Unschooling when English is not spoken at home - Mothering Forums
Unschooling > Unschooling when English is not spoken at home
margarettim's Avatar margarettim 02:07 PM 07-21-2011

We are seriously considering homeschooling our DD (17 months - I know, it is still early). There is however one thing we are not sure about. We moved to Canada recently. Both me and my DH are fluent in English, but it is not our first language and we don't speak it at home. Our English is accented and there are occasional mispronunciations, errors.  All the playgroups and social interactions outside home are in English, so there is a lot of exposure to it. I would love to hear from other parents in a situation similar to ours who home-schooled. Did it work well? Were there any major problems?

We are thinking of sending DD to a school for a year or two, just because of the language and than to carry on at home. I really want to hear your thoughts and experiences.

midnightwriter's Avatar midnightwriter 02:24 PM 07-21-2011

DH and I mostly speak Russian home. We both speak English (and after so many years in Canada, Russian lol.gif) with an accent, and we both consider ourselves fluent in English. Occassionaly we switch to English at home, but it is only maybe 10% of our interactions.


We also made sure we read in our language to our children, more than in English, especially when they were little. DD9 wasn't interested in having friends until she was 5 years old, and until that age her English was very rudimentary. Now at 9, she speaks English really well, and her Russian is fluent. She reads fluently in both languages.


DS6.5 became very social at the age of 3.5. His English is very good, but his Russian is already is not as strong as DD's.


DD3.5 started speaking in English when she was 2--just simple sentences, but she was definitely aware of the two languages. She is exceptionally verbal in Russian, and from time to time will speak in English to her English speaking playmates.


From my experience, it is very difficult to maintain your first language at home, even without sending a child to shcool. From everything I've seen, the moment a child enters an English speaking school, they stop speaking their first language at home. I've met parents who say that speaking English at home is not an option, and they force their kids to speak their language. Not sure how well this will end.


The "fight" so to speak, is for your first language. English will be acquired no matter what, with no effort on your part. That's at least, our experience. 


Good luck!




JuniperBCN's Avatar JuniperBCN 03:52 PM 07-24-2011

We're a trilingual homeschooling family and my mother tongue is English which is not one of the languages around us.  We live in an area with a lot of multilingual families and midnight writer's observation about the fight being to maintain the mother tongue is so true.... I think keeping my kids home has done wonders for their English in comparison to other families I know with a similar language dynamic to ours.


The possibility for input in your local languages is virtually endless.  If you're at all concerned, make sure you spend time out in the world and interacting with people as well as lettiing English into your home.  While we generally follow the one person-one language idea, we both read aloud in whatever language books are written in and we talk to our friends in the language they best understand, which sometimes means that I am directing myself to my kids in a language other than English.  I started out putting our DVDs into English whenever the option exists (in your case I would opt for your home languages whenever possible) and now the kids do it by choice, but at the same time I see no problem with them watching stuff in their other languages as well.  Media has been a great way for us to get a variety of accents, vocab and dialogue into our lives.

amma!'s Avatar amma! 09:55 AM 07-26-2011

I was so concerned that dd learn our native language that I only spoke it with dd even though having grown up in the US I am now more fluent in English than in our native language.  Dh has a strong accent, but mine is hardly there anymore.  She spoke Telugu beautifully till she was 4, though she had started picking up English from age 3.5, but by age 5 she was not so comfortable with our native language.  In spite of all of our efforts!  Partly it had to do with vastly greater availability of children's books in English, so if I were to do it again I would have tried harder to keep children's books in our native language around, even if I had to write them myself !!   At least now it is much easier to type in Telugu - had that been around a few years ago when dd started exploring the computer, it would have helped tremendously!



Originally Posted by midnightwriter View Post


The "fight" so to speak, is for your first language. English will be acquired no matter what, with no effort on your part. That's at least, our experience.

same experience here.

All the best!