I have 5.5yo twins. I am Polish, my husband is Australian, and we all live in Sydney. I always wanted to raise them speaking Polish but because my husband doesn't speak Polish I found it very hard. I do say a few things in Polish (like 'ready' , 'put your shoes on' etc). Whenever I try to just speak Polish they whine and don't make any effort to understand, even if I break it up in simple bits. Ultimately this effort to establish a routine fails and I am back to speaking English all the time. Any ideas how to start a sustainable routine with older kids that lasts? Thank you!!
I would suggest 2 core ideas: 1) Games and nursery rhymes in the ml – kids are playful and take great pleasure in learning through these means, and you will find that a lot of ml kindergartens do that. My daughter (4 – though I started earlier) picked up a huge amount through nursery rhymes (I got her her own CD player with her own nursery rhyme CDs). 2) Introduce your culture and language at home – it might be difficult to do it all the time when Daddy is around, but whenever you can and every time you are alone at home with your twins, listen to Polish radio online, Polish music, watch Polish channels (if you can get them online or telly), watch maybe Polish DVDS, organise Skype calls with Polish relatives. You give them the example to try and trigger their interest. Make them hear your language (and their heritage).
How do your twins communicate with their Polish grandparents and cousins? Could being able to communicate with them "easily" (through speaking the same language: Polish) be used as an incentive?
Hope this may point you in the right direction.
***"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Oscar Wilde***
Laffi, welcome! Because your children are now a bit older, the process of nurturing their minority language is more like second language learning for monolingual children. In my view, the best way forward would be to establish a daily "Polish Time"--maybe just 20 minutes, at first--where you read aloud to them, sing to them, play games with them, etc. and you do all this in the target language, as much as you realistically can, so both you and your children can begin to make Polish a part of your daily routine, day after day. (Amy makes some useful suggestions that could be incorporated in this time.)
The key to success, though, is to make this "Polish Time" as fun and playful as possible so the children will find the experience engaging, not offputting. This daily "Polish Time" can then serve as the cornerstone for expanding your efforts in other ways, too. But the initial breakthrough, where you're able to sustain this new routine over time, depends on their engagement, their receptiveness. And that can only be earned through enjoyment of the experience itself.
In terms of books, since Polish children's books would probably be above their level, and thus not very fun, I would strongly recommend that you use wordless picture books instead. There are many of these colorful books out there and you can simply tell the story in Polish using simple language that they can understand.
Laffi, I also suggest that you begin a new thread about your commitment and efforts at the Track Your Progress board. For a recent example--and one that shares similarities with your situation--see Alice's thread.
Finally, this popular guest post by Tatyana may offer some additional food for thought about potential strategies. But again, the key is creating engagement and a fresh attitude toward the target language so this should serve as your highest priority for now.
I look forward to following your thread at the Track Your Progress board! With persistence and patience (and a lot of playfulness), you can experience growing success over the months and years ahead!
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the book "Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability", praised worldwide by parents and experts in the field. Available at Amazon amzn.to/22XKuCt, the global Amazon sites, and other booksellers.
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Nellie: Adam - will watch the video as soon as I can (living circumstances not permitting right now - we are still in temp accommodation and I can't turn on volume) - looking forward to it!
Sept 22, 2017 5:56:44 GMT 9
Mayken: Skyping with grandma last night had to be cancelled due to technological problems - I needed to talk my mom through a Skype update and her phone battery died. :-(
Sept 25, 2017 20:45:42 GMT 9
Joanna: sorry Mayken...this is sad but funny as I'm sure many skype Grandparents have the same woes !(mine..) For us this weekend: potty training has led to great quality time reading and chatting, and some pretty hilarious ml questions
Sept 26, 2017 6:20:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken and Joanna, I can relate! My mother (Grandma) can't seem to get the sound on her computer working so when we Skype, we also have to use the telephone!
Sept 26, 2017 6:36:03 GMT 9
Mayken: Adam, and Joanna, it's good to know we're not alone in this!
Sept 27, 2017 2:46:28 GMT 9
Joanna: Planning a long Christmas minority language visit, so exciting!
Sept 30, 2017 14:46:01 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! Skype is working again on my mom's tablet, meaning we can skype with ml grandma again!
Oct 2, 2017 23:12:24 GMT 9
Mayken: The other day my mom (monolingual ml) called while my daughter and I were out, so Daddy (monolingual ML) answered. My mom was amazed to find out he isn't monolingual ML any more after all, and praised his active ml ability.
Oct 3, 2017 23:28:39 GMT 9
Joanna: For each day my daughter is exposed to other people speaking English (here in France) I put a little star on the calendar...trying to fill it up!
Oct 8, 2017 3:52:17 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice motivating idea, Joanna! And Mayken, thanks for sharing your good news on two fronts!
Oct 9, 2017 7:11:50 GMT 9
Marisa: My daughter won't say number one in Spanish or English, but in German! She loves recognizing the number and saying it out loud... it sounds more like the word 'ice' in English, though, but it's 'eins.' Number 9, however, is 'nueve'. So funny!
Oct 11, 2017 10:33:45 GMT 9
Mayken: My dad's giving Adam's book to his Lithuanian friend's daughter, whose husband is sceptical about their little girl learning German.
Oct 14, 2017 21:10:20 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, thank you for sharing my book! I hope it can be helpful to them!
Oct 16, 2017 15:57:32 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, another bilingual monkey is about to be born near me (one of my colleagues is giving birth tomorrow), so I also got her and her husband a copy of your book... this world needs more bilingual kids!
Oct 18, 2017 0:06:43 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Many thanks, Marisa! In my humble opinion, more bilingual kids = more empathy in the world = a more peaceful planet.
Oct 18, 2017 7:33:04 GMT 9