I think I have been slipping a bit with reading and so on recently. I am doing it, but not as enthusiastically or as much as usual. End of year lethargy no doubt...
On the upside, we went to London for the weekend! It was, of course, lots of fun. My daughter loved riding the buses. And she mentioned how excited she was to speak English because she needs to "teach her brother"(!), and said that when she is in London, her "ears hurt" when she hears French. Hahaa!!! Actually she did end up hearing quite a bit of French as my French best friend lives there and we spent a lot of time together. But we did get a local babysitter one night, and of course just the exposure to being in London was wonderful for her. She didn't want to leave! My son also seemed to have fun, although he slept through the wonderful playgrounds! It really is a shame that making the trip is so expensive, or we would go far more often.
Second week of holidays here! The first week, my daughter attended a bilingual ML-ml1 music camp that ended up having as its theme...Latin America! So they learnt some ml2 songs. My daughter seemed proud to be able to say that she spoke ml2 to the teachers. The camp was only half-days, and she spent the afternoons with a little boy who has the same three languages, with the ml2 nanny. I wasn't there to see it unfortunately but I'm sure it went well. From what the nanny told me, my daughter's ml2 is stronger, but that is fine - just playing with another child with the same languages was no doubt helpful!
This week my daughter is with her ML grandparents.
My son is really coming along with understanding. He follows simple commands in the three languages - it takes him a while to react sometimes, but he does eventually do it. No words but there is time! He is just 13 months. He is still not very good at listening to books, but is improving. I'm really starting to have fun with him!
Alba - as Amy says, at a time of desperation (!), my husband and I decided jointly - well, I decided and he agreed! - to make meal times "ml-only" time. It made an incredible difference for us. My daughter was quite angry at first and refused to do it (and to hear her father speaking ml1!), but we stuck to our guns. To try to make it fun, if anyone forgot and spoke the ML, everyone else would point at them and make a funny noise (my daughter has now added a special gesture she does when it is her who forgot!). After a week or so, she started to accept the new norm and very quickly it became a habit. What was even more interesting was that just becoming used to speaking together in ml1 as a family, meant that even outside of mealtimes, my husband started to communicate much more in ml1 with me.
I think my days away (a total of 10, over a 3-week period) have definitely had an impact. I can feel my daughter is ever-so-slightly more reluctant to speak in English with me, It may be minor, but I want to halt it now - especially as she will be staying with her ML grandparents for a week over the holidays! Luckily my husband is travelling himself for a few days starting tomorrow, so I will have more time alone with both children. I will take the opportunity to read lots. On Tuesday nights I always feel more free to read until later, as there is no school on Wednesday.
On another note, I reread my earlier entries on this thread and realised that a year ago, my expectations for ml2 were much lower than they are now. I was hoping ml2 would be a nice 'addition' to the ML and ml1, but now I really want for it to be up there with them. Funny how what we imagine is possible can change. I hope I am being realistic!
Jen - I was living in Providencia (near Tobalaba) and the fact that everyone else seemed to be living so far away was probably THE major problem for us, especially as we didn't have a car. I wish we had been able to meet back then!
And yes, it's a major surprise to everyone how hard it is, I think! I think most of us here have been frustrated by people minimising our efforts, saying there is no need to do anything special because it will 'come naturally'...the fact that you have taken the step of coming to this forum will make a big difference though, you will see! It also sounds as though you have a very supportive husband, which should help a lot.
Hola Jen! I was living in Chile until a year ago and was also the sole exposure to English for my daughter. So I can completely picture your situation! Where are you living exactly? Are you working?
It is great that you are trying to make some English-speaking friends - I personally found this a bit hard to do, but that was also due to the fact that I was working full-time and most English-speaking families tended to leave the city every weekend, so there seemed to be very limited opportunities to meet others in my situation. I would definitely encourage you to make every effort to do it, though! It is also fantastic that your mother is coming and that you will be able to take trips to the US.
