I'm Daniela, I'm Italian and I live in the south of Italy with my family.
My husband is American but bilingual because his parents are Italian emigrated to USA when they were children.
I have a degree in translation and interpreting (English and Spanish).
We have a wonderful boy, David. He is 15 months. We decided to speak only English with him because my parents and the rest of the community speak Italian.
My husband's sisters with their children live in Rome and his parents are 45 minutes by car, so we don't see them often.
Sometimes it's hard for me to stay consistent...especially when I'm angry or in a hurry, ehmmmm!!!
A few weeks ago David started kindergarten and the psychologist of the school told me to speak in Italian when we're at school, because she thinks that the baby could use English to create barrier with the others...I guess that the teachers feel cut out from the conversation, even though I always translate what I'm saying to David!
I'm happy to be part of this group, because sometimes I really need somebody to help me with all the doubts about bilingualism, and why not...a little support!
This is a good place to come with your questions and doubts. We've all been there, or still are, even though our individual situations vary. (For me, 45 minutes by car to visit family would be great. My family is 12 hours by car.)
I have a question about your situation at school: Do you stay there with David, or do you drop him off? Because if you just drop him off, I don't really see a reason why you should stop speaking English to him. If you stay longer, or all day, however, the situation would be different.
Daniela, welcome! It sounds like you and your family are off to a strong start on your bilingual journey! (I imagine it will eventually become trilingual, since you're proficient in Spanish, too.)
Since you and your husband are both using English with your son, the odds of success are very good. I don't know the details of the situation at the school, but you may want to discuss this with them to clearly convey your point of view. Because the basic conditions for bilingualism seem quite favorable, I don't expect this situation will be an obstacle, but it's true that you and your husband should strive to be as consistent as you realistically can about your use of English around David.
I send best wishes from Japan to Italy and look forward to hearing good news from you as time goes by!
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 was allowed to stay with him only for 1 hour the first three days (one month ago).
Now that he knows the teachers and his friends I simply drop him off in the morning, say goodbye, kiss him and go away (I speak English with him).
When I go back at 2:30 I ask the teachers how did the day go, and obviously while we're there together I say something to David (always in English). For example, I ask him if he ate or played...simple things, but when doing so I repeat the sentence in Italian so the teachers don't feel excluded.
Uff... I really don't know what to do.
I don't want to create problems with the teachers, but at the same time I don't think that the simple sentences I say to my son can bother them so much!
I can't see how speaking English to your son during that short a time could be harmful, but if the kindergarten people fear that it might, it could be a good idea to use the tactics that another "keeper" (I think it was Reina) uses when people comment about her speaking a foreign language in public with her children: She explains to them that she is speaking the minority language with her children so that they will be able to communicate with their grandparents, and might even ask them how they would feel if their grandchildren (this only works if the people she's talking to are grandparent-aged, for others, you'd have to adapt it accordingly) could not communicate with them.
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Wojtek: Adam, will you be watching in a few hours the football match between our national teams?
Jun 28, 2018 20:27:10 GMT 9
Mayken: Happy birthday to two bilingual monkeys: Adam Beck's daughter Lulu (14) and mine (8).🎂
Jun 29, 2018 23:10:16 GMT 9
Amy: Happy birthday to your 2 bilingual monkeys Mayken and Adam Beck !
Jun 30, 2018 5:15:05 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, that's true, but in our case, the U.S. didn't make it to the World Cup this time! Japan has gone through, but they'll probably get knocked out very soon...
Jun 30, 2018 7:22:16 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, Poland won! I was disappointed, though, to see Japan hold the ball at the end of the game because they only wanted to go through to the next round. I understand why they did that but I wish they had played harder...
Jun 30, 2018 7:24:42 GMT 9
Wojtek: Well, it suited both teams to slow down the ball. However, it was really unexpected and peculiar
Jul 1, 2018 1:16:27 GMT 9
Mayken: On the train from Cologne to my hometown, I saw a boy about 9/10 and his older sister. She was fluent in German but spoke French with a slight accent, he spoke only French. They were visiting their grandparents. I was intrigued but didn't ask.
Jul 1, 2018 22:06:55 GMT 9
Wojtek: Does anyone know an online English speech language therapist? I thought that it could be a good idea to get my girl evaluated in her ml...
Jul 6, 2018 4:02:38 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! My 8-year-old daughter passed her ml swim test today! After swimming & diving, the pool attendant asked her to recite the swimming/safety rules (our recent captive reading), and she knew them all!
Jul 6, 2018 21:28:23 GMT 9
Adam Beck: NEW! Bilingual Lives: Ana Cristina Gluck, Author and Publisher of Multilingual Books for Children (with a Book Giveaway!) buff.ly/2ziSQ4J
Jul 7, 2018 11:28:32 GMT 9
Agnese: First words. What to expect? My son is 10 months old. He's still babbling, but I've noticed some different sounds depending on the situation. I wonder if he'll start saying his first words in the next weeks (or months, who knows?). What should I expect?
Jul 11, 2018 0:30:24 GMT 9
Amy: Don't expect anything Agnese. Just let it happen, and then what he says will hit you like a train. It's an amazing moment. Just live it and don't overthink it. Whatever he says, in whatever language it is, it is a magical moment.
Jul 11, 2018 5:11:14 GMT 9
Agnese: I've recently found a further (annoying) challenge: when I speak ml (Italian) to my child (10m) in front of ML acquaintances, they are making jokes about what I said (mostly accent, similar unrelated words...). What do you think is the best way to act?
Jul 15, 2018 13:04:11 GMT 9
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