The 3 languages I would love for my children to acquire are:
1) English - majority language where we live
2) French - my kids will be attending French school, so I'm confident they will end up fluent
3) Cantonese - here's the tough one: my husband and I have good oral comprehension but fairly rudimentary speaking skills. I feel like I've missed the boat on this one a little. I've only recently started to speak to my girls (ages 4, 2) in 90% Cantonese since I myself am becoming reacquainted with the language after MANY years of not speaking. My husband speaks to them purely in English, so I will be the main language input source for now (once a week input from grandparents, and Saturday morning Cantonese classes in the near future). However, my own current level is lower elementary, and reading is not a main language input source since I am illiterate in Cantonese. At this stage, I'm happy the girls understand my Cantonese speech, but as my own language improves, I wonder if and how their passive language will ever be converted to spoken language.
Posts: 826 Country (residing now): France Country (originally from): France Children, Ages: 6 and 2 year old girls Majority Language: French Minority Language(s): Spanish (ml1) & English (ml2) Member is Online
Welcome to our community! I'm a Mum to 2 trilingual little girls too. There is no late start, especially given your daughters' ages (science says that before 12 language acquisition is easier; beyond this age it becomes as difficult as it is for adults), plus you are very lucky to have external ml sources (grandparents, Saturday classes)!
You're not the only parent in that situation of having an elementary ml level. Shangzhu and Marie are in similar situations too and they're doing well.
The kids' switch from passive to active is a recurring issue for bilingual parents, generally triggered by the child's feeling of need to communicate in the ml. We struggled with that one too. Maybe read up on the topic now that you have just introduced Cantonese, to see if you are happy with your strategy or feel like you might want to adjust it. I certainly wish I had read up more on it before starting this bilingual journey. (And needless to say Adam's book is a good read to start with... )
***"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Oscar Wilde***
At this stage, I'm happy the girls understand my Cantonese speech, but as my own language improves, I wonder if and how their passive language will ever be converted to spoken language.
Debbie, welcome! Yes, activating passive language ability can be a large challenge, but since your children are still small, you have many more years to cultivate their Cantonese through your daily efforts as well as the regular support of others. As long as you stay patient and persistent with this process--and, as they get older, seek out further opportunities for them to engage in "monolingual" experiences of this language with other speakers, you'll surely generate a lot of satisfying progress. And whatever level of ability your children finally reach by the end of childhood, they'll then be in a good place to advance that ability on their own. To get there will require firm and resourceful perseverance (to improve your own Cantonese, too, at the same time), but it sounds to me like you have the determination to do very well, despite the natural doubts and frustrations that will arise as the journey continues.
Keep going, Debbie! You can do it! And we're here to help!
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.
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Wojtek: Adam, will you be watching in a few hours the football match between our national teams?
Jun 28, 2018 20:27:10 GMT 9
Mayken: Happy birthday to two bilingual monkeys: Adam Beck's daughter Lulu (14) and mine (8).🎂
Jun 29, 2018 23:10:16 GMT 9
Amy: Happy birthday to your 2 bilingual monkeys Mayken and Adam Beck !
Jun 30, 2018 5:15:05 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, that's true, but in our case, the U.S. didn't make it to the World Cup this time! Japan has gone through, but they'll probably get knocked out very soon...
Jun 30, 2018 7:22:16 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, Poland won! I was disappointed, though, to see Japan hold the ball at the end of the game because they only wanted to go through to the next round. I understand why they did that but I wish they had played harder...
Jun 30, 2018 7:24:42 GMT 9
Wojtek: Well, it suited both teams to slow down the ball. However, it was really unexpected and peculiar
Jul 1, 2018 1:16:27 GMT 9
Mayken: On the train from Cologne to my hometown, I saw a boy about 9/10 and his older sister. She was fluent in German but spoke French with a slight accent, he spoke only French. They were visiting their grandparents. I was intrigued but didn't ask.
Jul 1, 2018 22:06:55 GMT 9
Wojtek: Does anyone know an online English speech language therapist? I thought that it could be a good idea to get my girl evaluated in her ml...
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Mayken: Yay! My 8-year-old daughter passed her ml swim test today! After swimming & diving, the pool attendant asked her to recite the swimming/safety rules (our recent captive reading), and she knew them all!
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Adam Beck: NEW! Bilingual Lives: Ana Cristina Gluck, Author and Publisher of Multilingual Books for Children (with a Book Giveaway!) buff.ly/2ziSQ4J
Jul 7, 2018 11:28:32 GMT 9
Agnese: First words. What to expect? My son is 10 months old. He's still babbling, but I've noticed some different sounds depending on the situation. I wonder if he'll start saying his first words in the next weeks (or months, who knows?). What should I expect?
Jul 11, 2018 0:30:24 GMT 9
Amy: Don't expect anything Agnese. Just let it happen, and then what he says will hit you like a train. It's an amazing moment. Just live it and don't overthink it. Whatever he says, in whatever language it is, it is a magical moment.
Jul 11, 2018 5:11:14 GMT 9
Agnese: I've recently found a further (annoying) challenge: when I speak ml (Italian) to my child (10m) in front of ML acquaintances, they are making jokes about what I said (mostly accent, similar unrelated words...). What do you think is the best way to act?
Jul 15, 2018 13:04:11 GMT 9
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