Regarding the anger and frustration at others interacting in Spanish...I totally understand it. Us ml speakers tend to get very frustrated at every ML interruption to our ml plans! As for the narration, I think I want to do more than I do, so end up feeling guilty, which isn't good either! I don't have any solutions really, other to say that I suppose we have to try to enjoy the ml journey more and remember that it is supposed to be about pleasure and communication.
Haha yes Raquel, that's a good way of looking at it - as you say, it does mean your daughter is listening!
Not much to report here really, other than a vague feeling that I have to step up my efforts! I think I have become a bit complacent of late. I have been away for work twice and of course that makes for many hours less of exposure in ml1. My daughter still speaks in ml1 to me, but I just have this feeling that I should be doing more!
One area that I think we could be doing better on with my daughter is word retrieval and vocabulary generally. She often inserts words in either ML or ml2 into a conversation in ml1, just because it is easier. I have been doing regular reading, with new books that we borrowed from the library, and that will hopefully help.
I've been stepping up trying to read to my son but am still unsuccessful most of the time. He just won't sit still! So I keep reading with him crawling around me, but it's rather demotivating! He is not yet speaking, but he seems to be starting to understand some very simple instructions (although it's touch-and-go).
The October holidays are coming up - last week I enrolled my daughter for a half-day bilingual ML-ml1 music camp for the first week of the holidays, then just today I received a message about a full-day ml2 one taking place the same week. Too late I guess! The good thing is that the music camp has Latin America as its theme, so even if there is no real ml2 involved, it will be related, culturally-speaking!
We also booked a weekend trip to London in November. I had accepted an invitation to attend a friend's birthday party, then I had a bit of a heart attack when I went to book the tickets and saw how expensive it was! Hopefully it will be worth it as I don't think we will be able to repeat the experience regularly at those prices!
Otherwise, in the next couple of weeks I have to knuckle down and start applying for a new school for my daughter. It tires me in advance just thinking of it! One of the schools has a particularly protracted applications process, and I am really not sure how my daughter will react. The other day, I took her to the doctor for a check-up and she totally clammed up, so I can't guarantee she will speak even if there is a not a language issue per se.
Amy - my daughter is in an hors contrat (independent) school and I would rather move her to a sous-contrat (semi-independent) or public school for all the reasons you can imagine! After CP, it will be a lot harder to move her until secondary school (because most of the schools will not have openings), so we really only have this year and the next. Unfortunately, as you know it is very hard to get places in bilingual programmes in sous-contrat and public schools - demand far outweighs the supply!
It really sounds as though your daughter (in fact, both of them) are making such good progress Amy! Congratulations, it is really due to all your work. I'm so inspired by you!
Re the writing before reading in France, I think you got that from me :-) during a discussion we were having on handwriting. Actually writing before reading is also the norm in Montessori schools. Your daughter's handwriting is definitely SOOOO cute!
I can understand feeling overwhelmed. We have to start applying for schools for my daughter this year (she will have to change either next year or the year after) and I feel exhausted and tired just thinking of having to go through the whole testing process.
Hi Marie, I would say the benefits of memorising poems is two-fold: educational because it develops certain skills (obviously memory, but also language, rhythm, etc) and cultural (because children - or adults for that matter - develop a body of cultural works that they know and can refer to (and separate into different genres - there's obviously a big difference between the Fables de La Fontaine and Jacques Prévert. You will notice no doubt that most of the poetry to be memorised is from the French 'canon'.)
I really used to love reciting poetry at school as my teachers would encourage us to be creative, so that's a benefit, too.
As for how to remember it...my daughter just started this year with poems for homework and basically they have already learnt them at school so she just needs to practice, so I don't have much experience. I would probably go with reading the sentence and having them repeat back, and gradually building up the sentences (because this is how I learnt them myself), but as your daughter can read perhaps you could read it with her together?
