A difficult post to explain, but I'll do my best! I hope you can weigh in.
Edit to add: I am certainly not considering putting a halt to bringing my daughter up bilingually, but rather trying to decide if it's worth my time to run these workshops in our village.
Background: English-speaking Canadian, raising 2 year old in France with French-speaking father (but he speaks English to daughter, as do I of course). Member of English-speaking club which we attend once a month. In majority language care 2.5 days a week (small village, little other English input than mum, dad and skype).
Since January 2017 I have been leading monthly English workshops for 0-6 year olds (2 sessions, takes the whole morning). My main motivation is to give my daughter more exposure through songs, books, games in a group setting. However the others in attendance are all non-natives and she will quickly surpass them.
These workshops are draining as I'm not trained in this...but if it will help my daughter I want to continue next year. As I see the dates from September to June, however, it feels daunting, and I'm not sure if my energy is better spent on other activities with natives, even if we have to commute to them.
At first I told myself, if a minority language community doesn't exist, you can create it in your village. These workshops have been very well attended, but my daughter doesn't smile during them...and at the last one she brought her shoes to me so she could leave during it.
Does anyone have an input? I am torn as to whether to continue with this or not...
English speaking Canadian Mom, French speaking Dad, happily transitioning to minority language at home (English) with our baby daughter in France.
Keep up with it. Your daughter is two. She does not understand it now, but will thank you later. I wish I could help my kids learn a second language. But I only speak English, and my husband did not want to teach the kids his native language. I had the opportunity to send them to French bilingual school, and we are getting a French au pair, but oh how I wish I had the opportunity to teach them as well! You have an advantage. If you speak English, your daughter WILL pick it up. Keep it up. Make sure you do plenty of reading in English at bedtime, speak to her all the time, as you are walking, driving etc. Point things out. Describe what you are doing as you do the activity etc. The more you speak, the more she will learn. Only allow her to watch English cartoons, when you let her watch shows. There are plenty of videos on YouTube. I always say, where there is a will, there is a way. I do not even speak French, but I made sure to speak the basic words and phrases I learned to help my daughter. I bought flash cards online to review with her and when we went through those, I started making my own. I found French nannies to help support and make sure she gets the correct pronunciation. I got her into the French after school clubs and eventually French school. I put in A LOT of effort. So anyone who can speak two languages, to me it seems so incredibly easy! I know it's not easy and it will always take extra effort. But keep people like me in mind, who only really speak one language, but are trying their hardest to ensure their kids grow up bilingual. Your children will thank you later.
I feel very sorry to read your post. But it is only one of the many downs to the bilingual journey. You will hit highs for sure. Don't get too disheartened.
It is difficult to advise you on whether to keep that workshop going or not. I guess the best answer is what your heart feels. Try to list the benefits your daughter got so far from these workshops. If there are absolutely none, then yes, maybe you should move on to more beneficial one-to-one activities with your daughter. But don't be mistaken: kids often prefer to pick up things from someone else than from their parents...so you will be in for some more frustrations.
Personally, I found that the 2-3 year old age range was horrid. They are in that "no" phase, trying to develop their personality sometimes by contradicting. So don't get too disheartened with your bilingual journey at that stage: the age range is a difficult one and only adds to the frustrations you might feel.
Lots of cheers from the City of Lights!
***"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Oscar Wilde***
Joanna, from a larger perspective, your workshops are bound to end at some point, whether sooner or later. Everything has a season, and I don't know if the season of these workshops has come to an end or not--it seems there are a variety of variables to weigh--but I certainly don't think that concluding this effort would somehow "harm" your progress moving forward. As you indicated, it could potentially free up your time and energy to seek out other opportunities for input and interaction.
I applaud your proactive efforts up to this point, and I expect you'll continue in this same spirit, whether the workshops remain a part of your journey a while longer or not.
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.
It is difficult to advise you on whether to keep that workshop going or not. I guess the best answer is what your heart feels.
Word! Amy is right; it's hard to advise you on this matter: we can't see what these workshops are like, or ask your daughter how she feels about them. But even if we could, we aren't her mom and you know her better than anyone.
If you can make a better use of your time than these workshops, go for it!! If your daughter really dislikes them (not just one day, but in general), then I wouldn't push them on her. But if there isn't a better alternative and you think your daughter may enjoy them with time, why not keep at it for a while and see how they go?
The good thing about these workshops -the way I see it- is that they show your daughter that English isn't just this weird thing my parents speak, but something bigger spoken by other people too.
