Posts: 7 Country (residing now): United States Country (originally from): United States Children, Ages: Asher, 5 years and Jude, 3 years Majority Language: American English Minority Language(s): Afrikaans
We currently operate in OPOL mode in our home. I speak the ML and my husband the ml to the kids. But to each other we speak ML (mostly because I can only understand children's level instructions in the ml). It's causing some friction, as it's apparent my kids need to see the ml spoken by their father even in my presence (otherwise they also try to respond to him in the ML like I do), but he gets frustrated if he goes solo in ml and I constantly misunderstand him, lol. So, do I need to take some lessons and tough it out till I understand more or are there creative ways other couples have dealt with their interpersonal relationship in the bilingual swirl?
Gosh that's a hard one - although it's nice that your children want their father to speak in the ml! If you can work on your own mastery of the ml, I think that would be a great role model for your children! Or maybe define key ml 'moments' such as mealtimes - when you will all speak ml together! Watching you make mistakes and learn will no doubt be fun for your kids and boost their own confidence too.
Jennifer, yes, this can be a challenging situation, with a number of considerations, but it's nevertheless true--as you've noted--that the more your husband uses the majority language in the children's presence, the more their need to use the minority language with him will likely be undermined. As Nellie suggested, I would encourage you to support your family's minority language aim as best you can by learning this language, too, and helping to fortify the minority language environment of your home in further ways, as possible. (Maybe you and your husband could brainstorm ideas for shoring up exposure and need for the minority language, which are the two "core conditions" for progress and success.)
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.
It's great that you are willing to find a solution, it can only help their minority language...and yours too! How have things changed since your post? I understand it must be difficult, my husband's English isn't perfect, but he manages to speak in English to our daughter, and I often speak in English to him (with varying levels of success as proved by my embarassingly long thread on the ups and downs!).
I think this is a really important post you've made, and hope others can share the way they communicate around the children, in public, and out of earshot of the children...it's a big factor for success I think.
English speaking Canadian Mom, French speaking Dad, happily transitioning to minority language at home (English) with our baby daughter in France.
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Mayken: Veda, when you go to your "Profile", there's a button at the top right that says "Edit Profile". Then click on the "Personal" tab (and other tabs) to edit the information. Hope that helps!
Jan 10, 2019 0:14:02 GMT 9
Veda L: Many thanks to Mayken for the tip. Finally changed my profile. To those who are celebrating Chinese New Year, a healthy and prosperous year of the pig in advance!
Jan 30, 2019 6:44:01 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Here's a lively list of 20 bloggers raising bilingual/multilingual children! (Recognize anyone?) buff.ly/2QT0eHL
Jan 31, 2019 9:01:41 GMT 9
Mayken: Hey Adam Beck, how come your photo on that list is bigger than everyone else's?
Jan 31, 2019 23:59:17 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Mayken, I don't know, but I wish I could say it's because I'm taller! My son (almost 12) is now nearly as tall as I am. Just yesterday I told him that I have to start growing again!
Feb 1, 2019 10:12:14 GMT 9
Mayken: Adam Beck, thanks for sharing the impressions of your trip to China! I love those duck boats and that doorway! And meeting those kids wanting to speak English with you is so amazing!(I won't enter the giveaway because I'm afraid of winning the chicken claws!)
Feb 6, 2019 0:24:50 GMT 9
Mayken: My friend S asked her bilingual 2.5-year-old daughter: What language do mommy & daddy speak? D: English! S: What language does Grandma speak? D: French! S: What language do the cats speak? D (*thinks, then answers*): Meow!
Feb 7, 2019 0:08:00 GMT 9
Amy: Bless!! how cute is that!!! Reminds me of a similar thing that happened with my youngest when she was 18 months: she said the sound right for every animal but the cow. She kept answering "Lola" because of a famous Spanish nursery rhyme about a cow!
Feb 7, 2019 0:40:09 GMT 9
Alba: My son caught us by surprise when we said thank you (in English) to a waiter in a Mexican restaurant, and he said "gracias" (thank you) to him too in Spanish, also signing it! He was having a blast and there was some Spanish music in the background.
Feb 10, 2019 18:48:58 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Sounds like a wonderful moment, Alba!
Feb 11, 2019 11:57:53 GMT 9