Just out of curiosity, have you all estimated how much it has cost on average per year to create/sustain bilingualism for your kids? Not counting things you would have done anyway (i.e. if you were going to hire an au-pair anyway, but chose a ml one, that wouldn't count), how much have you spent on resources, classes, special trips you wouldn't have normally taken, etc.?
Hmm, this should be interesting...as some people can end up spending loads, while some not so much! I guess, it depends how much you are able to contribute yourself. For example, if I spoke French fluently, I would be spending a lot less, mostly on books and DVDs because my kids would have learned from me mainly. Because I do not speak French and neither does my husband, but we want our kids to be bilingual, we have to pay for other resources. We chose French, because our community has a lot of French. We have paid or will pay roughly the following, as my son will start school this September and my daughter attends. Bear in mind, our school fees are not so bad, compared to the US, where in D.C., it would cost 35k a year per child!!!!
8k per year per child (we have two kids) flash cards, books and DVDs (I am not sure about this, but I probably spent a few hundred) nanny during the school year (at least 80-120 a week) au pair during summer (80 + food a week) trip to France (150) French summer camp for a week: 250 French after school clubs: a few hundred
I am sure people who are able to provide exposure themselves will not pay as much. I have no choice, as I do not speak another language. I know, we are lucky we are able to spend this for the kids. I only wish I had started earlier! When my children were babies, we used part-time nannies, but they spoke English. I wish I thought a bit more about this and chose French speakers from the beginning. But at least, my kids are learning now.
Anyone else want to add? And perhaps any tips on ways to save?
My obvious tips are:
You tube for free cartoons in French Library if you have access Book trading with a friend (my English books for her French)
I think the answer is very dependent on what exposure you yourself can provide, but also what you are able to spend. I can see myself spending a lot in the coming years, but I have friends with older children who just don't have the funds to spend any extra and have nonetheless managed to bring up totally bilingual children, because their circumstances facilitated it. For instance, a friend who is a single mother's son speaks only in ml to her, because they spend so much time alone together! I on the other hand have a handicap because I am bilingual myself, and my daughter knows this, so I have to make an extra effort to get her to speak ml2 as the 'need' is just not there with me.
So personally I have to admit that I've spent quite a lot and probably will continue to do so. My perspective is that in my case, the choices I've made in that regard are not only for the language aspects, but also the overall quality of the educational experience.
For example, to date, so far my biggest expense has been a ml1 nanny, part-time. A ML nanny or just all-day crèche (if I could have gotten a place) would have been about half the price, but not only would the ML have been even more dominant, but I also think that the type of nanny I would have been able to hire would have been, in the end, less stimulating for my daughter. So it was a sort of win-win in that sense.
I considered enrolling my daughter in group ml2 classes on the weekend last year but decided not to at this stage due to the cost (it seemed like an awful lot of money for a one-hour class per week) and because I figured that that was time I could spend with her and thus provide her with the input directly.
Starting from September, my costs will escalate significantly however, because my daughter will start at a fee-paying bilingual school. Language played a big role in this decision, even though for practical reasons we may have had to go down that route anyway (we have just moved countries and don't have an apartment yet, so enrolment at a public school was going to be an extra stress without having an address!). Once she turns 5, my employer will pay for most of the fees, which means that this is really a temporary expense - I'm very lucky in that regard.
In addition, I am planning on hiring a language nanny to take care of my daughter once a week - again, I would have had to hire a nanny anyway, but the one I am choosing will be more expensive than a regular one would have been.
Other costs are: magazine subscriptions, books (so far these have only been a slight added expense in comparison to everything else - it's possible to get them cheaply) and travel (but that is non-negotiable as it's to see family).
I'm expecting that these costs will grow as my daughter gets older, but for me it is definitely worth it. However, it is certainly possible to reduce them substantially or find ways around them! My aim has been to try to substitute ML experiences for ml ones - for instance, I haven't found it yet, but I would love to find a ml swimming instructor for my daughter. If she takes up a musical instrument when she's older, same thing. I figure this would "kill two birds with one stone"!
Thank you Marie and Nellie for sharing! You both seem very resourceful and committed to creating bilingualism for your kids. As an aside, here's a resource tip if you don't already know it: if you already subscribe to Netflix, a lot of kids shows have French (and other languages) audio options!