Running workshops like this can be draining even if you're trained in it so I sympathise! If you feel your daughter benefits from it I would persevere but simplify things as much as possible. If she acts like she's not happy with it I wouldn't worry too much as it's very normal toddler behaviour. Focus instead on what she is gaining and if she is then it might be worth continuing. What I've noticed when chatting to people who run similar things is that they feel the need to put in massive amounts of effort in preparation and that is very draining and daunting when you look at the whole year.
Apologies if you've already done this but if you have a simple programme in place then it could make your life easier. Start each workshop with a hello song and a simple routine of chat which suits the group you have best. It could be that you do a hello song and then count how many children are there and then say hello to each other and shake hands with each other e.g. each child could shake hands with their parent and the adults and possibly children on either side. There are other ideas out there for routines to start a nursery session. Then follow your game, song, book routine. I would have standard games and action songs which the children respond well to and repeat them often. Hopefully you've already got those as you've been running the workshops for a while. Choose those which require no preparation or much explanation to make your life easy. Then the variation comes with the books you read. You can read a story just for fun but you can also use it to introduce a theme and have another song and/or game as a follow up to that. So a book with weather in it could have a weather song (e.g. incy wincy spider) then a weather game e.g. you say "its raining" and everyone jumps in imaginary puddles or you say "it's windy" and everyone flies pretend kites. Then finish with a goodbye routine which could be just a song or anything you find that works. The part of your workshops which has variation could be changed each week but it doesn't have to be. Children learn so much more with repetition so repeating the same story and activities the following week or even two weeks is probably really worthwhile. If you have e.g. two/three books on weather then you could do a different one each week but I'd argue that it's more to stop you and other adults being bored with the same story and children love hearing the same story again. Or you could do a different theme each week for a period e.g. 6 weeks and then repeat the 6-week programme again. Choose your themes from simple topics e.g. colours, numbers, weather, pets, body parts, feelings. If children respond really well to a game, repeat it even if it doesn't fit the theme you're doing. You could extend it or adapt it e.g. for the weather game introduce more types of weather or add in something like splash your feet in the puddles, splash your hands in the puddles to use it for body parts. There are lots of ideas for themes out there and you could even follow a programme from a nursery website if it suits you. Hopefully if you're putting less effort in it will be easier to feel like it's worth it.
Again, apologies if you've already got a routine that works for you.
I understand you fully. I run a ml playgroup with two other mothers for 7 kids in total and it has been causing me ups and downs as well. It is very draining to manage the kids, the parents, preparation and commute, takes a lot of time and effort for just a couple of hours a week. I would also be considering to stop if I felt that my kids are not happy with it. Have you tried spending the same time just one on one with your daughter doing ml activities? If you want to keep the workshop feel then you could find an office room or something close to your home and do the workshop fun activity alone with your daughter.
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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
Agnese: Thank you for the suggestion!
Jul 21, 2018 15:40:43 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter met some inversed ML/ml kids today who live in our ml country. Their parents probably weren't thrilled they found n ML (for them) friend in their ml country. I'm sorry...a little bit.
Aug 7, 2018 2:07:34 GMT 9
Amy: Looks like the 3 weeks in ml1 country paid off: my ML mother reports my youngest would only speak ml1 to her! Lol Not sure ML childminder will be so happy when she returns... loool!
Aug 25, 2018 0:38:50 GMT 9
Mayken: Sounds like fun times ahead, Amy! Keep us posted.
Aug 27, 2018 23:15:08 GMT 9
Adam Beck: NEW! Something Strange Happened 2 Days After We Moved into Our New House (And Its Significance to Change and Transformation on the Bilingual Journey)buff.ly/2ww8WDD
Aug 31, 2018 10:30:39 GMT 9
Amy: Happiest bilingual mum in the world : the new lady who conducts activities in ml2 with my eldest just assessed her level as pretty much equivalent to that of a native ml2 child! After that awful back-to-school start, this is like music to my ears.
Sept 6, 2018 0:00:13 GMT 9
Wojtek: I've been thinking for a long time to write an update and hopefully, I will do it one day. My brother married a Russian woman. That was nice to see that my 5-year-old daughter could play with her and speak English together!
Sept 7, 2018 21:37:25 GMT 9
Wojtek: After some time, she ran up and told me: "She is speaking English!"
Sept 7, 2018 21:38:31 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice to hear your happy news, Wojtek! And congratulations to your brother and his bride! It sounds like they may have a bilingual child in their future, too! Cheers to you all!
Sept 7, 2018 21:58:17 GMT 9