I haven't posted in a while but I want to share my frustration. My older two are 9 and 7 and fully bilingual in English and Spanish. The youngest just turned three and the ml, Spanish, was his dominant language until summer vacation started. With my older two home all day speaking English 90% of the time between them he has had a huge English explosion and while he understands everything I say in Spanish he answers in English most of the time. We use the OPOL.
It is very frustrating for me because this never happened with the older two I guess because they are so close in age and they would speak in Spanish to each other until they started school when they were four years old. So they got a solid four years of just Spanish at home, I stay at home, and would switch to English to speak to their dad.
I know this is to be expected but, and sorry for the dramatics, it breaks my heart when he responds to me in Spanish. I try to get the girls to speak to him in Spanish but I feel like I have to nag them to do it and after a while they switch back to English.
The older two are at grade level in reading and writing in Spanish which is my goal for all three of them but I fear that if the kids keep speaking the ML to him he will never get there with his speech as well as other areas.
Lilles, your frustration is only natural, but I would encourage you to stay patiently and playfully persistent, as I suspect that, over the months and years ahead, your youngest will make satisfying progress, too. Although, at the moment, it may feel like your two older children are "hindering" your efforts, in time their strong bilingual ability will surely turn to your advantage in very productive ways: not only will their growing maturity enable you to more effectively "enlist" their support in nurturing the youngest child's Spanish side, but the youngest will no doubt look up to the older siblings and seek to emulate their bilingual success.
More concretely, you might try moving this process forward by having your older two read aloud to the youngest child while establishing the ground rule that, at this particular time, they (the older children) can only read and speak Spanish (even if the youngest child continues to respond in English). This more defined period of time may make it easier for the older children to stick to Spanish with the younger one. (You could fortify their efforts, too, by setting up a system of small rewards, like bestowing treats, if everyone tries hard during these read-aloud times.)
Finally, I don't know if the kids are schooled in English or in a combination of English and Spanish, but if they attend an English-only school, it's also generally true that, as the years pass and children become more heavily immersed in a majority language setting, they tend to use it as the "default language" for their communication. That has been the case with my own kids, who seemed to prefer English (our minority language) before they entered elementary school, but now often default to Japanese (our majority language) for their personal interactions.
In this respect, maintaining the minority language, as the main language of interaction among siblings, can be difficult as they grow older, but our greater goals for their bilingual ability can still be achieved through daily persistence and long-term perseverance.
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: School starts again tomorrow. This year, exceptionally, 7yo will have all of her ml classes in 2 half days, instead of 1h/day. We'll see how that goes. (She's in 2nd grade.)
Sept 3, 2017 17:58:36 GMT 9
Amy: "Bonne rentrée" Mayken! Hope this new schedule will work well for your daughter though I have no doubt she will keep up her already excellent bilingual level
Sept 3, 2017 18:57:33 GMT 9
Mayken: Thanks Amy! Bonne rentrée to you too! My daughter has ml on Tuesday mornings (tomorrow!) and Thursday afternoons.
Sept 5, 2017 5:39:39 GMT 9
Amy: First Wednesday at home magic: ml2 bathed home and catching my 5 year old singing along her music player in ml2.... Bilingual bliss! Only you fellow bilingual parents could understand this
Sept 6, 2017 21:05:46 GMT 9
Mayken: Planning to send my daughter to ml school again during the next holidays. But it's ok, she's looking forward to it!
Sept 8, 2017 4:45:12 GMT 9
Mayken: We had our parents meetings with the ml teacher, my daughter will have a lot of work this year! One parent asked "which kids actually do speak ml at home?" Does that mean many of them don't???
Sept 13, 2017 5:02:26 GMT 9
Nellie: Mayken - my daughter is a lot younger than yours (just starting PS), but in her class there are two children with Spanish-speaking parents, but apparently neither of them actually speak it...disappointing!
Sept 13, 2017 6:28:10 GMT 9
Amy: Nellie, these 2 kids might simply be passive bilinguals, and as you know the penny might simply drop one day and they'll start using Spanish...
Sept 13, 2017 17:05:33 GMT 9
Mayken: In our ml class the kids are required to have a high level of ml. In class they only speak ml (this year there's a penalty for speaking ML!). I assumed they all speak ml with the ml parent at home. (I've known those kids for 2 years.)
Sept 13, 2017 23:42:56 GMT 9
Nellie: Yes I'm sure you're right and they are passive bilinguals! And they are young. I certainly hope by your daughter's age that my little one will be speaking ml1 with me - have already seen a lot of progress over the last week! The penny is dropping!
Sept 14, 2017 5:51:52 GMT 9
Patricia: Has anyone encountered studies, or personal accounts, of bilingualism (or multilingualism) playing a role in delayed speech?
Sept 15, 2017 1:31:58 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Patricia, please complete your Profile (see my "welcome message" for guidance), then post your questions to the forum boards. Thank you.
Sept 15, 2017 6:14:15 GMT 9