My concern is that I don't know whether my baby should be exposed to the minority language (English) in a sort of "structured" way or it is not necessary. I explain what I mean .
As he is one-year-old, he is just learning his mother tougue (Hungarian). Besides that, I sing songs and tell rhymes to him in English and I try to connect those with some movements, activities just like some of you mentioned in your posts. But sometimes I feel like talking to him in English during our daily activities (narrating what I am doing, telling him what we can see around us, etc.) and I catch myself switching between the two languages randomly. (Maybe because I get tired after a while in the minority language - which is a minority language for me as well...or I just simply lack the vocabulary to explain something). I tend to believe that the more I speak in English to him is the better, but I'm not sure that this switching back and forth btw English and Hungarian is ok or not.
Obviously, in a "real" bilingual family where the parents teach their mother tougues, it works more smoothly because the kids usually hear one language from one parent and the other language from the other parent, but I think it is time for me to get over this "handicap" of ours.
Anyway, my question is do you know any study or do you have any experience in teaching two languages for a baby in a setup like ours (non-native parents passing on the minority language to their baby along with their mother tougue)? Would you separate the usage of the two languages in some way? Also, I guess I should expect some delay in my son's speaking skills if I talk to him in two languages from the first time, right?
I am also non-native, teaching my son Spanish. In our house, we have done One Parent One Language consistently since he was 6 months old. Everything I have read does recommend some structure so that the children know what to expect and can slowly start to distinguish the languages by the "rules" for which is used when. What this looks like in every family is probably different. I think having a structure also helps the parents to maintain consistency in what they are doing and ensures that the children get at least some consistent exposure to the minority language.
One case study you might enjoy is a book called "Bilingual Children: From Birth to Teens" by George Saunders. He is an Australian who learned German as an adult and successfully raised his three children bilingual.
This is anecdotal too, but as regards your last question: no, I don't think delays are inevitable. My son starting speaking right around 13 months and at 18 months he had over 100 words in his primary language and 30 words in his minority language and he had started combining words, which was right on track or slightly advanced. I have read that bilinguals experience the same range of language on-set as monolinguals.
I'd love to hear from the other non-native bilingual families out there. What kind of structure is working for you?
Post by Annamari (MommyPlaysEnglish) on Aug 1, 2014 5:50:42 GMT 9
Anita, I did the same with my kids (hello from Hungary , and at the beginning I tried to separate the two languages as much as possible (with longer time periods), now it's not so possible as they are at school and kindergarten, so we can't spend so much time together, but we still use both languages. You can separate the two languages in different ways. Do you know my Hungarian blog and my book? I shared (and still share) a lot of experiences there. Let me know if I can be of any more help.
"Language is the only thing that's still worth knowing badly." (Kato Lomb)
Post by Ally Kennedy de Garcia on Aug 2, 2014 13:37:55 GMT 9
I would like to teach my child Czech and I am not a Czech speaker. I found some great Czech for kids resources and basically I was thinking we could learn it together. I am the minority language speaker so I want to be committed to that but I'd love to create a base at least in Czech. Anyway I'm following this thread to see other people's advice.
Post by Annamari (MommyPlaysEnglish) on Aug 3, 2014 1:45:24 GMT 9
Just do it, Ally, I've heard about parents doing it successfully. (I started to learn Spanish with my kids besides raising them bilingually (English-Hungarian) as a non-native speaker. Baby steps, but in the long run at least the basics.
"Language is the only thing that's still worth knowing badly." (Kato Lomb)
I try to only speak Japanese with my sons, even though I'm not fluent. It's really hard sometimes, because I don't always have the necessary vocabulary to say what I want to say, so there are definitely times when I have to switch to English. Plus, the kids don't have any Japanese friends. But we do have a Japanese TV channel and lots of Japanese books, so that helps. I think we're all doing a great thing, even though it's hard!
I am trilingual although Italian is my mother tongue. My daughter's minority language is English so I do fit in the picture.
Replying to Annamari, referring to many cases I have seen and talking of me as a child, I don't believe language delay is a myth, especially in terms of number of vocabulary. Obviously this is just my experience and it may have to do with the amount of exposure...or maybe I was just a bit slow . But in any case I believe that the important thing is the progress you make and eventually to get there.
If you are a non-native speaker I believe that sometimes you run the risk of losing a bit of spontaneity with the child, and as he grows also your language skill must improve and grow as well as the child will get more demanding.
This obviously is only my point of view according to my own experience.
Anita, I think you should go ahead with your project...we are all in the same boat...and I agree with Kelly when she says it's hard.
It is hard, sometimes even frustrating and depressing...but at the same time so rewarding!!!
I can't speak as one with much experience yet, but here is how our family is trying to make it work:
We try to carve out regular times to speak the minority language exclusively, and we try to get 25 hours per week. For example, every day between 10am and 12pm I speak Spanish to my baby. Every night we both try to speak Spanish for the last hour that baby is awake, including bedtime routine (pajamas, a book, a lullaby). We are hoping that by structuring specific times of the day to the minority language, she will 1) distinguish between the 2 separate languages because we speak them at specific times, and 2) make connections between similar activities in the two languages (meal times, story/book times, etc.)
We also have started attending church in Spanish on Sundays to increase exposure to native speakers and make friends who speak the minority language. We are hoping that making friends who speak Spanish will make the language more relevant as she gets older, although many of the families at church speak Spanglish .
That said, I often find myself slipping into English during the designated Spanish times. Part of it is forgetfulness, and part is lack of some vocabulary. My husband and I are working on growing our Spanish vocabulary by watching movies, reading books, and listening to music in Spanish ourselves. It's a work in progress.
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