I know here several moms sharing my ml as their native language who, if you ask them, they say they ALWAYS speak to their children in the ml, but if you observe them they do use both ml and ML.
I always found this very curious and wondered if somehow they did not notice that they were often using the ML when talking to their children. Often it would be in a situation where I would be chatting with the mom and then she would start saying something in ML to the child, and in this case I don't think there was any embarrassment involved since I am also a ml native speaker and always speak ml to my children. And I have seen this in more than one case. I think sometimes even adults are not aware of how much the ML "creeps in".
Although in the case Nellie saw I find it surprising that the mum did not talk in the ml at all or did not switch to the ml after Nellie's observation.
Carrie did you already start with the World Cup activities? I printed the timetable and my son was filling it in, putting who he thinks will win all the different matches, all the way to the end. Now he knows how all the countries that are participating in the World Cup are called in Spanish.
I like the book "CÓMO ABRIÓ DON NICANOR EL GRAN CIRCO VOLADOR" by Mar Benegas. She is a wonderful Spanish poet and all her books are wonderful. It might be too complicated if it is for your younger one. You can see more about the books with links to several reviews of the book here.
I also agree with Raquel and Amy that there is no one right way of doing this.
Here in Germany, children start school at 6, until then it is kindergarten with no homework or learning how to read/write.
So far my only experience with school is with my 9 year old who is now in third grade. Until now I've done the same as Alisa and left the ML teaching mainly to school. My son is an easy child with school things, he is self driven and motivated and can handle his homework on his own, so that makes it easy for me to "stay out" of the ML homework. I do talk with him in the ml about what he's doing at school and, for example, see that he's building up the new vocabulary he's learning in school in ML also in the ml. If we talk about a non-language subject like maths, it is all in the ml. If we talk about the ML class and we still talk about it in the ml, I usually point out the differences in how things work in the ml (for example, when learning that nouns in the ML are written with the first letter in uppercase, I tell him how in our ml this is not so).
I must say if he ever has a question about how a word is written in the ML and my husband is not around he doesn't trust me if I have a different opinion from his and I have to show him it in a dictionary.
I sometimes wonder if I shouldn't somehow be doing more to support the ML (like, for example, I'm always promoting ml reading but not ML reading, and my husband, who's a ML speaker, is not very proactive about this) but so far my son gets very good grades in his ML, so this quiets my worries.
I will have to see how it goes with his younger siblings, who have different personalities.
Mayken , it was a FB group for pen-pals but only in Spanish. But I asked my 9 year old son if he would like a pen pal in German and he said yes. Or if she prefers a girl her age or wants more than one pen pal I can ask around and I'm sure I will find some.
Amy and Raquel, thanks a lot for you encouraging words. Raquel, I think that's exactly what I should do, start small, take one thing at a time. I always have millions of ideas but then have problems focusing on really implementing something.
We had planned to spend this week on vacation in Spain, but unfortunately my father-in-law is living now his last days and we decided therefore to cancel our vacation and stay in Germany, closer to him.
This week, we continued with our read-alouds. The 3 year old makes sure I read him some picture books during the day and for the other two I set myself the target to read at least one chapter of the book I'm reading to each of them and we did it. We saw the movie The Bear together as a family, they don't talk much in it, but we talked a lot about what we were seeing.
I changed our breakfast read-aloud to poetry. Reading a chapter book wasn't working very well since the 3 year old was interrupting all the time, and since I wanted to introduce some poetry in our family and poems can be shorter than chapters I thought I would give it a shot. It has worked beautifully and we all have enjoyed the poems.
I set again a homework routine for the 9 year old and he completed it. He also read in Spanish two Captain Underpants books. And we are reading in parallel (as part of his homework) Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman in Spanish.
Through a FB group I found ml pen-pals for all three of them, we wrote our letters last week and this week all three got letters.
For next week I want to keep our routines and as an extra target I want to focus on my daughter since I think she's coming up a little too short on ml input.
