, not your primary research interest area, but many professors also have a side interest and this one might have the potential to grow enough to someday earn your bread and butter?  (Now that is REALLY a long shot, but who knows?  Just keep your eyes open in case opportunity knocks.  And don't forget to make me a minor co-author.  :D)

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Wouldn't it be cool if you could find an Arabic-speaking mother who would be willing to volunteer to come to your dd's pre-school (which I assume will have few Arabic-speaking children) for just twenty minute each week to teach the pre-school kids some super-simple conversational Arabic? 

 

Again, nothing fancy, but really easy baby stuff. 

 

 

Sorry for the belated response, emilysmama. End of semester drama has kept me busy!

 

One thing is clear: you and I share a brain!

 

We have scant options for pre-schooling where I am in the sense that they are either full day daycares (which we don't don't want because of scheduling and content), church affiliated day-schools (which we don't want because of the religious instruction) or really expensive secular day schools (which we can't afford).

 

Then, I found out that one of our Music professors sends her daughters to a pre-school the next town over, but not very far. And, she volunteers as a music teacher there every Friday!

 

So a few months back we visited them, and I pitched the idea of doing something similar. What if I came in every week for an hour or so and gave the three groups a mini-Arabic lesson, just super simple stuff? The manager was very excited about this!

 

We liked this school more than others because of the diversity. Many of the children are Asian-American (especially Indian), and none of them batted an eye when DD and I spoke Arabic in front of them. We actually visited another school where the kids (4 years olds mind you!) immediately began making fun of DD and me for speaking Arabic. One of them actually said to me:"Can you make her speak English, please?" 

 

So, for all the reasons you explained so articulately, I am going to do this at the pre-school she'll be going to. But mostly, it's to reinforce the value of Arabic and being an Arab for my daughter. Can you imagine the kind of shame that would develop in an environment where people make fun of you for being bilingual? If DD can see that other kids want to learn Arabic and that she's good at something they are eager to learn, then that will go a long way in validating her cultural identity and bilingualism.

 

Our college is totally about engaging with the wider community, so there might be a project in this somewhere. And of course, I'll put you down as co-author! There's a huge humanities conference in Hawaii every January. How about it? :)

 

Actually, reading to DD all of those books has got me interested in Arabic children's literature and gender. Isn't it fun how you can combine your passions: parenting and scholarship!

 

Thanks for your posts! I really enjoy them, and they make me feel less alone.

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#57 of 66 Old 05-24-2013, 03:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post

I agree.  You know, I was just thinking this same thing the other day, and that it's not called the "mother tongue" for nothing.

 

Speaking of "mother tongue." Do you know that cool piece entitled "Mother Tongue" by Amy Tan? Raises very interesting issues about language.

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#58 of 66 Old 05-24-2013, 03:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yep, I was not the primary caregiver and speak the non-dominant language, so I'm glad my kids speak at all.


Yea, I'm not the primary caregiver either. It's very challenging!

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#59 of 66 Old 06-17-2013, 04:56 PM
 
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we are purists in a sence of never speaking majority language to our kids.
we have sons, almst 4 y.o and a 15 months.
we live in a bilangual community ( 70% english, 30%french).
i speak only russian to our kids, regardless of where we are and who is with us.
dh speaks only arabic to them.
me and dh are both fluent in our 2 home languages and in the 2 community languages.
I speak to dh mostly arabic with some french.

we chose to work both part time mostly to mak sure our kids learn our mother tongues. so they don't go to daycare/preschool and don't speak any french or english.

ds1 isluent in both arabic and russian at his age appropriate level.


what ould I do if I was OP.....probably what you have been doing up until now: divert attention, playfull answer etc.
i really feel that this will pass!
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#60 of 66 Old 06-17-2013, 05:00 PM
 
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oh, and i wanted to add: growing up in a bilangual family, when people forced me to speak a certain language, it never worked. it also never worked when i tried to force my dad to speak a certain language. no one can force anyone to speak a certain language.
so Op, your daugher can't force you to speak a certain language.
that's just a fact.
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