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.
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 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: Two playdates with classmates from my 7-year-olds ml class this weekend, and the kids and parents all spoke ml the entire time! ml interaction with other kids is precious during summer holidays. Very happy
Jul 26, 2017 0:04:20 GMT 9
Mayken: Holidays! Just the 3 of us, in ML country this year, but I'm planning for a lot of ml time, without any family to visit and friends to meet (our program when we're in ml country).
Jul 29, 2017 5:02:56 GMT 9
Amy: Caught my eldest bragging to her cousin she could speak ml2 and asked him in ml2 if they could continue playing in this language....could it be my daughter is slowly accepting the fact she's bilingual and happy to be so...??
Jul 31, 2017 5:07:41 GMT 9
Mayken: Not all fun after all - we were at a castle today with an amazing 3h treasure hunt, but it was all in ML. My daughter did lots of ML reading (clues), but no chance of slipping ml in.
Aug 1, 2017 4:13:44 GMT 9
Mayken: Welcome back, Adam! We kept the zoo running while you were away and even swept up the monkey droppings!
Aug 2, 2017 18:26:12 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Well done, Mayken! Many thanks! (I was afraid I would be overwhelmed by the monkey droppings.)
Aug 3, 2017 6:18:08 GMT 9
Amy: My turn to disappear for a few weeks! Off to ml1 country with very high expectations as to the benefits of ml1 family bonding and ml1 exposure for my 2 girls! Have a lovely month of August everybody ! xxx
Aug 6, 2017 4:58:35 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Amy, have a really fun and fruitful time!
Aug 6, 2017 6:30:06 GMT 9
Nellie: Welcome back Adam and have a great time Amy!
Aug 9, 2017 5:37:45 GMT 9
Ahmet: Hey Adam! Thank you very much for writing such a nice book. I've read it , took lots and lots of notes. It's full of precious information about raising a bilingual kid. It helped me a lot and still keeps me on my way. goo.gl/photos/oPyfKffApeWPB9eU
Aug 11, 2017 7:34:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Ahmet, I loved seeing this photo of my book! Thanks so much! Would you mind if I shared it? And I'd be really grateful if you would leave a review at Amazon or elsewhere online.
Aug 11, 2017 8:54:39 GMT 9
Ahmet: Hi Adam, of course you may share the photo. By the way I already left a review at Goodreads and Amazon and I will continue to share info about your book.
Aug 13, 2017 17:34:53 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Ahmet, thanks a lot for your support!
Aug 13, 2017 18:14:01 GMT 9