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.
Mayken: My daughter's ml homework for this week included baking a cake - there's a cake in the story they read, and after each chapter there are questions and tasks, and the current chapter has the step-by-step recipe. She's to bring the cake to school too.
May 1, 2018 23:48:48 GMT 9
Amy: What a nice original homework! Makes such a change from standard homework, and I wouldn't be surprised if kids remember more from it! I like your bilingual school Mayken! Lucky little girl, and lucky Mummy!
May 2, 2018 0:00:43 GMT 9
Mayken: ml cake homework update: About half the class brought cake (8 out of 15), not all of them were the cake from the book recipe, but my daughter's was the most popular. (Maybe because we added food colouring and topped it with chocolate icing and smarties?)
May 4, 2018 5:58:10 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Cake is definitely my favorite kind of homework!
May 4, 2018 11:28:51 GMT 9
Jana: One of the best parts of having kids in bilingual school was getting Mother's Day cards in two languages! (With less-than-perfect spelling in both!) Ha!
May 15, 2018 9:16:08 GMT 9
Amy: (Twice) Lucky you Jana! So nice to read exciting pieces of news like yours!
May 16, 2018 5:46:25 GMT 9
Mayken: I still have that to look forward to, Jana! Mother's Day in our ML country is two weeks later, and the ml teacher goes along with that date. (It was last Sunday in our ml country.)
May 16, 2018 5:58:11 GMT 9