Bilingual: any English only speaking DH's not keen on... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 05-23-2008, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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the children speaking a language he can't understand?

My DH speaks only English. I grew up in an Italian/English bilingual home. I would like to teach our baby Italian (as well as English).

To me, it is was a huge gift that my parents raised me to be bilingual. I want to pass it on. Also, I'm quite biased I'm sure but I think Italian baby babble is the most adorable sound in the world.

My DH, on the other hand, worries/resents that the baby and I will have a "secret" language that he can't understand and doesn't feel he should have to learn a new language.

I've tried to reassure him that for the first few years, the baby's vocabularly will be limited enough for my DH to manage to learn and that by the time the baby has a more sophisticated Italian vocabulary, he or she will be able to also speak English quite well. But that doesn't resolve his concern about being "alienated" when we speak Italian.

It does not help that DH's Dad, whose approval DH still craves, thinks that people who live in the States should all speak English. (Don't get me started on this one...) This issue is actually a ringer as far as I'm concerned, because of course I would also want the baby to learn English. And, duh, I believe this is English that I'm typing right now which I somehow managed to learn in a bilingual household.

Has anyone else encountered any resistance to teaching their children a second language?
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#2 of 11 Old 05-28-2008, 10:20 AM
 
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Honestly, I think your Dh & his family have issues with non-english speaking immigrants.

I would so teach my children Italian if I were in your shoes. Speaking a language does not confer nationality. It just gives you a benefit later in childhood, & later in life.

I am AUstralian-American, married to an Aussie. I speak English & am semi-fluent in French, he speaks English as a first language & speaks & reads some Italian. Our DD has been learning German at school for the last 18 months, so she understands a bit of that language, on a primary school level.

Our world is complicated & intertwinned these days..... it makes sense to me that it might become a polyglot environment, where we all learn different things about different languages......

Aussiemumhippie.gif (40), DH caffix.gif (39), DD reading.gif (13), & DS 2whistle.gif(11).

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#3 of 11 Old 05-28-2008, 01:35 PM
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Mh dh doesn't resent dd speaking English (in our case, it is English that dh doesn't know), but it is becoming problematic and dd is only two and a half.

Dd is in an English speaking daycare/pre-school program, so despite the fact that we speak Russian at home, her English is becoming her ""preferred" language and her active use of English is stronger than her active use of Russian at this point. In other words, she usually speaks English (with some Russian mixed in). And that means that I basically need to translate for dh. She can understand him when he speaks Russian, but he often doesn't understand her when she speaks English. And that's fine when I'm nearby to translate, but if dd and dh are alone together, there are defintely problems. I don't really have any advice for you, unfortunately, but I can understand where your dh might be coming from. It can be hard both psychologically and simply practically when your child speaks a language that you do not understand.

I'll leave the other issue of "America is for English speakers" alone, as my dh is one of those non-English speaking immigrants

PhDin' mama to dd (Oct. 2005)
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#4 of 11 Old 05-29-2008, 02:37 PM
 
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DS is 4 now, and he is a late talker, he mixes vocabulary and generally isn't where he should be "language-wise". However, I am German, DH is French and we live in Colorado. DH has no problem me speaking German and for now we are holding on to our trilinguaism. However, it does get harder, people making comments and general doubts whether or not we are doing the right thing.
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#5 of 11 Old 05-29-2008, 07:15 PM
 
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"I've tried to reassure him that for the first few years, the baby's vocabularly will be limited enough for my DH to manage to learn and that by the time the baby has a more sophisticated Italian vocabulary, he or she will be able to also speak English quite well. But that doesn't resolve his concern about being "alienated" when we speak Italian."

I just want to say, this was so true for us. Our situation is probably a little different than most: me, DP, DS and I live with my parents. DP and I only speak Spanish to each other and to DS, and my mom didn't speak a word of Spanish. She is really close to my son and I was concerned that it would be awkward to try to maintain two languages within the household--bottom line, it has not been a problem at all, my mom has picked up on most of the basic Spanish words and she is even learning to speak sentences. Her vocab and ability to speak has advanced along just as my son's vocab has.

And honestly, living in the US usually means your kid will hear English most of the time, at least in school and in the 'outside world'. I am much more worried about DS not getting enough of the second language than him not picking up English. I was a SAHM for his first 2 years, approximately, so he heard a LOT of me talking to him in Spanish and he picked up English just as fast as Spanish, if not faster.

raising my two sunshine children.

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#6 of 11 Old 05-29-2008, 11:04 PM
 
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I was an aupair for a family in Italy. The mother was Germand and the Father Italian. They each spoke their native tongue to the kids. The mother speaks Italian. The father does not speak German. Your hubby could always make the effort to learn Italian. My partner is Italian and speaks to dd in his mothertongue. i speak to her in English. I think it is so important and such a gift to be multilingual. I fortunately speak Italian too but even if I didn't or if dp didn't speak my language I would teach it to my lo. Adults can learn languages it just takes more time and effort.

Mamma to dd1 3/8/07, one 9.5.08, and dd2 9/9/09
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#7 of 11 Old 05-29-2008, 11:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bellabaz View Post
Your hubby could always make the effort to learn Italian.
:

You could begin now by teaching your DH Italian and then as your DC grows up they'll be taught the language by both parents. I could see that becoming a fun bonding and learning activity for the entire family. No one excluded or left feeling alienated. I also agree with aussiemum about the added benefits later on in life.

Rebecca, mom to Annie (11/07/2008)
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#8 of 11 Old 05-30-2008, 10:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for your replies. Especially la mamita, your experience is reassuring. That is what I hope will happen here too.

The irony is that my DH is actually quite good at picking up words and phrases in other languages. In fact, he already has a substantial "food" vocabulary in italian, for obvious self-serving reasons. He just hates the idea of adjustments and changes. Part of this is that he was a 40 year old bachelor when I married him. Usually, though, he eventually gets used to the new order of things and then decides he likes it better. That is what I am hoping happens here.

I figure I will start picking up some italian vocabulary picture books, and even saw that there are a few children's books with text in both languages.
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#9 of 11 Old 05-30-2008, 01:40 PM
 
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This might motivate the hubby to learn Italian. If it really bothers him to not understand, he will.
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#10 of 11 Old 06-06-2008, 08:47 AM
 
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I agree with others that nows the time for your dh to learn Italian, we speak english/french in the house but spoke italian to each other for the first few years together because it was our common language, we've both made an effort to learn each other's language, now my daughter is asking how to say such and such in mummy and daddy's language which we are happily incorporating - although dh won't speak to the kids in arabic - that's a different post completely, anyway that's what I wanted to say - as for the english in the US statement - let's just leave that one behind!

ewe + dh = our little lambs + we and have many just : and : life .
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#11 of 11 Old 06-17-2008, 08:01 PM
 
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How frusterating! I totally agree with you though sweatpea. My husband speaks spanish and would like to teach our child spanish. I was worried at first about being "isolated" but I think it will actually help me learn alot more. As a child they use small words and sentances and that will help me to learn the basics! I understand alot right now but dont actually speak it, so starting with "baby steps" will help my lang. too! And will only be benificial to the child!

We know some relatives in biracial marraiges and the mom only speaks english to the baby and the dad only speaks spanish to her, and at 4 she understands and speaks both well.....
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