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#1 of 24 Old 05-30-2013, 06:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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HI!

I have an almost 4y.o and a 15 months old sons.

We live in Ontario, where kindergarten starts the year a child turns 4, so DS1 is supposed to start this year.

We didn't register him. we will wait until he is 6 (so 2 more years).

The reason is mainly that we think this kindergarten thing is a form of free daycare.

we don't need daycare, we need to be with our sons and they need the same.

we think it is waaaay to young to be ''having'' to do things. like waking up early, rushing etc in order to have a stranger deciding what they will ''teach'' you today and for how long.

I think it only teaches kids to forget about their inner need to learn.

 

all this, led as to think about unschooling for longer then just the next 2 years.

we are still hesitating. one of the reasons is that I adooored school as a child, and I can imagine that my son could like it too. but I started at 6y.o and not 4y.o.

 

the main reason that makes me think we will not unschool beyond the age of 6-7y.o, is the language.

when I was pregnant with DS1, unschooling (nor homeschooling) was something we have never heard about. so it was obvious to us that our kids will go to school.

I wasn't born in Canada and DH neither. My mother tongue is Russian and DH speaks Arabic (and I speak mainly french with DH, but we both speak russian and arabic as well). It is very important to us that our kids learn our languages.

DS1 speaks russian and arabic.

I have never spoken to him in English, I have never heard him speak it neither. same with french (but I think he understands a lot of it, since most of my friends are francophons)

 

so, I am thinking that if we unschool our kids, we will have to either start speaking the dominant community culture language: English (and that means that our kids will stop speaking russian and arabic). Or we unschool them and not change anything about the languages we are speaking.....but then our kids will be tooo isolated from the society they are living in, and a lot of the natural learning comes from it.

 

So I feel like unshooling is not an option for us.

 

what do you think?

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#2 of 24 Old 05-30-2013, 07:03 PM
 
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I don't know much about this issue specifically (I neither speak a second language well, nor does my husband, family or children and we speak the dominant language of our region) but I do know that homeschooling or unschooling does not need to be insulated.  You say most of your friends speak French, and that's a start.  Maybe with their help, you can locate some good English-speaking folks who would love for their families to play together with yours--and perhaps even expand their own language exposure beyond English or French.


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#3 of 24 Old 05-30-2013, 10:48 PM
 
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Does your son understand English right now?  You say you have never seen him speaking it.  What happens when he is out in the wider world and someone says something to him?  Do you live in Quebec?  If not, what about your neighborhood? Is it it predominantly populated by English speakers?  I am just trying to understand the context.  

 

As for my advice, do not switch to English in your household.  Keep at it the way it is and find another way to expose him to English, including homeschooling coops, consistent play with English speaking kids, classes he is interested in, TV shows you are comfortable with, etc.  It is a challenging situation though, good luck!  

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#4 of 24 Old 05-30-2013, 11:26 PM
 
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Could you have a compromise position? Keep speaking to him in your languages but maybe find someone, a teenager, to act as a mother's help (ie s/he would be in your house while you were there) to build a relationship and speak English with him? Really I guess you need to get him to a point where he knows English enough to speak it and then groups and so on of English speaking kids will do the rest. If you are not sure where to start I'd ask around the homeschooling network for a teenager wanting a job like this. And/or not school, but a part time playgroup? or after school club? (at around age 5, all mine became very keen to do stuff like this, where they gained a little independence).

 

Your kids have such a wonderful mix of languages and, I assume, cultures, going on there!


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#5 of 24 Old 05-31-2013, 07:20 AM
 
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 TV shows you are comfortable with, etc.  It is a challenging situation though, good luck!  

TV and videos... of course!

 

Yes, you don't mention if they have any understanding of English, but something visually engaging could be a good way to introduce English in casually.  Picture books in English as well as in your spoken languages are helpful, too.  There are many of those that are written in both languages in the same book.  


