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.
Mayken: My 7-year-old, her ML dad and a ml family are going to the Christmas market at a ml school today - and I can't go with them! (Hope that ML dad's presence doesn't stop the kids from speaking ml together.)
Dec 2, 2017 22:12:04 GMT 9
Amy: I'm sure the language balance is heavily in favour of the ml. Don't you worry Mayken. And it's also good that your daughter sees that the ml exists beyond the Mummy sphere. It will give more weight to the ml to hear from another sphere.
Dec 2, 2017 22:51:42 GMT 9
Mayken: In the end, it was my daughter with ML dad and the other girl with ML mom (but who's fluent in ml). The other girl got tired of ml after a while but my girl chatted with people in ml and bought ml books and a snack, all in ml!
Dec 5, 2017 0:29:57 GMT 9
Amy: Not so bad after all then, Mayken
Dec 5, 2017 6:27:24 GMT 9
Mayken: Not bad at all, I just regret I wasn't there with them.
Dec 6, 2017 6:11:36 GMT 9
Amy: As the French have it Mayken: "ce n'est que partie remise!"
Dec 6, 2017 18:47:06 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter wrote her letter to Santa in the ml this weekend, and we'll send it to Santa's address in the ml country, that way she'll get an ml letter back from him! Last item on her wishlist reads "The second Harry Potter book, and more books."
Dec 11, 2017 23:59:38 GMT 9
Adam Beck: More books is always good!
Dec 12, 2017 8:15:58 GMT 9
Adam Beck: For Christmas: The Most Beautiful Video You Might Ever See About a Bilingual Familybuff.ly/2nI2yrE
Dec 12, 2017 8:16:04 GMT 9