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.
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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
Raquel: ^ Loved the Top-Secret Research studies!!
Oct 23, 2017 20:57:42 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Muchas gracias, Raquel!
Oct 24, 2017 5:24:58 GMT 9
Mayken: Me too! Can't decide which top secret file I'd want to get my hands on first!
Oct 26, 2017 4:44:55 GMT 9
Amy: ml1 extended week-end ahead with ml1 grandparents flying in tonight
Oct 28, 2017 4:31:57 GMT 9
Mayken: Follow-up on my daughter's visit at my old ml school: the headmistress suggested a penpal set-up between the class there and my daughter's class here. Let's see what my daughter's regular ml teacher says. I think that'd be cool. (The kids are in 2nd grade.
Oct 28, 2017 6:09:00 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Have a fun weekend, Amy! And Mayken, that sounds like a great idea! Cheers to you both, and to all!
Oct 28, 2017 7:18:43 GMT 9