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#6 of 24 Old 05-31-2013, 11:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you all for your posts!

 

so the context: we live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. mainly English speaking. we go outside, to the park everyday. DS1 has ''friends'' that he plays with regularly. they speak English to him, and they manage to play together. So he might understand some. But when people ask him questions, he doesn't seem to understand (like a lady in the store etc).

 

I was raised in a different language then the dominant culture. I didn,t speak the dominant language until I went to school at 6. then, after only 1 month, I was fluent in the dominant language. however, my parents never, ever (even now) spoke the dominant language to me. and that was key.

we now a lot of immigrants here in Ottawa, they all wanted their kids to speak their languages, they spoke to them as babies. But then, with daycare, TV, school, kids rapidly stopped speaking their mother tongues and only used the dominant language, even at home. then, parents started to mix in English as well, because they felt their kids understood them better that way. and then you meet a lot of adults born in Canada, from parents of a  different origin, and they say: ''I used to speak Japanese (or Arabic, or Italian....)as a kid, but now, I only understand a little bit''.

we really want to avoid this happening to our kids. we did a lot of reading and there is my own experience, and what we are doing is to e very consistent at home. no English or French with the kids. ever.

It is very important for us that they speak our mother tongues. Not because I want them to know multiple languages ( we don't really care how many languages they end up speaking as adults). But we want to be able to transmit them their cultural identities, who they are, where they come from. They can not identify themselves and understand their origins without speaking their languages.

the other very important aspect, is that the world looks very different when you look at it from different cultures. and that broadens your mind. And we really think it is important to have as a kid and as an adult.

 

so, we have put a lot of steps to ''protect'' Russian and Araic in our home. No TV (just DVD, we don't have any cable or any kind of connection). DS1 watches Russian youtube videos once a day (when I put DS2 to sleep for a nap). Kids have never been to daycare. I work part time and DH as well and there is always one of us with the kids at home.

I know that if DS1 goes to school, he will speak perfect English in a matter of 1 or 2 months of full time school. that what happened to me and my sister.

and that is fine, because y then, DS1 will know that he can only speak Russian to me and Arabic to his dad.

 

now, if we decide to unschool beyond the age of 6 or 7, I m not sure how this is going to work.

 

I believe that kids can learn perfectly well by just watching, imitating and experimenting/exploring. the thing is that I don't read in Russian (I know how, ut I read mostly in French and English).

 

If I let the dominant language e in our home (through videos/books/mother helpers etc) there is a increased chance that kids will loose their russian/arabic.

If we keep our strict rules about no english or french at home, then kids would still learn english/french with friends outside, but it would take much longer, and they would be isolated from the society they live in for a part of their childhood.....which doesn't contribute to normal learning that happens with unschooling I think.

 

maybe I just need to wait and see. DS1 might be perfect fluent in English by the time he is 6y.o. and we could join some unschooling groups and he can take classes of whatever he enjoys.

Until now, we have tried soccer and swimming classes, and he gets bored because he deosn,t understand instructions. He is taking a Russian music class right now and he really loves it!

 

I think I need to meat people who unschool to see the practical part of it. I only know theory. I have no ody around me that homeschools or unschools.

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#7 of 24 Old 05-31-2013, 01:41 PM
 
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It sounds as though you probably know a lot more about second/third language aquisition than most of us on this thread so I'm saying this in that spirit really.

 

I can see how, as they get older, not speaking the majority language might be an issue for an unschooled kid. I also think that there might be situations where it would be difficult for you to be as a family and not using the majority language if you all spoke it. I'm thinking of stuff like community projects. To be accepted as equals, your kids would probably need to be speaking the same language as everyone else. This possibly would not be true for an adult but sadly, would be for a child. My honest feeling is that its probably perfectly possibly to unschool but that they will have a better experience as they get older if they are also fluent in English, largely in terms of having their own freedom to explore their world alone and form direct, mentor-style relationships. It simply would not be the same for my kids to always be interacting with the world through me as an intermediary. I'm speaking about slightly older kids-7 and 9 (not my 5 year old so much though she appreciates direct relationships too). That's where the issue would lie for me.