Patricia - I agree with Amy that your children will pick up pronunciation at school and that audiobooks are not ideal or necessary. I also think the main issue is for your children to develop a love of reading (which can happen through your ml).
I do think, however, that there is a big difference between a child who is learning in a language that they don't master in their early years of education, and the experience of a child who has a firm grounding in reading and schooling prior to acquiring the second and third languages (this was also my case). In my professional life, one of the areas that I work on is 'mother tongue' education (funny, huh, given my personal concerns?!). Basically, research shows very clearly that putting young children to learn in a language that they do not master, and expecting them to just 'pick up' the language without effort being put into actually teaching the language, results in lower learning achievements down the line. This is a big problem in many former colonies, where children turn up for their first day of school aged 6 or so, speaking their local language, and are suddenly plunged into an "elite language" environment with very little support. The educational consequences (across all areas, including things like maths that at first glance may not seem related) are disastrous. This is why many countries have moved to teaching children through the first years of school and learning to read in their native language, and gradually introducing and building up the number of hours in the "elite language". It's very different when a child is slightly older and has already acquired the basics.
I'm not saying this to scare you, as your situation (with a highly literate ml home environment) is quite different from that of an average family in a former colony. I also don't think you need to suddenly infuse your home with ML. But I do think it is important to do as much ml reading as possible (much of what is learnt will be transferable across the languages) and to ensure that if your children do fall significantly behind other children in ML development (which I actually think is pretty unlikely) that you find ways to address it. I think if there is a problem, the teachers will tell you very quickly, so if there isn't, there is no reason to worry!
Hi Amy, I don't have a 6-year-old, but I think most of those mistakes are normal. I don't think a 6-year-old (monolingual) with particularly sophisticated language skills would make them, but I would probably expect some of them of an average child.
The only exceptions I would make is for the verb changing with an s, which I suspect is not that usual (although totally understandable in your daughter's case!), and the 'what', which is a direct translation from your ML and ml2 (my daughter does it too - sure, she's younger, but I'm not expecting her to overcome it anytime soon).
For those who are interested in what mistakes a child with French as a ML might make (in French), my 4-year-old is constantly using "qu'est-ce que" instead of "ce que" (i.e. "Regarde qu'est-ce que j'ai fait"). It drives me crazy because I can't say anything (as I don't speak to her in ML) and my husband never seems to be bothered by it!
My advice would be to rephrase the sentence correctly ("oh, he wantS this?"), as this won't hinder the conversation or frustrate her, but still allow you to correct her gently. I'm sure you already know this but it's always good to repeat it!
We do a somewhat messy form of OPOL (my husband speaks in ML, I speak in ml1, the nanny speaks in ml2, but we all speak ml1 at the dinner table and regularly speak ml2 when an ml2 speaker is around). My husband reads mostly in ML but also sometimes ml1 or ml2, I read mostly ml1 or ml2 but never ML. The advantage is that we probably read more than we would otherwise, because we want to ensure we get enough reading in in the 3 languages! I do think it's important to read in all the languages your child is learning, but it doesn't have to be you: as others have said, you could consider having a relative, friend or babysitter come over regularly to do it.
Amy: And to all other fellow zookeepers of course!
Nov 4, 2018 18:13:28 GMT 9
Wojtek: Yesterday my daughter used a Polish word in an English sentence. From time to time she does it (don't know if I should be happy about that), but anyway what was amusing about that, she said it with an English accent!
Nov 5, 2018 18:23:45 GMT 9
Wojtek: I feel the English accent in our monolingual family has seemed to be something unreachable but in that mixed sentence, I heard the difference. It surprised me slightly.
Nov 5, 2018 18:23:55 GMT 9
Amy: So cute Wojtek! And such a lovely piece of news!
Nov 7, 2018 6:29:36 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nice Wojtek! Give that little girl a big hug from Uncle Adam!
Nov 7, 2018 10:16:33 GMT 9