Post by Laura Catherine on Sept 2, 2018 21:38:11 GMT 9
Hola! My daughter is 18 months and I speak to her exclusively in Spanish. We don't belong to a Spanish-speaking community, but I am a Spanish teacher. Before she was born, my husband was going to be her English input, but he really got into learning Spanish and now speaks around 80% of the time to her in Spanish. I'm really proud of his entusiasmo and support! My daughter says six words total and they're in Spanish (which makes me so proud!). I don't want to dial back any of her Spanish from either of us because I want to give her this opportunity of rich input before the English world takes over in her life.
People are starting to ask us how she will learn English. My husband and I know that even though Spanish is the ML for now, English will be the ML for the rest of her life once she starts school (can't afford our city's dual-immersion school, but she'll go to the Concordia Language Villages for summer camp every year). We're just not concerned about her picking up English, but so many other people seem to be that I wonder if we maybe should be more concerned. In my mind, if she goes to preschool knowing colors, numbers, etc. in Spanish, while there might be a period of confusion, she'll eventually learn them in English (same with other things). I'm hoping she'll learn phrases to interact with other kids as she plays with them these next few years and when she starts school. Or will she just be confused and isolated?
I know [email protected] is a strategy people employ, which is essentially what we're doing. I'm wondering if we're being too lax on getting her English, though. Any support or ideas would be appreciated!
It will get better once your daughter starts speaking in English and these people will realise your child really is bilingual. Though you will then start worrying about your daughter losing her minority language (ml) under the influence of the Majority Language (ML) at school!
To avoid any confusion when schooling time comes, have you thought of paving the way by having your daughter looked after by a ML-speaking babysitter on a regular basis, or spending more time with their ML-speaking grandparents?
By the way, does your daughter understand when ML-speakers such as her grandparents speak to her? If so, that could be an argument to fend off well-intended people "worrying" that your daughter might not speak the ML.
Monolinguals often cannot fathom the idea that a baby can handle more than one language because the adults can't do it themselves. We have a friend who has always been a bit mocking at our choice of trilingual education. One day he came over for dinner and his jaw literally fell when he heard for the first time my eldest speak fluently in ml to me. (Karma can taste so sweet when it finally comes round. )
The bilingual journey is full of nay-sayers and well-intended persons. Just smile and walk past. Follow your journey.
Laura Catherine, I would agree completely with Amy's helpful advice. I know it's uncomfortable when people pose such questions, but the fact is, even if you did nothing at all to support the development of her English side, she will still acquire fluent English in preschool, as many children of non-English-speaking immigrants have done throughout U.S. history (including some of my own ancestors).
So the issue, then, isn't "How will she learn English?"--because, of course, she will--but "How can you help ease her transition into the English environment of schooling without undercutting your own productive efforts to nurture her language development in Spanish?"
As Amy suggests, I would strongly second the idea of seeking out other speakers of English to spend regular time with your daughter. (But you needn't overdo it--an hour or two a week, and maybe more when preschool is approaching--would be enough to get her going. Your aim, after all, is to "ease her transition to schooling," not "achieve fluency prior to schooling," which could compete with your early and beneficial head start in Spanish.) See this post at Bilingual Monkeys for further ideas...
Once you've put in place this English support, not only will it be helpful for your daughter's transition to preschool, but it will likely make it easier for you to respond to others' "concerns" about your daughter learning English because you can then explain that she'll acquire English just fine from these other speakers and from school.
Let us know how it goes, Laura Catherine!
Adam Beck is the author of the popular nonfiction books "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability" and "I WANT TO BE BILINGUAL!" (illustrated by Pavel Goldaev) as well as the award-winning humorous novel "How I Lost My Ear" (illustrated by Simon Farrow).
I just wanted to let you know that this was almost exactly my daughter’s language scenario at 18 months. I am a non-native ml speaker living in the US but I was home with her and only spoke Spanish (our ml). When my ML mom would babysit, I would leave her a list of words and their translation so she could understand my daughter.
My daughter is now 7 years old and speaks both languages beautifully. Her ML is probably stronger, although she speaks ml very easily. At age 3 her ML exploded. She learned from friends, cousins, grandparents, neighbors, etc. Just wanted to encourage you from someone who’s been there before.
I was in a similar situation years ago with my daughter, except that my husband also spoke 100% in the ml, so there was no ML input at home, other than when both parents talked to each other.
Each child is different. Some pick up both languages at the same time -like my son-, some others speak the environment language and ignore the ml, and some -like my daughter- ignore the environment and decide to speak only in the ml. This happened until the age of 3, when she realized she needed the ML to play with other children, so she started using it. Children are very practical.
My daughter is now 5 and her ML isn't as good as her classmates', but her ml isn't as good as that of a monolingual ml child either. She's spending 50% of her time in each language, while monolinguals spend 100% of their time in just one language. But she's only 5. When I look at the bigger picture, I realize she'll speak perfectly in the ML before long. Monolinguals may master their one language earlier than her, but she's catching up and will get there eventually. So if we have to wait a little longer for an extra language, so be it. I'm now counting hours in the ml to make sure she still gets enough ml exposure. I'm not worried about the ML: it's everywhere!!
Marisa: "Victory moment:" My almost 4-year-old daughter told me yesterday in the ml (rough translation): "mom, there's something wrong with the cartoons, can you fix it, please?"... she was accidentally watching TV in the ML! So I gladly obliged
Jan 18, 2020 4:15:02 GMT 9
Amy: Awww bless her, Marisa!!! That was so cute!! <3
Jan 18, 2020 5:25:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Marisa, give that little minority language lover a big hug from me!
Jan 18, 2020 8:04:49 GMT 9
Mayken: We're at Harry Potter Book Night at the English bookshop in Paris. The activities are all in French but my daughter teamed up for the treasure hunt with a girl who also speaks ouf ml German!
Feb 8, 2020 3:50:49 GMT 9
Amy: Was stunned to hear eldest had an anglophone (ml) accent when she began to read in the ML this afternoon!! Didn't last more than a paragraph until her brain switched language, but chuffed mum here!!
Mar 7, 2020 23:05:49 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter found the secret stash of ml books I'd bought at the closure sale of the ml book store two months ago and hidden away for later. Guess it's a good time for new books now, right?
Mar 18, 2020 5:29:38 GMT 9
Caro C.: My baby (16mo) perfectly knows what "hi5" means and readily shows her hand even when we are not showing our hand first. It feels like the first minor blossom of the bilingual seed.
Jun 1, 2020 13:05:36 GMT 9