Very interesting about Netflix! I was wondering about this because I noticed an audio option, but the shows I selected didn't seem to have French. I will check again. I always thought that would be such a good idea if we could access the shows in different languages even if you were not in France or Spain. Thanks for the tip and I will try again. Would save me from buying DVDs!
My situation is very different from other parents because my ml language is very small. So I do not have the option of special schools, classes or an au pair.
The largest expense I have for my bilingual kids is the annual travel to ml country. Then again if we decided to take the vacation elsewhere (within Europe for example) the cost would have been the same or even more because of the living cost anyway.
The books, the DVDs etc in ml actually cost 10 times less than the ones in ML and because of the scarceness of my ml resources I end up spending less than I thought I would.
As a result of bilingualism though, I am more mindful of the time I am spending with my kids. If it wasn't for bilingualism I would end up working during the hours or being on my device or something. For example, I decided to take a music course together with my son. This is not only to develop my son's musical ability at an early stage but also to take the mommy and son alone time doing something fun. The course is in ML but I will be speaking ml to him the whole time during rehearsals and so on. The actual cost is 30 bucks a month and mommy taking off work an hour earlier.
I couldn't put a number on it. I'm book-crazy, so I'd have bought a lot of books even if there weren't the issue of bilingualism, but I'd probably spend less on CDs and audio books. Trips to ml country, and holidays in ml country, are a bit pricier than in our ML country. And though we'd probably have put our girl into a private school too (she's in a private school with a bilingual program), I have no idea how fees in other bilingual schools rate as compared to the one she's attending.
I'd love to hear about it too. Everyone seems to have it and talk about it but I'm not sure to understand all that it entails (especially for us bilingual parents).
As to my own expenses:
Resources - As to how expensive it can get, personally I've set myself a monthly resources budget of €50. - We have also subscribed to ml1 TV channel options with our broadband provider. That's an extra €5 a month.
Classes - We're looking into weekly 90min ml workshops at home with a teacher which would come round to €40/class (€20/class after tax reduction). - There are ml schooling options but the only financially viable one for us (€800/year for a 3hour Wednesday school) has turned our application down (very competitive).
Trips - We travel twice a year to ml1 country. And this year for the first time, my husband sent our eldest for the Easter vacation. So the travelling expenses will definitely expand over time (count roughly €250 per person for a return ticket).
***"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Oscar Wilde***
So for context, ml is my native language and while it's not my dominant language anymore I'm still considered fluent and I'm a sahm so not as dependent on outside resources as others but my husband isn't conversational in ml and despite living in what is likely the most diverse city in the world, our immediate community/neighborhood is less so, thus I value the resources despite the added expense. Also worth noting, I only have one kid thus far and she's two years old.
preschool 2 mornings a week in ml language 7K a year. If I weren't so concerned about her having a community of multi-age children that speak our ml I would've probably kept her home longer so I'm chalking the expense up to the cost of bilingualism.
quality ml books are hard to come by and I've paid a pretty penny for some limited editions. I'd estimate the expense in total at at least $300 - and prob would be higher if I didn't live across from a library!
We've also paid around $350 for a music class in ml.
Travel to ml-speaking countries and to see family that only speaks ml would've happened regardless so not including it.
Thus far, it's definitely been more of an emotional investment than a financial one but my kid is only 2 and I'm sure that is going to change as she gets older and once she ages out of her immersion program and starts going to school in English, we'll likely invest in tutors or some form of after school care.
Edited to add: forgot to note expenses for ml2. Although I am conversational, I'm not fluent and we know NO ONE else who signs as a language as opposed to using it with pre-verbal children (even her grandmother who is DEAF and big part of why we want her to be familiar with ml2 mostly lip reads) so I am much more dependent on outside resources for ml2. We've gotten lucky with some second hand DVDs and other materials but I'd say we've spent around $200 in materials and I expect that to double if not triple as she gets older and we allow her more DVD time.
I believe that the highest cost and effort is the time I try to dedicate to languages. I must say that, as a full-time worker who is away from the house 13 hours a day, it is very difficult sometimes to speak the ml with my daughter and put time and effort into our language project.