 

Like I say, I don't think its all or nothing. If my kids happened to need a particular language to be unschooled, personally I'd just get them a very nice, friendly, talented teacher and get them round to the house a few times a week. I don't think I'd see it as a big deal really-I'd expect a kid to really enjoy this-, but especially if it meant I could unschool. 

 

The only other thing, you mention he doesn't respond when asked a direct question in English? My children, English first language, at 4, quite possibly would not have done this either. The thing is, I'm wondering if a situation where he was spoken to in English would tend to be a more formal one, one where he was less comfortable whereas presumably the Russian music class is a more informal affair. Also, he may understand but not be happy to speak yet.

 

Like I say, I'd consider getting a third adult to be the "English speaking" adult. 

 

Just to say too. "Unschooling" to me is a concept, really, a process. We aim to unschool, or try to understand the world in unschooling terms. In my whole life, starting from a childhood knowing a lot of homeschoolers, I have literally not met a single person who was a perfect unschooler. Its something to aim for, but a lot of the time there are these questions, often of short term vs long term. 


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#8 of 24 Old 05-31-2013, 02:26 PM
 
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My honest feeling is that its probably perfectly possibly to unschool but that they will have a better experience as they get older if they are also fluent in English, largely in terms of having their own freedom to explore their world alone and form direct, mentor-style relationships. 

 

But (again, speaking as someone with no direct experience with this) don't you think that the necessity of having fluency in the dominant-culture language will be what ensures it is mastered? In an unschooled environment where children are not sheltered from community and culture by being in a school or a school-at-home situation could they really help but pick up the langauge? I know kids in my anglo corner of Canada who were raised with nothing but French at home and no institutional care prior to KG, and they were already pretty close to fluent by the time they started KG. That's because English was the language spoken at community events, gardening work bees, by the neighbours, by kids at the park, on the radio, at the post office, by the plumber who replaces the hot water tank when it starts leaking, etc. etc. etc. The point about the dominant-culture language is that it's dominant, and pretty much inevitable, if you get out and about in the community at all. How would an unschooled kid, at least one not living in the log cabin deep in the woods, reach the age of 8 or 9 without having had really significant contact with that dominant culture and its language?

 

Personally if I were the OP I would continue to put a lot of emphasis on Russian, Arabic and French, knowing that English acquisition will be well-nigh inevitable. 

 

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#9 of 24 Old 05-31-2013, 04:00 PM
 
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Hmm. Yes, what I'm really trying to say, in answer to the OP, is that I just do not know. I really don't. I'd love to believe they would be fluent in English by osmosis, but I don't have any experience of an equivalent situation. 

 

In Britain, I know kids do start school unable to speak any English, having been raised in families/cultures where English is not spoken even though there will be quite a lot of incidental exposure to English (media, just out and about, etc). And they quite quickly become fluent afaik-but my understanding really is that they have almost no English. I can think of families I've known who have US'd in France (which has very strict laws around HSing) for years, whose children have remained primarily English-monolingual. OTOH in my country, Wales, kids from Welsh speaking families would watch primarily Welsh language TV as young children, be spoken to mainly in Welsh, attend nursery or parent and todder in Welsh, be part of a Welsh speaking community, attend after school classes in Welsh and then go to school in Welsh. And those kids are usually, though not always, competent in English by 7 or so at the latest, often well before. 

 

The difference between those families, and the OPs family, and the reason I am saying I'm not sure, is that even in the most ardently Welsh speaking family, there would normally be a lot of English speaking friends of both the parents and the children, and also that, because Welsh media is fairly limited, a fair bit of English will come into any home that way. Going back to kids who start school in Britain not speaking English-my understanding is that this happens mainly where they don't see their parents or others speaking a lot of live, conversational, English or be put in situations where they have to produce it themselves-a testament to the strength of their communities. Now, apologies if I have this wrong but this seems to be something Lilitchka is possibly purposefully avoiding at this stage (in no way is that a criticism) or circumstances dictate or whatever. If that is the case then I guess I'm saying, I really do not know whether or when they will pick it up naturally because I can't think of an equivalent situation. But its a very interesting question.

