I am ecstatic to find this site after reading Adam's book on raising multilingual children. Our monkey was born in May so we really are at the starting point of the bilingual journey, and I'm trying to absorb as much as I can before we hit the ground running.
Concerns going forward:
① Finding a bilingual community for my monkey
Understanding that this varies by where you live, I'm wondering the best way to go about finding a bilingual community. I have lived my life here avoiding the expat community, and I know many bilinguals just live their lives without necessarily seeking others out. So are their any tips?
② Exposure time
I will be going back to work just before our monkey's first birthday, so exposure to the minority language will be drastically cut before they ever reach preschool age, and in fact before they start talking. I'm worried if this will negatively impact them by introducing a heavily majority language environment too early (not much I can do about it though).
③ How to handle the mispronounced minority language words within the majority language This might be specific to Japanese, but it takes a lot of English words and pronounces them in a Japanese way (Think pronouncing Paris as PAR-ISSS instead of PAR-EE as it is in French). In this situation, do you teach them as separate words? I'm concerned about them getting mixed up.
I really look forward to connecting with you all! And Adam, thank you for all you do!
Welcome Kayla and congratulations on the arrival of your little monkey!
I'm one of those who lived abroad for years avoiding the expat community until the monkey arrived. In our case, we're in a big city (Paris) with quite some expats in our minority language (ml), German. I don't remember how i first found the "bilingual café" association (now defunct) that led us to find the bilingual school my monkey now attends (and where we have all these other ml families to connect with), but I guess Facebook could be a good starting point, there are many groups for bilingual families. Also this forum, I know there are a few other zookeepers living in Japan (not only Adam) who might be able to point you in the right direction.
As for exposure time, give your monkey as much as you can for as long as you can. When you go back to work, where will your monkey go? A nursery/preschool that is exclusively in the majority language (ML)? Would there be preschools with an English component? Could you hire an English-speaking nanny/childminder/babysitter for a few hours per week as a relief from all-ML preschool, for example? Arrange for ml playdates? (Even if your monkey doesn't talk, just you chatting in ml with other ml parents or you and the other ml parents doing activities with the kids will aid exposure.)
As for mispronounced ml words in the ML, I can't really pronounce (pun not intended) myself on that, as I have no experience with that problem.
For now, just give your monkey lots of love and lots of exposure! And keep us posted on your progress and how the situation evolves!
1) I was in the same boat as you when my little one was born. I've always naturally stayed away from the expat community. I honestly don't even remember how I first found the group. I think I just met someone who mentioned something that got me on an email list of ml events in the area. But that was a decade ago, and luckily technology has come a long way since then. An easy way is to find a facebook group of "<nationality> in <city/region/country>". Even if you just do something like "Americans in Japan" which I imagine is not super helpful with local resources, if you ask they might recommend ways to connect with local expats. For example in my group for Russian speaking ladies in San Francisco we frequently answer questions of how to find a similar community in another American city. It's going to be like pulling on a thread, it will seem insignificant, but one connection will lead to another and then another, until you realize that you are the one who is giving advice on how to find resources in your area.
2) I returned to work at 12 weeks with the oldest and sent her to ML daycare. Learning ml was hard for her but not insurmountable. Just make sure to spend quality time with your monkey when you two are together. However, if while looking at resources in English you find an English speaking daycare, that may provide the exposure you need. Otherwise just look for other ways to increase exposure, like having vacations in English speaking country or with English speaking people. My yearly vacation with my parents always created a giant language leap in my children. However don't be too hard on yourself. The situation does not have to be perfect from day one. Just try your best and look for opportunities to increase exposure as they present themselves.
3) Russian has the same thing of heavy use of English words. It's even worse for me because they entered the language after I left, and I'm never sure if it's just immigrants mixing or a legitimate addition to the Russian language. I've always treated them as completely different words. I pronounce them the Russianized way when speaking Russian and the normal way when speaking English. The children have almost never been confused. The rare exceptions are when the meaning actually changed as it entered the Russian language. They still make mistakes with those, but sometimes they self-correct, which shows me that they know the proper usage and will eventually be able to get it 100% right.
Kayla, welcome! Congratulations to you and your partner on the arrival of your first child! I know having a new baby makes for busy days, but try to savor each one as best you can. Believe me, before you know it, your little one will be a big teen, like my two kids!
I'm not sure if you're in the city of Kyoto (I love Kyoto!) or outside of it somewhere, but I suspect there are plenty of international families in the area. You might try contacting Kyoto International School for some leads. In my case, our interactions with such families were only a small part of my children's exposure and engagement in English, but connecting to a community like this, or individual families, can obviously be very positive and productive.
Whether or not community plays a large part in our journey, the basic engine for generating progress is language exposure: the more exposure to English that you yourself can provide, or arrange for others to provide, the more progress you'll likely experience. So I encourage you to be as proactive and resourceful as you can, particularly during these early formative years, so that there's ample exposure to English and Japanese doesn't come to dominate the child's days too quickly.
Kayla, I hope you find this forum, and my book, helpful to your bilingual aim. (If you wouldn't mind adding a review of my book at Amazon/Goodreads, I'd be really grateful. )
Adam Beck, the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, is the author of "Bilingual Success Stories Around the World"; "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability"; "I WANT TO BE BILINGUAL!"; "28 Bilingual English-Spanish Fairy Tales & Fables"; and the award-winning humorous novel "How I Lost My Ear".
Caro C.: My daughter, 2yo was rocking her bunny while trying to sing her own way. This was something completely new so I made a video... just s couple of seconds had passed when she clearly says a whole spontaneous sentence in the mL: "this is the music". #EpicWin
Mar 11, 2021 14:08:31 GMT 9
Caro C.: It is just now, many hours later that I came to savour the moment since I had a pretty busy/moved day... so excited about this, something small but meaningful 😍😁
Mar 11, 2021 14:11:43 GMT 9
Mayken: That's so cool, Caro!
Mar 12, 2021 3:37:58 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Good for you and your daughter, Caro!
Mar 15, 2021 10:59:32 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Instagram Live Interview with Adam Beck Watch the replay at this link: www.instagram.com/p/CNlqDXSH49Y/ Note: The video freezes in the middle, but then unfreezes shortly after that.
Apr 13, 2021 22:08:44 GMT 9
Sara: I haven’t been here in ages. So many different aspects of this community were a great help for me in the beginning of my multiple languages journey. Both professionally and personally. Thank you!
Jun 28, 2021 12:21:34 GMT 9
Adam Beck: You're very welcome, Sara! Your warm feedback is really gratifying to hear! Thanks right back to you!
Jul 2, 2021 15:34:26 GMT 9
Adam Beck: NEW! We had a virtual book launch for Bilingual Success Stories Around the World with many of the parents whose stories are featured in the book, including members of The Bilingual Zoo! Watch the video! youtu.be/hGpHpvfqEjo
Oct 2, 2021 13:04:03 GMT 9