We have a ml nanny, but she probably costs less than a ML one would
I put two or three hundred dollars into resources when I can find them, so maybe two or three times a year
We try to visit the ml country (Tunisia) every year, which probably costs at least $6,000 (mostly in airfare for our family of five, now six, from the US). We would do this anyway, to visit the family, but our concern for language exposure definitely motivates us to go more frequently than we otherwise might.
We're in the process of building a house in my husband's home village, but that's a whole other story!
I think it's very dependent on what your languages are, who speaks the languages, where they are spoken and the availability of resources.
Our son is only 4 months old but we've spent a lot already. His dad is trilingual Sami/Norwegian/English but doesn't speak much so we decided I would need to up the language exposure so I spent a lot of money on classes and resources to learn Norwegian. Even more expensive were immersion trips I made to Oslo to do intensive lessons. The cost of classes, accommodation and food in Norway is really high so this was quite a significant amount of money. We also spend money visiting family there more often than we likely would have done but as they are also very quiet people I get limited language input from them. As our baby grows this will hopefully provide him with more language input so we'll probably try to go every year. I bought a lot of children's books before he was born in Norway and this was a lot of money as books cost easily ten times as much as in the UK and sometimes more. We felt this was necessary as it helps me use a lot more Norwegian with our son. I'm sure there will be other expenses as he grows and we'll do what we can afford that we think will be helpful.
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Nellie: Adam - will watch the video as soon as I can (living circumstances not permitting right now - we are still in temp accommodation and I can't turn on volume) - looking forward to it!
Sept 22, 2017 5:56:44 GMT 9
Mayken: Skyping with grandma last night had to be cancelled due to technological problems - I needed to talk my mom through a Skype update and her phone battery died. :-(
Sept 25, 2017 20:45:42 GMT 9
Joanna: sorry Mayken...this is sad but funny as I'm sure many skype Grandparents have the same woes !(mine..) For us this weekend: potty training has led to great quality time reading and chatting, and some pretty hilarious ml questions
Sept 26, 2017 6:20:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken and Joanna, I can relate! My mother (Grandma) can't seem to get the sound on her computer working so when we Skype, we also have to use the telephone!
Sept 26, 2017 6:36:03 GMT 9
Mayken: Adam, and Joanna, it's good to know we're not alone in this!
Sept 27, 2017 2:46:28 GMT 9
Joanna: Planning a long Christmas minority language visit, so exciting!
Sept 30, 2017 14:46:01 GMT 9
Mayken: Yay! Skype is working again on my mom's tablet, meaning we can skype with ml grandma again!
Oct 2, 2017 23:12:24 GMT 9
Mayken: The other day my mom (monolingual ml) called while my daughter and I were out, so Daddy (monolingual ML) answered. My mom was amazed to find out he isn't monolingual ML any more after all, and praised his active ml ability.
Oct 3, 2017 23:28:39 GMT 9
Joanna: For each day my daughter is exposed to other people speaking English (here in France) I put a little star on the calendar...trying to fill it up!
Oct 8, 2017 3:52:17 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice motivating idea, Joanna! And Mayken, thanks for sharing your good news on two fronts!
Oct 9, 2017 7:11:50 GMT 9
Marisa: My daughter won't say number one in Spanish or English, but in German! She loves recognizing the number and saying it out loud... it sounds more like the word 'ice' in English, though, but it's 'eins.' Number 9, however, is 'nueve'. So funny!
Oct 11, 2017 10:33:45 GMT 9
Mayken: My dad's giving Adam's book to his Lithuanian friend's daughter, whose husband is sceptical about their little girl learning German.
Oct 14, 2017 21:10:20 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, thank you for sharing my book! I hope it can be helpful to them!
Oct 16, 2017 15:57:32 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, another bilingual monkey is about to be born near me (one of my colleagues is giving birth tomorrow), so I also got her and her husband a copy of your book... this world needs more bilingual kids!
Oct 18, 2017 0:06:43 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Many thanks, Marisa! In my humble opinion, more bilingual kids = more empathy in the world = a more peaceful planet.
Oct 18, 2017 7:33:04 GMT 9