 

Its not quite the same but my kids, 7 and 9 have a fair bit of exposure to Welsh, living in Wales (where every public service announcement, every official telephone greeting, every official notice and advert, every tannoy announcement, is bilingual), through band and an art class which are both primarily Welsh medium, discussion is in Welsh and most kids are Welsh speakers, through the media, hearing people talk, I sometimes need to speak Welsh with others when they are around, and they went to Welsh medium playgroup. They even came with me, when they was small, to conversational Welsh improvers groups.

 

And in all this they have literally picked up not one word. They don't even seem to know if something is in Welsh. It kind of stuns me actually. It means I really do understand why you are being so careful Lilitchka but it also means I can see how English might not seep in there. From the limited information I have its not even that they are terrible at languages-both are reasonably good at learning a few phrases to get along with another kid in the playground.

 

I agree I would not necessarily do anything different-I'd give the kids the benefit of these strong cultures and then worry about the English later, personally. I would have thought it would be there, in the background, and when they come to learn it it will be that much easier. I think if its easy for them to learn English now, then that will only be a bonus. But I also don't think its worth you speaking to them in English for-that's why I suggest, say, another person coming specifically to teach English.

 

Most of all though, Lilitchka, do bear in mind that your kids will have access to the other cultures and communities of the languages they speak and that these might have really wonderful opportunities for unschooling, volunteering, etc-or you might be able to create them easily. I really, really think that's worth an awful lot and its an opportunity that your family with have that another family, like mine, would not.

 

And I hope you do come back and share with us how it goes, because I'm very interested to know. It sounds like a wonderful set up for unschooling, homeschooling or whatever you might choose to do from here, but I know how easy it is to say that of another person's life :-)


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#10 of 24 Old 06-01-2013, 08:01 AM
 
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Coming back to read the last few posts, but wanted to say that many of those kids who lost their mother tongue-- were they unschooled or homeschooled? My guess is that they went to school and were immersed in English, with relatively little interaction with their parents compared to the overwhelming exposure to English.  You have a chance to do that differently.   I think those kids who lost their skills were simply overwhelmed, both by exposure and perhaps even peer pressure.

 

ETA: and I would avoid English-speaking swim lessons (etc.) until they have a reasonable understanding of English, or an instructor who is encouraging.


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#11 of 24 Old 06-01-2013, 08:33 AM
 
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ETA: and I would avoid English-speaking swim lessons (etc.) until they have a reasonable understanding of English, or an instructor who is encouraging.

 

Why? Aren't those the kind of activities where they would LEARN English? To me, avoiding the opportunities to learn the language until after you learn the language doesn't make sense.


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#12 of 24 Old 06-01-2013, 09:13 AM
 
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Normally I would agree with you, but the OP said this:

 

 

Quote:

Until now, we have tried soccer and swimming classes, and he gets bored because he deosn,t understand instructions. He is taking a Russian music class right now and he really loves it!

 

I think the right kind of instructor could avoid this, and I said that.  

 


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#13 of 24 Old 06-02-2013, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you for all your posts. sorry I didn't respond earlier, I worked all week-end.

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But (again, speaking as someone with no direct experience with this) don't you think that the necessity of having fluency in the dominant-culture language will be what ensures it is mastered? In an unschooled environment where children are not sheltered from community and culture by being in a school or a school-at-home situation could they really help but pick up the langauge? 

 

An it is happening: I heard, for the first time my DS1 speaking english today.....and he counted until 10 in the car while I was talking to DH!

it is happening way faster then I thaught, and I think that by the age of 6, he will be fluent, doesn,t matter what I do.

