My son (2 1/2) is being raised with German as a ml and English as a ML. I've always spoken to him in German and never moved away from that. Up to today I have not said one word in English to him. The problem is, he doesn't have this attitude. He often talks in English to me and my concern is if I react correctly.
Ideal situation: Him (German): I want to sleep. Me: You want to sleep? Him (German): Yes.
2nd scenario (still good): Him (English): Let me down. Me: What? Him (English): Let me down. Me: What? Him (German): Let me down. Me: Okay.
3rd scenario: Him (English): I want my Easter bunny. Me: What? Him (English): I want my Easter bunny (pointing). Me: (German) What? (Pretending to think and trying to figure out what he means) Him: (English) I want my Easter bunny. Me: (German) Ahhhh....you want your Easter bunny. Him: (German) Yes.
Does this trigger for him that I actually understand English?
Of course, there are situations where he addresses me fully in German but the English is obviously dominant.
Even if I'm alone with him he speaks English with me although he knows that he has to talk in German. He is code switching as well and I'm proud that he speaks German at all but I would like him to speak German to me especially in these 1on1 times.
Yes, the fact that your son knows you speak the ML is the reason he's not making the effort to use the ml. Kids are very pragmatic: Why use a fork when I can use my hands? Why walk when Daddy can carry me? Why use that weird language Daddy speaks when he speaks that language everyone speaks around us?
When my eldest was born, we used One Person One Language strategy (we have 2 mls) with the ML as a family language. By 4 years old, my eldest was a passive trilingual who refused to use anything but the ML as (in her own words) "it's easier". In our case, because our circumstances allowed it, we went for the extremely tough option of "banning" the ML from home to create the need in her to use her mls, hence creating a ml@h (ml at home) only rule.
What I currently do with my youngest (2, like yours ) when she uses a ML word is that I repeat everything she says in the ml. She is usually very happy to repeat. For the moment, I think she is a bit young for me to insist on using the ml. I'll probably insist more when she turns 3.
What you can do to help this situation: When you're alone with him (I assume here that Mummy doesn't speak the ml), bathe the house in ml full blast. Even if you're not watching or actually listening. Kids always hear what's going on. I don't know about you but personally, as a bilingual, I often code-switch to the language I hear. Plus, having a ml environment de-emphasises the importance of the ML.
Hope these thoughts can be of help.
***"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Oscar Wilde***
Matthias, I don't know the full details of the current situation (and your son is still quite small so this is still an early stage of language development and use), but as Amy is suggesting, it sounds like there may be shortcomings in both "core conditions" of exposure and need: In order to nurture active ability in the target language, the child must receive ample exposure in that language as well as feel a genuine need to use it.
To my mind, the most effective way of getting a child to use the minority language more is by proactively addressing these two larger conditions. Smaller techniques for encouraging use of the minority language (like repetition) can be important, too, but honestly, the need for these smaller techniques becomes less important when the two core conditions are sufficiently strengthened because the child will then naturally begin using the target language more regularly.
For much more on exposure and need, I suggest taking a close look at these articles. Hopefully, they will offer some useful and encouraging food for thought.
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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Angela: So sorry for your loss. She was a great woman. I hope you feel a bit better. Kisses from Spain.
Apr 22, 2018 23:34:43 GMT 9
Mayken: We visited a Loire Valley château yesterday. Our daughter got a kids' activity booklet and we parents got the regular tour booklet in French. She asked for one in German (our ml). When I later asked her why, she said "Because I'm a German-speaker!"
Apr 23, 2018 23:23:36 GMT 9
Nellie: Haha love it Mayken! The best thing is - she is right!
Apr 24, 2018 5:45:09 GMT 9
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
Flir: Adam, uh oh. Time waits for no one. I'm very sorry to hear that. Stay strong man, your kids are looking up to you to give them as much as your parents gave you once. Best wishes.
May 24, 2018 20:11:03 GMT 9