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 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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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
Mayken: Victor's flashcards look amazing! I hope I'll win the giveaway - if not, I'll purchase a set for Christmas for sure. Thanks Adam for sharing these gems with us!
Sept 26, 2018 23:32:30 GMT 9
Marisa: Adam, I second Mayken's enthusiasm and gratitude for your posting about Victor's flashcards, they look amazing, thank you so much for the post! I already bought one set
Sept 30, 2018 10:25:51 GMT 9