I guess that's the definition of the dominant language, it gets learned!

So i will probably cocentrate my efforts on russian and arabic preservation for the next 2 years, and we will see how it goes. 

 

I guess we have way more english in our lives then I realize.

I listen to english radio in the car half of the time, even when kids are with me. I order my drive-through coffee in english. I do my grocery always with my kids (they love it), the kids in the park/zoo/museum/farms/beaches speak english and we are in one of those places every day. 

our cleaning ladies that come weekly speak english. I have english speaking friends that I see with my kids (If I am not at work, my kids are always with me, so they live my life).

we have some renovations going on at home, and all the construction people speak english......

 

so I think i should really focus on preserving russian and arabic, and see how it goes (the english counting to 10 episode kind of freaked me out lol)

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#14 of 24 Old 06-06-2013, 06:11 PM
 
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Bonjour! J'habit proche de vous….

 

I think it is pretty rare for kids in Eastern Ontario not to learn English - even those in French school, with French parents at home.  English is the language most commonly used in sports, restaurants, stores, etc.  Your English is excellent.  You will clearly be a good resource as time goes on. 

 

I would cross the what to do in the future bridge in the future.  


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#15 of 24 Old 06-07-2013, 08:22 PM
 
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I think it is pretty rare for kids in Eastern Ontario not to learn English - even those in French school, with French parents at home.

 

When we lived in Hawkesbury Ontario a few years back, most Francophone teens were not fluent in English. The few we meet who were had parents to whom it was important, who insured that their children had the opportunities to become comfortable with speaking, reading, and writing in English (which meant they got stuck in situations where they weren't comfortable).

 

A lot of adults where we lived weren't bilingual. Most could get by in their second language, but they couldn't write it, preferred not to see health care providers who spoke it, etc. I came away from living there with a sense that to truly raise a child to be completely fluent in two languages is more difficult and requires more effort than I had previously believed.

 

Of course, we were truly EASTERN Ontario. Our backyard was the boundary with Quebec. I may be different in Ottawa/Hull, which is far more English.


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#16 of 24 Old 06-09-2013, 07:04 PM
 
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When we lived in Hawkesbury Ontario a few years back, most Francophone teens were not fluent in English. The few we meet who were had parents to whom it was important, who insured that their children had the opportunities to become comfortable with speaking, reading, and writing in English (which meant they got stuck in situations where they weren't comfortable).

 

A lot of adults where we lived weren't bilingual. Most could get by in their second language, but they couldn't write it, preferred not to see health care providers who spoke it, etc. I came away from living there with a sense that to truly raise a child to be completely fluent in two languages is more difficult and requires more effort than I had previously believed.

 

Of course, we were truly EASTERN Ontario. Our backyard was the boundary with Quebec. I may be different in Ottawa/Hull, which is far more English.

Hmmm….

 

I think it depends on what is meant by learn another language.

 

If the goal is 100% bilingualism, with the ability to read. speak and write at a high level, then yes, that requires a fair bit of effort.  Many people are functional in the other language without huge effort, and functional is pretty good (it is more than most people).  

 

My spoken French is decent, my ability to read in french is quite good, and my written is very poor.  I am a bit of an oddity, though. Many anglophone read and write French better than they speak it.  Some of this comes down to other factors  -  people who become fluent or even semi fluent speakers in French are willing to take risks, and are not perfectionists.  Perfectionism can be a real problem with regards to learning to speak French, as many are unwilling to try if they cannot be perfect.  Parents, IMHO, have to be very careful about how much correction to do with regards to language.  While I do not want this to become a "USing: to correct or not to correct" debate, I will say that I get a little ticked when my husband (whose French is perfect) corrects my French.  Even if he does so in private.  Language is supposed to be about communicating, so being "corrected" can be a bit of a turn-off.  Know and take your cues from your kid.  Some may be fine with correction, and some may not.  If they are not okay with it, you might need to problem solve on what to do about your desire for them to speak properly, while meeting their desire not to have their conversations turned into lessons.  

