Posts: 4 Country (residing now): United States Country (originally from): United States Children, Ages: Asher, 4 years and Jude, 1 1/2 year 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 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.
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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Raquel: I love it, Mayken! What a sweet lady. I would have listened in and not asked, hehe. Did you use it to show your daughter how useful the ml can be?
Dec 21, 2017 20:35:38 GMT 9
Mayken: Raquel, my daughter loved it - both the coincidence, and that this lady was learning our language!
Dec 24, 2017 22:25:47 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Happy New Year to you all! Let's make 2018 a really good year!
Dec 31, 2017 7:04:50 GMT 9
Joanna: Packing to go home from Canada...luggage scale reading 23 kg of minority language books!
Dec 31, 2017 23:48:06 GMT 9
Amy: Happy new year to all! . May 2018 bring you every success in your bilingual endeavours!
Jan 1, 2018 23:08:58 GMT 9
Mayken: Happy new year to everyone! I shared a little New Year's Eve story in the Snack Bar.
Jan 5, 2018 5:08:21 GMT 9
Mayken: 7yo wrote her Christmas letter in the ml and sent it to Santa's address in our ml country. This week she received his reply - and was somewhat offended that he replied in the ML
Jan 5, 2018 21:47:21 GMT 9
Adam Beck: That's very cute, Mayken!
Jan 6, 2018 7:57:09 GMT 9
Amy: Oh no Mayken!! I'd also feel very gutted in her shoes! Hope he made up for it by spoiling her on Xmas!
Jan 7, 2018 1:12:53 GMT 9
Mayken: He totally did, Amy! Especially her most important wish - the second illustrated Harry Potter (in ml, of course).
Jan 9, 2018 0:06:05 GMT 9
Raquel: Happy 2018!! How come Santa replied in the wrong language? That's weird.
Jan 9, 2018 19:26:41 GMT 9
Mayken: Raquel, he gets letters from all over the world at that German address, and I guess the reply is in the language that matches the country fo the child's return address. Next time she'll use my mom's address (if she still wants to write to Santa then).
Jan 10, 2018 0:38:19 GMT 9
Raquel: Mayken, I just was surprised that, reading a letter in a certain language, they would reply in a different one. But if it's an standarized letter, then it makes total sense.
Jan 10, 2018 21:42:23 GMT 9
Mayken: It is. Our local ML Santa, to whom my daughter wrote the year before (in ml) replied in ML too but started the letter with her name. But then he's serving a town of 37,000 people only.
Jan 10, 2018 23:18:32 GMT 9
Raquel: Makes sense, Mayken. Thanks for explaining.
Jan 11, 2018 22:31:51 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter called me out twice this week for using the wrong language with her. The second time it was only one work (number of a métro line).
Jan 12, 2018 0:16:39 GMT 9