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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Amy: Right you are Mayken!
Mar 28, 2018 1:43:20 GMT 9
Marisa: Way to go, Mayken! That's the (bilingual) spirit
Mar 29, 2018 0:55:54 GMT 9
Kristin T.: Will check out your podcast interview on my next run!
Mar 30, 2018 23:24:37 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter brought home her ml report card (she gets a separate one from the regular report card at her bilingual school), and it's straight A's! (Better than her marks in ML on the main report card.) I'm so proud!!!
Mar 31, 2018 6:10:44 GMT 9
Amy: Gratuliere (Congratulations) Mayken!!
Mar 31, 2018 16:54:17 GMT 9
Mayken: Thank you, Amy! As a reward, we allowed her to purchase a big item from her Christmas money--a Playmobil house, with which she now plays in ml!
Apr 4, 2018 3:37:31 GMT 9
Amy: Reward all the way round . Bilingual education can be a virtuous circle
Apr 4, 2018 5:26:18 GMT 9
Nellie: What great news, Mayken!
Apr 5, 2018 4:36:26 GMT 9
Raquel: I totally missed this. Congratulations, Mayken!! You have reason to be proud
Apr 10, 2018 20:08:02 GMT 9
Mayken: Thanks everyone! Today my daughter helped a classmate finish her ml homework just before school - all in ml. (My daughter had finished hers the day before at home.)
Apr 11, 2018 3:58:56 GMT 9
Raquel: I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing, Adam. She sounds like an amazing woman. Sending you a big hug from Madrid.
Apr 12, 2018 18:16:38 GMT 9
Marie: I am sorry to hear about your mother Adam. Thinking of you and your family.
Apr 13, 2018 4:25:21 GMT 9
Jana: What a beautiful tribute you wrote to your mother. Sending condolences from the SF Bay Area!
Apr 14, 2018 5:34:03 GMT 9
Kristin T.: I enjoyed reading your post about your mother. Those were some amazing photos to cherish forever. I am sorry for your loss. I know it's ever the more painful having been an expat so long. Take care & be kind to yourself.
Apr 16, 2018 2:24:35 GMT 9
Nellie: I'm so sorry to read about your mother Adam. She sounds like an incredible woman. Your friends across the world are thinking of you and your family!
Apr 17, 2018 0:50:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Thank you, everyone, for your warm expressions of sympathy on the loss of my mother. Your friendship and support has meant a lot to me at this challenging time.
Apr 17, 2018 7:44:14 GMT 9