My older son is very much into soccer and therefore the World Cup. In the past European and World Cups we usually met with all our friends from Spain here to watch together when Spain was playing.
We also look at the map where the countries are and learn their capitals and what language is spoken in that land. I also print out a calendar with the matches where he fills in the results. You can find one in Spanish, for example here: www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-42201220
I always put a small note in Spanish in my son's lunch box for school and when there's something like the World Cup I often put related things, for example I look in google in Spanish for "curious facts about the World Cup" and then make my notes based on that.
My son is now learning to program with Scratch and currently for school he was programming a question/answer game, then he wanted to do another such game with questions about the World Cup and European Cup and he said he will put the questions/answers in both languages.
During the World Cup and European Cup I also play now and then World Cup related songs in Spanish during our car drives: Waka Waka by Shakira (Spanish version), La copa de la vida by Ricky Martin, Waving Flag (Spanish version) by K'Naan sung by David Bisbal.
I switched our breakfast reading to poetry last week and it has been a big success. Somehow the chapter book reading was hard with the three year old and I wanted to introduce more poetry into our lives, so I thought of just reading poems during breakfast and so far it has worked really well. We have been reading "Rumor de Rimas" by Antonio Rubio and an anthology from Gloria Fuertes. The little one loves the Rumor de Rimas and often asks me to read some poems during the day.
Mayken I also think you're being too hard on yourself and I also think you're doing a great job raising your daughter bilingual, but I can also understand your concerns and frustrations since I also have similar feelings. All my three kids are strong in the ml, but I feel there is more I should do and I also feel there are a lot of ideas our there I should implement but somehow I don't manage it. I loved Amy's and Raquel's suggestions; I myself am looking into how to tackle my feeling that I should be doing more and I found them also useful for me.
For the camps in ml, I think that in a couple of years, once she is a little older, it will become easier. Other ideas: Maybe having your cousin's daughter over for a few days? Or when you take a vacation that's not in Germany look for a hotel with lots of German guests? We have been in holidays in Spain, where we booked the hotel here in Germany through a German travel agency, and we were almost the only Spanish speaking guests in the hotel. With a setting like that, your daughter could join activities in German with the other German kids even though you're not in Germany.
I've been thinking lately that while I'm good at the routines we have already implemented (read alouds, family movie night, ml messages in lunch box), I haven't been very successful in implementing the new things I was intending to implement (board games, better use of audio resources, teaching my daughter how to read, homework routine). Somehow the days fly by and then the month is already over without having made much progress. So I want to brainstorm on how should I better approach this. My thoughts so far are sitting every Sunday and setting small goals for the upcoming week.
Yesterday during dinner my 9 year old son was telling us about some little poems he had to write in school. Then he said that after writing a couple in German (ML) he asked the teacher if he could write one in Spanish and she said it was a good idea, and so he did. He then read it aloud for his friends and even his teacher tried to read it (she doesn't speak any Spanish at all). The whole story made me very happy and proud.
Amy, how great that you decided to write a blog!! I just took a quick glance and I love it. I'm sure it will be helpful to lots of bilingual families out there. I have already linked to it on the bilingual blogs list on my blog.
In our case what I have seen is that the ML is more present in our home for the younger children than it was for the older one, because of the friends the older one(s) bring home. So when my older son was 3 we didn't have ML friends coming over to play; now that the younger one is 3, his older brother and sister have often ML friends over, so he hears more ML at home and also he hears me more often speaking in the ML.
On the other hand, the younger one hears, for example, much more read alouds in the ml than the other did at his age, since he often hears what I read to the other two. And I have a lot more resources (books, DVDs, music, games...) in the ml now than I did at the beginning.
I also agree with Raquel that the child's personality also has an impact on the bilingual journey. My daughter for example is much more social that her older brother was, and she wants to go to her friends' houses or have them come over all the time, which makes it harder to have ml time with her.
At our home right now, the older and the younger both have the strongest ml skills, while the middle one is the weakest (even though she has a good level, but I think I have to get more proactive with her, since she will be starting school in the ML after the summer).
