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!
Amy: And to all other fellow zookeepers of course!
Nov 4, 2018 18:13:28 GMT 9
Wojtek: Yesterday my daughter used a Polish word in an English sentence. From time to time she does it (don't know if I should be happy about that), but anyway what was amusing about that, she said it with an English accent!
Nov 5, 2018 18:23:45 GMT 9
Wojtek: I feel the English accent in our monolingual family has seemed to be something unreachable but in that mixed sentence, I heard the difference. It surprised me slightly.
Nov 5, 2018 18:23:55 GMT 9
Amy: So cute Wojtek! And such a lovely piece of news!
Nov 7, 2018 6:29:36 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice Wojtek! Give that little girl a big hug from Uncle Adam!
Nov 7, 2018 10:16:33 GMT 9