Posts: 6 Country (residing now): United States Country (originally from): United States Children, Ages: Asher, 4 years and Jude, 2 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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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
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