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 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.
Adam Beck: I have a new book coming out (more on this soon!) and, to celebrate, on Saturday afternoon we went bowling...and my 10-year-old son ended up *sobbing* because he was rolling gutter balls. (Note to self: No more celebrations that involve bowling balls.)
Feb 4, 2018 5:46:30 GMT 9
Marisa: Bowling is a scary experience, Adam! I was "traumatized" the first time I tried, and it took several years to give it a second try
Feb 5, 2018 1:38:07 GMT 9
Mayken: 7yo went to see a one-woman-play (fairy tale) with her ml class and 3 other ml classes (years above and below her) - a play with participation by the spectators. It was so nice to see those 50+ kids all chat and interact in our ml!
Feb 6, 2018 6:34:09 GMT 9
Amy: Just received your novel Adam, just in time for the weekend! I already read 3 chapters and am loving the style! Congrats!
Feb 10, 2018 6:25:05 GMT 9
Adam Beck: That's so nice to hear, Amy! I look forward to more impressions as you continue reading!
Feb 10, 2018 10:46:14 GMT 9
Mayken: After writing a letter in the ML to her new friend for whom it is the ml, my daughter is now on the phone with her friend from ml country. (And hiding in her room with my phone. No more phone cords to hold her back.)
Feb 11, 2018 23:13:29 GMT 9
Nellie: Book ordered Adam!
Feb 15, 2018 6:20:36 GMT 9
Nellie: Mayken - so cute! The terrible teens are approaching!
Feb 15, 2018 6:21:21 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nellie, thank you! I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your impressions!
Feb 15, 2018 6:34:04 GMT 9
Wojtek: I found sample Eiken tests on grade 5 and 4 (There was Adam's article) and did the first part with my daughter (20 questions). On Grade 5 she did 16 of 20 correctly and on grade 4: 12 of 20. Not so bad though. She failed those where grammar was included.
Feb 15, 2018 20:43:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, your daughter is still very young so I would say those are really positive results! Your efforts are clearly producing a lot of progress. Good for you, and good for your daughter!
Feb 16, 2018 7:52:23 GMT 9
Undraa: A big congrats from my end to you for your new book Adam!
Feb 16, 2018 16:50:56 GMT 9
Wojtek: Big thanks, Adam. Those tests on grade 5 are so basic but anyway they prove that my girl understands them and knows the answers. That was quite interesting experience.
Feb 16, 2018 16:54:32 GMT 9
Wojtek: Congratulations on your book, Adam! I read the beginning on Amazon and as always I have the impression you took several pages from the dictionary with a range of sophisticated words and just put them in. That's why the book will be very valuable for me.
Feb 16, 2018 17:01:19 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, thanks! Even if you're unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary, I think the lively story will carry you through the book. I hope you enjoy it, and also find it useful for your English!
Feb 16, 2018 18:43:12 GMT 9
Dani: Hi everyone, It has been a while... Congrats on your new book Adam! Would love to get a copy too.
Feb 17, 2018 8:30:36 GMT 9