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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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...
Jul 6, 2018 4:02:38 GMT 9
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!
Jul 6, 2018 21:28:23 GMT 9
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