Father asking for advice about his bilingual daughter Nov 5, 2018 18:06:14 GMT 9
Post by Edward on Nov 5, 2018 18:06:14 GMT 9
First of all, I think it's wonderful there is a community online where we can talk with other parents about bilingual parenting. Lately I have been feeling concerned about the situation of my 29-month-old daughter. Let me first explain our situation.
I am from the Netherlands. I learnt two languages while growing up. These languages are English and Dutch. While Dutch is my native language, I am more fluent and comfortable speaking English. I also learnt Turkish after I moved to Turkey. I moved to Turkey because my wife is Turkish. She speaks Turkish as her native language and she speaks English at an advanced level (but not fluently yet). I moved to Turkey after we got married and we have a stable life here now. Our community is fully Turkish, though. Most people don't know English here.
After our daughter was born, we made a plan to make her bilingual. I (dad) would speak English to her and my wife would speak Turkish to her. This went fine for the first two years. She seemed to learn both languages at the same pace. Even when I (dad) was away from home for work, her English seemed to develop at a similar pace as her Turkish.
When she was 2, we stayed for 2 months at my wife's parents house. At this point it became obvious to my daughter that I know Turkish as well. I have to talk with my in-laws, I can't systematically ignore them in order to pretend I don't understand Turkish. Same problem outside. We went to swimming pools, beaches etc. The typical Turkish summer activities. We meet people there and of course we speak Turkish. I continued speaking English to my daughter during this summer. It was still good during this summer. She was speaking both languages equally.
After summer things changed. My daughter's Turkish made a big development leap compared with her English. She is actually speaking Turkish really well for a 29-month-old child. The problem is that she started to speak less English. She also started to speak to her dad (me) in Turkish.
Now at 29 months the situation is like this...when the in-laws are around my daughter speaks much less English to me (almost none). When my wife is around she is speaking some English, but not much. When she is alone with me she speaks roughly 60% Turkish and 40% English.
She understands Turkish and English really well. She follows instructions, understands our announcements, understands when we ask her things etc. She just prefers to reply in Turkish.
My question is...how should me and my wife continue? We are thinking that maybe my wife should speak English with our daughter as well. The disadvantage is that my wife's English isn't fluent. She holds conversations in English comfortably, but she makes mistakes occasionally. (Then again, we also make mistakes while speaking our native language.) Another disadvantage is that I (dad) am currently working long hours, so I don't spend that much time with her. Generally 3 hours of her waking time during the week, and the entire weekend.
How should we continue? I would like to hear your thoughts and ideas, so thanks for reading.
EDIT: I forgot to add: Me and my wife are speaking English to each other. My daughter is also doing a lot of code-switching right now. For example, the English word 'clean'. She has three ways of using this word: 'daddy is cleaning', 'baba temizlik yapiyor (Turkish)', or 'baba cleaniyor' (mix between English and Turkish). Other phrases that we hear a lot are things like 'We will weareceğim' (future tense in both English and Turkish), 'jumpuyorum', I'm de eating' etc. A lot of mixing is going on as well.