We have recently discovered a Spanish group that plays songs for kids that in our case both parents and kids enjoy, Petit Pop.
For classical children songs, I like the collection "Ruidos y ruiditos" by Judith Akoschky from Argentina.
I also think Amy has a very good point in not limiting us to children's music but exploring the grown-up music with our kids to. For example there is a CD by Spanish singers Ana Belen and Victor Manuel where they did a concert with lot of other Spanish singers called "Mucho mas que dos" that I often play on our car rides.
Amy, I use the digital resources mostly for the older one, for the two younger ones we do all our reading on paper.
If you have enough time in the evening you could "switch kids": you read in your ml to one of your daughters while your husband reads in his to the other one, and then you switch. We sometimes do this with my husband reading in ML, although he doesn't do it as often as I would like to so usually I have all three of them to read to, then I do it in age order and when I'm lucky they fall asleep while I'm reading to the older ones.
I'm happy to read you like the idea with the photos. We once had an issue between my older son and his sister about who could get on the blue stool for teeth brushing (we had two stools but both wanted the blue one) that we solved like that. The two-sided picture hung in the bathroom so that we could flip the side every day, and after a while my daughter would sneak in just before tooth brushing time and would flip it to her side.
Amy and Raquel, I find your conversation in this thread very inspiring for other parents of bilingual children (like me ). Amy, happy to hear the library tip was useful for you.
About the nature/nurture, in my case I can see my three children have very different personalities, likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, which of course also affect the bilingual journey. What works for one often does not work for the other, and I often have to think of different strategies for each of them.
About the ml@home and feeling “excluded”, in our home we don't watch any German TV and I always thought there will come the day when my children ask for it. They are now 9, almost 6 and just 3, and this day hasn't yet come. Over Christmas we were at my father-in-law and my older son was sick so I stayed home with him while the rest of the family went out. He wanted to watch a movie and we didn't have Spanish things available so I said it was okay in German for once. Afterwards he told me it felt strange to watch TV in German and he preferred to watch movies in Spanish. 😊 We do sometimes look for translations in German of character names or specific words from movies we have seen or books we have read in Spanish (like Harry Potter specific words) but that’s about it. Last summer the song “Despacito” was a hit in Germany and I could see my son was very proud when other children in school asked him how to pronounce the text correctly.
What I see becomes more difficult once children grow up with the ml@home is that the ML creeps more and more inside once ML friends come over more often. So far I keep speaking Spanish to my kids and then translate what I said into German for the ML speaking friends. They are usually interested in Spanish and ask how to say things or try to pick up words from what I say in Spanish. Most of them already know the “basics” like “si”, “no”, “gracias”, “adios” and so on. But of course this means my younger one hears me speak more ML than the other two did at his age.
About the board games, two things I do when I can’t play one on one, for the little one, I sit him beside us and give him something that can keep him entertained like play dough, this is usually enough for short games. With the middle one, if the older one wants to play a game that's too hard for her, then she plays with me on a team. I also do this sometimes with the little one (and then he throws the dice or moves the figures) but with him chances are he will get bored quickly and start throwing things around and disturb the game.
Undraa, maybe an idea for the fighting over TV, print a photo of each of your children and then glue them back to back, then you put it near the TV and whoever is on the front gets to pick that day what to watch, then the photo is switched and the next day the other child is on the front and picks.
I recently read a book compilation called "Cien libros de los ochenta para leer con niños antes de la adolescencia" that made me remember some children's books originally written in Spanish that I read during my childhood.
From that book, some other authors that wrote children's novels in Spanish: Consuelo Armijo, Juan Muñoz Martín, Carmen Kurtz, Patricia Barbadillo, Pilar Mateos.
Two other writers from Spain, for early teens, Joan Manuel Gisbert and Jordi Serra i Fabra.
I am currently reading to my 9 year old "La ciudad de las bestias" by Isabel Allende and we are both enjoying it.
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