I’m Sachiko. I live in Sendai, Japan with my Australian husband, 9 year old daughter and 6 year old son.
Before our kids started going to school here, we focused on them speaking English at home as we expected their Japanese will pick up as they go into the Japanese school system. Our presumption was right, they immediately picked up Japanese and of course now their minority language English is suffering. They are so busy with their school work and sports, we barely have any time to sit down and work with them on things like reading and especially writing during weekdays. I’m guessing we’re aren’t the only ones facing this issue, does anyone have any ideas/stories to share on how they deal with such a problem?
Anyway, looking forward to hearing everyone’s stories on this forum!
Sachiko, welcome! Greetings from Hiroshima to Sendai!
Of course, I can completely empathize with your situation because my family has gone through the same experience. (My kids are now 16 and 13.) The transition to elementary school is challenging, yes, but it sounds like your children already have a good foundation in English, because of your proactive efforts when they were younger, and you can continue to build on this foundation through the years ahead. In your case, because both you and your husband have English ability, I would encourage you to make English as much a part of your family's home life as possible. In particular, it's vital to continue reading aloud to them in English every day (I've long read to my own kids at breakfast before they head off to school) and engaging them in literacy activities on a regular basis, like through a homework routine and "captive reading."
For all the specifics on these, and much more, please visit the Take a Challenge board, which has a wealth of ideas that could help strengthen your minority language routines and activities.
I hope this initial response is helpful!
Adam Beck, the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, is the author of "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability"; "Bilingual Success Stories Around the World"; "I WANT TO BE BILINGUAL!"; "28 Bilingual English-Spanish Fairy Tales & Fables"; the fun-filled wordless picture book "Bearded Dragon, Home Alone"; and the award-winning humorous novel "How I Lost My Ear".
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