 

I once read somewhere that hearing the other language early on is crucial to having a decent accent - something about synapes and the brain.  It seems to have held true as far as I have seen.

 

Hawkesbury is a bit different than the communities in and around Ottawa - Ottawa is only about 13% French, while Hawkesbury has got to be 75% plus. It might make a difference in language acquisition skills.  I will also say that I did not learn a huge amount of French as a child growing up in and around Montreal - where a good 80% of the population was French!  I went to English school, had English freinds, my parents are English,  I watched English media…..I also felt that French was taught in a very dry (and occasionally stupid) way at school, and was being forced down my throat.  I rebelled and did not learn very much.  I got some basics down, but really started to learn French as an adult when I realised this could be lucrative (and indeed it has - I get jobs easier than others, and it is partly due to language abilities).

 

In any event, I do know a number of kids who are bilingual.  Generally one parents speaks to them in one language and the other in the other or they speak one language at home and go to school in another (not an immersion school - an actual French or English school).  It does not seem very difficult BUT the Op is trying to weave together 4 languages and that is a little out of my experience. 


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#17 of 24 Old 06-11-2013, 08:25 AM
 
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If the goal is 100% bilingualism, with the ability to read. speak and write at a high level, then yes, that requires a fair bit of effort.  Many people are functional in the other language without huge effort, and functional is pretty good (it is more than most people). 

 

I wasn't talking about 100% bilingualism, but functionality. My experience is that it is quite possible for someone to not learn the "dominant" language to a functional level if it doesn't play enough of a role in their actual life. That is my observation having lived in Eastern Ontario, which is more French than some parts of Montreal (like the West Island). This family is working at making English not accessible by doing things like not allowing TV in English, and avoiding English speaking activities.

 

The stats about what percentage of people in someone's city/province (or state) don't really matter. It is whether or not the language plays a significant enough role in someone's life for them to learn it. There are kids in the US that speak our second language (Spanish) and live in communities where Spanish is the main language spoken, who struggle to learn English.


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#18 of 24 Old 06-11-2013, 09:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

I wasn't talking about 100% bilingualism, but functionality. My experience is that it is quite possible for someone to not learn the "dominant" language to a functional level if it doesn't play enough of a role in their actual life. That is my observation having lived in Eastern Ontario, which is more French than some parts of Montreal (like the West Island). This family is working at making English not accessible by doing things like not allowing TV in English, and avoiding English speaking activities.

 

 

Bolding mine.  That is not great either, particularly if they intend to settle in the Ottawa area.  It really is best if you speak both English and French, and if (for Ottawa) it was only going to be one, for work purposes I would pick English.  Even if you do not intend to stay in Ottawa, Canada has far more English that French, period.

 

If I were the Op, I would move beyond Mothering for advice.  What does the research say about raising multi-language children?  She wants her children to learn 4 languages - and I wonder if this is realsitic or if she should prioritise?  


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#19 of 24 Old 06-20-2013, 11:56 AM
 
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"What does the research say about raising multi-language children?"

 

Yeah, I want to say that too really. None of us seem to have direct experience of raising kids even bilingually-am I wrong?

 

BUT the problem is that the OP is also an unschooler, and that kind of skews things a bit because the environment her children are exposed to is going to be very different to a child in school all day, with peers, speaking and using probably English. That's the situation I'm guessing that any expert will be familiar with and so they are going to be basing their answers on a lot more English exposure than seems to be happening, especially given that this family is actively limiting English. I think the kind of wildcard in here is the fact that English use is being actively limited, and honestly I don't know what the result would be, I wonder if anyone would. My experience is that in order to learn a language you have to use it, a lot, badly at first, you can't just be listening.

