My name is Chari and I'm the mother of two lovely girls, Elena (almost 6 years old) and Lucia (3 years old).
My mother tongue is Spanish and that's the reason that I didn't think about trying to raise them as bilingual children.
But when Elena was almost 4 years old I began to try that every cartoon that she saw was in English. And soon I noticed that she was able to understand almost everything. Then Lucia, who was at that time trying to speak, began to say everything in English. So we thought that I would try to speak to Lucia and Elena in English and my husband in Spanish (one parent, one language). Now, I find it more or less easy to speak in English to Lucia but it's hard to do this with Elena because I have been speaking in Spanish too long. Besides, my level of English is not the best so...
From last summer we are supporting this with an English-speaking au pair. And it's working very well.
Now Elena can speak very well in English and even English natives are very surprised with her.
Elena is very intelligent. She's a gifted girl. So she began to read in English by herself. And now I'm trying to develop her writing skills. She's beginning to learn some German but she really wants to learn other languages like Chinese (she is focused on that goal) and Japanese. Maybe next year.
Lucia seems to be bilingual although her development of the language is not so fast as Elena. She finds it easier to speak in English than in Spanish.
I'm trying Jolly Phonics method to teach her how to read but it's difficult because I don't have enough time to do that. But she told me that she wants to read. And now she's reading some words.
Chari, welcome! It sounds like you're making strong progress by combining your efforts with the support of an English-speaking au pair. Good for you! And good for your kids!
And it's great that Elena is already showing such keen interest in other languages. As long as you can maintain sufficient exposure and need for English, gradually introducing her, and Lucia, to other languages can benefit them by strengthening their overall language-learning ability and their awareness of the world.
Stay persistent, and stay playful, and the odds of both your daughters becoming bilingual, even multilingual, are high. I look forward to hearing how your journey together continues to unfold. (For ideas and inspiration related to reading, you might browse my blog posts in the reading category.)
Incidentally, my children began learning Spanish a few months ago and their Spanish teacher is from Spain! (I'm not sure which city.) She now lives in Hiroshima, with her Japanese husband. She's very sweet and my kids love her!
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the popular non-fiction book Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability amzn.to/22XKuCt and the humorous novel How I Lost My Ear amzn.to/2EsjVRS, both available worldwide.
I'm very impressed at your success as a non-native, and jealous of your ability to have a ml speaking au pair. I don't know Jolly Phonics, but I've heard Bob Books can be very good...check that method out. Did you use an agency to find your au pair?
Welcome! My ml is English, too, and I live in France and will have a baby in March. Maybe we can meet one day, and hopefully you can link up with other English-speaking families in your area.
English speaking Canadian Mom, French speaking Dad, happily transitioning to minority language at home (English) with our baby daughter in France.
I have girls almost the same age. 5 and a half and 2 and a half. My oldest is learning Spanish which nobody at home knows how to speak. She seems to like languages just like yours. She says she'll learn another one after Spanish just so she can know more languages than mama.
For learning to read with little parental supervision, I'd recommend Reading Eggs if you have a computer. It's pricey, because it's a subscription service, but it's a game-based way to learn to read. My nephew learned entirely on his own from it.
I'm going to check everything that you have suggested to me.
Joanna, I find my au pairs in a web that connects families and au pairs. For us, it's a great experience to have an au pair in our home not only because of the language but because it's a cultural exchange as well. And I think my girls have now more reasons and incentives for speaking other languages.
Oh, the Jolly Phonics package is great! I used it during my teaching days in Singapore and I still keep a copy of the CD. Nowadays, I play the CD for my baby every now and then because the songs are so short and catchy. Sometimes, I sing the songs to him too. I suggest playing the CD in your car or something since you're too busy to teach her to read. Every little effort helps!
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Amy: Agnese, it is simply because they never had the opportunity to be acquainted so closely to that language. Just smile and keep going. Over time (even if this may seem long), the comments will fade. Don't show your son you are embarrassed by your ml.
Jul 16, 2018 3:56:41 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Agnese, I strongly second Amy's advice! Stay strong and continue speaking Italian!
Jul 18, 2018 6:22:37 GMT 9
Adam Beck: And Agnese, keep in mind that, above all, the highest priority is your bilingual aim, not the other passing concerns that are part of this experience (for us all). Don't let these distract you from the greater goal.
Jul 18, 2018 6:24:49 GMT 9
Agnese: Thank you! After this setback I feel stronger than ever! The same day of the incident I ordered plenty of books in the ml on Amazon and I'm reading every day new research on bilingualism and bilingual education. I'm ready to defend my goal! Thanks
Jul 19, 2018 18:37:58 GMT 9
Agnese: Thank you for the suggestion!
Jul 21, 2018 15:40:43 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter met some inversed ML/ml kids today who live in our ml country. Their parents probably weren't thrilled they found n ML (for them) friend in their ml country. I'm sorry...a little bit.
Aug 7, 2018 2:07:34 GMT 9
Amy: Looks like the 3 weeks in ml1 country paid off: my ML mother reports my youngest would only speak ml1 to her! Lol Not sure ML childminder will be so happy when she returns... loool!
Aug 25, 2018 0:38:50 GMT 9
Mayken: Sounds like fun times ahead, Amy! Keep us posted.
Aug 27, 2018 23:15:08 GMT 9
Adam Beck: NEW! Something Strange Happened 2 Days After We Moved into Our New House (And Its Significance to Change and Transformation on the Bilingual Journey)buff.ly/2ww8WDD
Aug 31, 2018 10:30:39 GMT 9
Amy: Happiest bilingual mum in the world : the new lady who conducts activities in ml2 with my eldest just assessed her level as pretty much equivalent to that of a native ml2 child! After that awful back-to-school start, this is like music to my ears.
Sept 6, 2018 0:00:13 GMT 9
Wojtek: I've been thinking for a long time to write an update and hopefully, I will do it one day. My brother married a Russian woman. That was nice to see that my 5-year-old daughter could play with her and speak English together!
Sept 7, 2018 21:37:25 GMT 9
Wojtek: After some time, she ran up and told me: "She is speaking English!"
Sept 7, 2018 21:38:31 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice to hear your happy news, Wojtek! And congratulations to your brother and his bride! It sounds like they may have a bilingual child in their future, too! Cheers to you all!
Sept 7, 2018 21:58:17 GMT 9