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 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.
Mayken: My daughter's ml homework for this week included baking a cake - there's a cake in the story they read, and after each chapter there are questions and tasks, and the current chapter has the step-by-step recipe. She's to bring the cake to school too.
May 1, 2018 23:48:48 GMT 9
Amy: What a nice original homework! Makes such a change from standard homework, and I wouldn't be surprised if kids remember more from it! I like your bilingual school Mayken! Lucky little girl, and lucky Mummy!
May 2, 2018 0:00:43 GMT 9
Mayken: ml cake homework update: About half the class brought cake (8 out of 15), not all of them were the cake from the book recipe, but my daughter's was the most popular. (Maybe because we added food colouring and topped it with chocolate icing and smarties?)
May 4, 2018 5:58:10 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Cake is definitely my favorite kind of homework!
May 4, 2018 11:28:51 GMT 9
Jana: One of the best parts of having kids in bilingual school was getting Mother's Day cards in two languages! (With less-than-perfect spelling in both!) Ha!
May 15, 2018 9:16:08 GMT 9
Amy: (Twice) Lucky you Jana! So nice to read exciting pieces of news like yours!
May 16, 2018 5:46:25 GMT 9
Mayken: I still have that to look forward to, Jana! Mother's Day in our ML country is two weeks later, and the ml teacher goes along with that date. (It was last Sunday in our ml country.)
May 16, 2018 5:58:11 GMT 9