 

It does occur to me that if the OPs kids are speaking two languages already and hearing a third used primarily for interaction (did I get that right?), their linguistic skills will be good, and what they will also have is parents who are modelling the use of multiple languages. So I don't know.

 

Like I say, my experience is that its possible to expose a child to a lot of a language, spoken at an everyday, conversational, level, for it to be readily available all around them, but for them still not to learn it or even be able to recognise it. I'm aware that that happens reasonably often when homeschoolers move abroad too. I guess in part it might come down to how much exactly a particular child wants to communicate and how willing they are to take risks.

 

I do think its pretty interesting and presumably the worst case scenario is that the children have to learn English as a second language at an older age, which doesn't seem like the end of the world. I guess they just might have an accent.


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#20 of 24 Old 06-20-2013, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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sorry i didn't come back earlier.

thank you so much for all yur posts. i really like the unshooling mamas answers!

 

so for the language part, I have no doubt that my kids will learn English, even if we unschool. it will just take longer. 

just as kids learn faster to read qhen schooled, they will learn english faster if schooled.

in the long run, there is nothing I can do to ',prevent'' them from learning english. it will get learned, because it is the dominant language in our community.

so I wasn,t looking for advice on how to help them learn English, I know they will.

 

my question is: if they will be unschooled, there will be a long period of time that they will not be fluent in english (until 8 or 9 y.o maybe). so then, for the natural learning (of everything else, not the language) to happen (in unschooled setting), don,t they need to be fluent in the community language?

 

i don,t necessary want them to learn french. if they do, good. if not, that,s fine.

 

But learning 4 languages is not  big deal. I  speak 4 and dh as well. it is ''normal' for us.

if a person speaks at least one language, then she can learn as many as necessary in her environment. 

i use my 4 languages daily, that,s why I still know them. Not because I am smart or have some kind of talent for them. I just need them every day.

so if my kids need those languages everyday, they will speak them.

 

and I don't want them to speak arabic or russian for their future carrier or just so they are ''quadrilangual''. WE want them to speak them so they have a link with their origins. 

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#21 of 24 Old 06-21-2013, 01:01 AM
 
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"my question is: if they will be unschooled, there will be a long period of time that they will not be fluent in english (until 8 or 9 y.o maybe). so then, for the natural learning (of everything else, not the language) to happen (in unschooled setting), don,t they need to be fluent in the community language?"

 

I think honestly, you are the person here with the most experience of this. 

 

All I can say is, based on having kids who are nearly 8 and nearly 10 which is around the age you're looking at for English fluency, that in terms of navigating their community alone, that doesn't happen so much at this age. We are fairly active in our community but I'm always there with the kids. I'm pretty hands off, and they are good at persuading adults to show them things, but it coudl easily be that the adults your kids connect with are ones who share their languages anyway. My kids also do kid activities (scouts, band etc) - some not in English, by the way, which seems to work fine though they are pretty monolingual.

 

I think for a teenager navigating their community alone - which is what I'd expect my older kids to start doing- fluency in English would be helpful although at the same time, they'd learn it if they needed it IMO. For a preteen I'd say the absolute best strategy is to have an interesting life yourself with as many interesting people as possible and share that with your kids. From what you've written your life sounds extremely interesting and very rich, and you have access, because of the language and culture, to a lot of stuff that other unschoolers would love.

 

Classes wise, my kids do several classes and band where English tends not to be the primary language spoken and its fine. There is a difference because everyone speaks English so its possible to translate for my kids if need be, though at the same time its not generally rocket science to work out what they need to do! 

 

So in a nutshell, bearing in mind that you know more about this than any of us, if you think your kids will be fluent by around age 10, I wouldn't worry at all and instead I'd get on with giving them interesting experiences within your communities.


