I definitely share your frustration with the feelings of having come to an awareness of the importance of emphasizing bilingualism a little late. But it's not worth beating yourself up over. And, hey, at least we're here now.
In a weird way I take comfort in thinking back to all of the messed up things my parents did raising me, and realizing that I turned out pretty OK.
I think you take a good approach here, Amy. I've definitely found that shaking up the routine by introducing new KINDS of books is really helpful. Adults use books in different ways. I mean, there's entertainment, but also personal reference, or as a comforting object or memento. But I guess children have to learn that books aren't always just for stories at certain times of the day.
Recently, I found that a park that I take my children to play in has a small children's library in one of the buildings in the park. It's a little run-down, and an unexpected addition to this park that we usually use for riding bicycles, but when we decided to explore, I was really pleased that my son knew exactly what to do--he found an interesting-looking book (unfortunately there were only ML books to choose from) and plopped down on a cushion. So, as a break from riding bikes we had an impromptu reading session (I "read" him my quick and dirty translation from ML into ml). So, part of the lesson there was, I think, books are good in any situation.
Last night when we were reading a book together I discovered that my three year old recognises numbers by looking at them. He knows numbers in ML until 20. So then I panicked and started asking the numbers in ml. He could recognise until 5 and then mixed up 8 and 9. The rest he couldn't say. Have no idea how I missed this but I need to pay more attention and start thinking about teaching him letters and numbers perhaps. His development in ML is going way too fast for me.
Ugh! This sounds so familiar to me! I have to constantly remind myself to take pride in my son's developing ML abilities while continuing to push him in his ml. I agree with what Amy said about the ml always being one step behind the ML. And one thing Adam says, which I think is very good advice, is: be realistic about your child's language exposure.
I guess I'm less shocked nowadays when my son comes out with some new ML skills that put his ml to shame. But it also makes me praise him more strongly and more sincerely when I do catch him making progress in the ml.
Pronouns is one that I have obsessed over recently. My son has just started to use words like "I" and "you" which are pretty basic words that are an important English language milestone. But Japanese doesn't rely on these words nearly so much. So, it was a weakness for him. But I just kept pushing him and quizzing him and using those words intentionally in front of him, and he eventually caught on. And I was almost in tears when I realized he had used these words correctly. Silly me.
This one has been and continues to be a struggle for me. I'm not sure what is right. I sometimes feel lazy about my use of the ML...lately less so. My son and I have been pretty good about having di-lingual (borrowing this word from Annick DeHouwer) conversations, where I speak to him in ml and he is encouraged to speak in ml too, but ML responses are sometimes OK too, though he understands that I'll most likely speak to him with the ml. That's begun to feel more natural. But the struggle is just in applying more gentle pressure for him (and my daughter as well) to SPEAK ml. He does so more and more often these days, which is promising.
As far as priorities go, I have to say, language and ml specifically is my top priority when it comes to the free time I have with my children. Things like my job and my own sanity sometimes take priority over spending time with my children. But, like I said, when I am focused on being with them and in "daddy mode" I am also in "bilingual" mode, which was not always the case. But this place that I've sort of evolved into with my bilingual parenting feels great. Definitely making progress.
My son will start Japanese "Kindergarten" for 3-year-olds next month. He's already had his first 2 piano lessons. So, I'm expecting more homework assignments in the form of art projects and such. I'm really excited to be able to help out with those. Also, my job situation is changing, so that I'll be around in the morning to help with these sorts of things. Obviously we're not in any kind of routine yet. And he's still so young. But hopefully my excitement will translate into good action and habit formation in the coming months.
Had to update my response just now, since we've started doing some captive reading around the house. Ours looks a lot like Mayken's, but still just at the letter/word level. I'm not including any sentences yet. But I do have magazine cut-outs as illustrations for each word. I'll have to snap a photo and share it soon.
We're not actively learning Spanish at the moment at my house, as I know you are. But when the time comes, I'll have a great line-up of Spanish-language focused web resources that I can draw on just by searching this website!
You're probably already doing this somewhere--if nowhere else, then at least in people's profile data--but it would be cool to see a chart of all the different MLs and mls and their overlaps and geographies of all the users on this site.
Finally placed my order for High Five in the Highlights family of magazines for my son.