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#22 of 24 Old 06-21-2013, 05:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you fillyjonk,
that's very helpfull.
I have lots of examples of multilinguism around me, but no one who unschools or even homeschools.
I am really atracted to the unschooling way of living. I am convinced that learning is better hands on and learner-guided.
I jut had this idea that a lot of learning happens when we don't relize it. for example: we pay the groceries, my debit card doesn't work, here is some interaction with the seller, some troubleshooting, trying a different card, or seeing if the machine is the problem etc.
this simple interaction is a source of lerning for my 4 y.o. but to a lesser extent because he doesn't understand english.....or maybe he does, and I doen't know.
anyway, I wonder if most of the learning our kids get when unschooled is imply from being allowed to participate in our lives (doing groceries with me, rather then me doing them while they are at school learning in a textbook what are groceries)
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#23 of 24 Old 07-12-2013, 08:53 PM
 
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Our situation is different to yours, but we are a tri-lingual unschooling family in an area with a lot of families with a variety of languages.  My kids are now 4 and 7 and are fully operational for communicating in the three languages that we speak in our home, Catalan, Spanish and English.  Out in the world, we are surrounded by the first two.  DH and I speak to them in our mother tongues (Catalan and English) and speak Spanish to each other.  Our home has ALWAYS been full of media, books, etc. in all 3 languages.  I have worked really hard to make sure that the options available in English are interesting and fun as that is our minority language.  All my day to day interaction with my kids has always been in English, although I read aloud in whatever language is presented to me and we watch films in a variety of languages together.  We are friends with another homeschooling family with a similar language dynamic (father from here, mother from northern Europe) and their kids (10 and 12) have continued to develop along this path, speaking three languages fluently and choosing to study 2 more as foreign languages

 

There are a lot of families in my neighbourhood who have an English speaking parent and what I have observed with their (schooled from age 3 or earlier) kids is that they don't really use English, but I think it because the kids are spending 8-9 hours a day in a non English environment and the relationships there become of primary importance.  I think when a family is homeschooling, the amount of contact and the strength of the relationship with the parents seems to provide a solid base for the child to maintain their mother tongues.

 

We are friends with a monolingual German speaking unschooling family here and one thing I have noticed with their family is that it seems to be taking a looooong time for their kids to be able to operate in one of the dominant languages here. I don;t think this is becessarily bad, but it does make their kids more social isolated.  They have been coming to homeschool park days and activities for about 18 months now and it has taken a long time for their kids to begin to move in with the other kids.  One thing that seems to help is when we have another family around who is bilingual Spanish-German and those kids seem to act as a bridge for the German speaking kids.  I know the German family has a Spanish speaking mother's helper who comes in during the week to play with the kids and it is obvious that the German kids now at least understand Spanish well.  Also, intensive activities, like attending unschooling gatherings, could be interesting.  Another set of friends from here whose children had a basic understanding of English go annually to a week long HS gathering in England and the older kids (7 and 8) abilities with English tends to really explode when they are there and its an environment where they continue to have ready access to their family,  I think it's very comfortable for them.

 

In your situation, I would want to do something like this if possible, because it's hard for me to imagine doing outside activities comfortably without having basic communication skills.  I would NOT change the languages you speak to your son and in your house, but I would begin to bring in material in English as well while making sure that you keep building a fantastic collection of stuff in Russian and Arabic.

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#24 of 24 Old 07-13-2013, 04:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you for your post.

I guess we are like the German family except we speak 2 non community languages at home, and we tend to mix in French with DH (but never with the kids).

I think I will wait until DS1 is at last 5 y.o., when I am really happy with his level of Russian and Arabic, before introducing community language materials.

if we decide to unschool,then we can relax our strict minority language use at home, because,as you said, the risk of loosing the minority language when unschooling is almost non existent.

But if we decide to eventually send kids to school,then we will have to remain strict with our minority languages at home.

I feel like schooling DS for few months around age 7 will ensure he speaks perfectly the community language and the unschooling him after. This way we are not putting at risk the 2 minority languages by trying to teach it ourselves.....

I guess time will tell, DS1 is turning 4 in few days, we will see what happens in 1-2 years.
 

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