I really like that they personalize the subscription FOR the child. Actually, I remember this from my Highlights subscription growing up--I would be so excited that it had MY name on it. Nothing like seeing your own name in print as a motivator. Still true for the adult version of me too I guess!
Wow! 4 and a half would be quite young to be flying/ traveling alone... I think you're making the right decision by sending your partner along. I guess I'm a little jealous, that's all.
Also, I think it's great to get your sister-in-law's family in on the traveling too! I've definitely been able to use the distance between my family in the US and where we live in Japan as leverage to get more visitors. Starting my own branch of the family in a country so far away has definitely shaken things up in the extended family. But it's a good thing. We're all growing this way.
This is one of those areas where I think multilingual parenting really has an advantage over monolingual parenting. That's because it gets us parents to pay a lot more attention to the texts that our families are producing and consuming! But more than that, I love that this loving attention to our languages generates so many opportunities to bask in the joy of expressing yourself!
I used to get so bent out of shape because I wasn't writing a particular WAY about my bilingual experiences. Nowadays I am usually just appreciative of the fact that I am writing at all. Since bilingualism is such a high priority for our family, whatever I am writing tends to be in some way connected to the topic.
I have to say, using this forum has been a great "warm-up" writing task for me these past few weeks too.
I write only in this forum. I also write in ml in handwriting in a diary form but that's because I wanted to do a homework plan later when my children start writing and reading. Now when I see all the good ideas that you guys wrote, I am inspired to do many other things to take this further.
Undraa, I'm curious what script(s) you write your ml in. Is your ml Mongolian? Do you use Cyrillic or Chinese characters? Or maybe there's some other option I'm forgetting. Does anyone still use that classical Mongolian script?
Please excuse my ignorance.
When I write things for my children I use ml (Roman alphabet) exclusively. But I'm totally jealous that my son gets to learn Japanese writing from such an early age in school.
Mayken, thank you. This is a really important reminder. And I hope your mother is now feeling fine again.
Actually, my father isn't doing so well these days and this raises some regret over the fact that we live half a world away (Japan to the U.S.) and haven't been able to spend much time with him. I've been in Japan for 20 years, so it's always been this whole ay, and while I've tried to bridge the distance and nurture a relationship through Skype, video, photos, and letters, it's still sad that my kids and my parents weren't able to be together more in person.
Oh no, Adam! I hope you are planning a trip to visit your father soon--Spring break or Golden Week holidays are coming up. Actually, given what a stickler you are about privacy, I was surprised to read this here. I hope that doesn't indicate that your father's situation is more serious. Anyway, take the opportunity to visit while you can. (And sorry if I'm blowing this out of proportion.)
Well, I'm excited to say that in the end this Easter my eldest will be traveling off to ml1 country for her first solo holiday at her grandparents' house!
Hubby was very motivated and organised the whole thing in the blink of an eye.
Hurray for the grandparents!
Wow! That's exciting! How old is your oldest child, Amy? I never got to take any solo trips like this as a youngster. I was always jealous of my friends who could starting in about 4th grade--I think that's when I found out my best friend was going to fly in an airplane by himself.
I guess that distance is a factor--Europe to Mongolia or Japan to the USA is a different situation than say United States to Canada...
I'm definitely going to use Amy's idea for captive phonics and maybe even break it down further to captive letter shapes recognition.
We already have some of this going with refrigerator magnets now that I think about it. The refrigerator being in a well-traveled section of our apartment, it gets a lot of attention. And these are fun because they can be arranged and rearranged on the refrigerator door. My son has been into these so much lately that even my 10-month-old daughter has taken an interest. Yay!
I know other families at our bilingual school who don't have any ml grandparents or where health or other problems prevent interaction/visits.
So, if you have ml grandparents, cherish them!
You are absolutely right. We should be thankful for these people. We were lucky enough to be able to host my parents here in Japan for 3 weeks around Christmas and New Years last year. It's not exactly the same as the immersion of being in a completely different place, but it's the next best thing. In addition to the relationship-building between grandparents and grandchildren, having visits like these is a good way to refresh and remind me of a major reason why I'm stressing learning the ml in the first place-- so we can all communicate!
What's on your mind right now? Just type and hit "Enter" to share it here!
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