That is indeed great Marie! It would be so helpful to put the finger on just why your daughter has so embraced French...maybe it is because she feels some sense of pride to show her skills to you, particularly as you are learning at the same time? Maybe it is extra motivation somehow? What is her general personality like?
Raffaela - my parents don't speak a word of French. I went to a French school (maternelle) in Australia from ages 3-5 (the kids were mostly Australian but the teachers were all French), then had two years in a regular English-speaking school from ages 5-7. At 7, I started at a bilingual school (50/50) that followed the French national programme, where I had special catch-up classes for a year - I stayed there until I was 11. Most of the students were Australian so the playground language was English, but the classes were evenly divided between the two languages. From 11-14, I was at a fully French school (in India though, so the majority language of the country was not French) and that is when I really became confident, because the playground language was French so I was forced to use it outside an academic context. I then spent 6 months in France at age 15, living with a French family. From 16-18 I was in a mostly English school, but did do the French literature and philosophy classes (I sat the exams of the French baccalaureate for those subjects - for the other subjects I did the International Baccalaureate).
I then did undergraduate studies in English and later a Master 2 degree (what they used to call a DEA) in France.
I would say I had a good basis by age 11 (could understand everything), but I really only started to speak well by age 12 - after a year at the fully French school in India. I remember spending at least 3 months not talking and shocking everyone when I finally opened my mouth! After that it was very quick and by 12/13 there was no difference between me and the other kids - in terms of speaking or writing.
So it was 100% due to schooling. My parents would never have had enough money to take us to a French-speaking country (air tickets were a lot more expensive back then!) and the sorts of resources that exist now (internet, even magazines...) were unavailable. There are so many more opportunities out there now!
Welcome Loz! I'm also from Australia although I haven't lived there for many years.
In my experience, to put it briefly, that is probably not enough exposure in the long run (unless by "a few hours in the morning" you mean a few genuine hours of interaction - if so, I imagine you're waking up very early!), BUT, from what I understand, once your child is two you will be able to find another solution? If that is the case, I wouldn't worry too much and would focus on providing sustained exposure in the mornings, on the weekend, through music, holidays, visits from grandparents and friends, etc. Basically you are talking about 15 months or so of solid exposure to Japanese during the week, then after that more of a balance, which I think should be ok - particularly if you can do a few hours in the morning in the meantime. Whatever you do, as long as you provide regular exposure, your child will at least develop a strong passive understanding of English, which will lay the foundation for active speaking at some point!
You didn't mention your home set-up - are you raising your child alone or with someone, and if so is that person an English or Japanese speaker? If your home environment can be all-English (not my case) that will change things significantly.
I'm looking forward to reading what others think! None of us have 'perfect' set-ups but those with older children say that the efforts we make over the years do bear fruit, so it's worth persisting! Also, for a 'positive' story, I myself didn't have any exposure at all to French until I was 3, then had no exposure between the ages of 5-7, and French people always assume I'm French, so not everything is 'decided' before the age of 3.
Welcome Megan! What beautiful pictures of your baby.
There are a couple of Arabic speakers on this form who will be able to help with that side of things - I believe you are the first one I've seen dealing with Assyrian!
I also found it strange talking in English to my daughter at first, but it did come back quickly and now I can't imagine anything else. In any case, it's wonderful that you're being so proactive. I am sure your background will help immensely.
I look forward to interacting with you on this forum as your baby grows!
Karen - do your kids ever speak Arabic with you or anyone else? I'm asking because my daughter always responds in Spanish, even if the person she is speaking to doesn't speak a word of it. For instance, my mother came to visit for 10 days and the whole time, my daughter only spoke in Spanish to her (my mother is totally monolingual English...and we told my daughter this many times!). Since we have moved to France (3 weeks ago), my daughter just clams up anytime she is expected to say anything in either French or English. For example, we were at a café the other day and the waiter brought her a glass of water, so I asked her to say thank you (which she is quite capable of saying in French and English). When she refused, I asked her why and she said "yo hablo español".
Anyway, the point of this story is to say that maybe there is some issue about shyness/timidity in expressing themselves in the ml for the moment? I do think pretending your nanny doesn't understand Arabic is a great idea (please let us know how it works!), but I also wanted to say that creating need and desire seems to be a pretty common challenge...I guess we just need to persevere! Sorry, this isn't a very helpful post but I felt compelled to respond!
Hi Cameron, congrats on your baby! It is wonderful that you are having time just with June. There are others on here who are non-native speakers and will be able to give extra tips in that regard, but it looks as though you do have a lot going for you! The great thing in the US is that Spanish resources are everywhere, which will be good motivation - for her and for you! As for quiet moments, this is something I struggle with as I naturally prefer to observe children rather than talk non-stop, and I also prize independence and independent play, which do require quiet moments! I try to compensate by ensuring that when I speak (which I obviously do a lot of too ), I try to do so as 'well' as possible, using diverse vocabulary and so on. And of course we read regularly too. We don't have a television and haven't started screentime yet, and I'm not sure whether that is helping or hindering things - I'm not formally opposed to it but just have never felt the need or desire so far, so am waiting until she asks (which I assume will be soon!).
I have to say that, so far, for us, the group environment (daycare) has 'trumped' mamá and papa in terms of stimulating motivation to speak in my daughter. She is almost three and basically speaks only in ML (Spanish) despite the fact that she never heard a word of ML before she turned 12 months, was only in a part-time daycare in ML starting at 12 months and was with ml1 (her father and nanny) and ml2 (me) speakers the rest of the time (I say 'was' because we moved countries and switched MLs two weeks ago). However, (1) she understands everything in both mls, and I'm becoming ever-more confident that she will soon start speaking, and (2), her Spanish is really very good for a child her age. This is obviously nothing to do with either her father or me, as we have never spoken or provided any resources in Spanish to her (on the contrary, we were very opposed to the idea of doing so, so she never even heard Spanish songs in our house), but it does indicate to me that if a child sees a language as 'fun' (she loved her daycare), and there is peer pressure (with other children), they will pick it up very well! So you should definitely enrol your daughter in the bilingual school when she gets old enough, and if you can find Spanish playgroups in the meantime you should see whether you can enrol her!
I think the answer is very dependent on what exposure you yourself can provide, but also what you are able to spend. I can see myself spending a lot in the coming years, but I have friends with older children who just don't have the funds to spend any extra and have nonetheless managed to bring up totally bilingual children, because their circumstances facilitated it. For instance, a friend who is a single mother's son speaks only in ml to her, because they spend so much time alone together! I on the other hand have a handicap because I am bilingual myself, and my daughter knows this, so I have to make an extra effort to get her to speak ml2 as the 'need' is just not there with me.
So personally I have to admit that I've spent quite a lot and probably will continue to do so. My perspective is that in my case, the choices I've made in that regard are not only for the language aspects, but also the overall quality of the educational experience.
For example, to date, so far my biggest expense has been a ml1 nanny, part-time. A ML nanny or just all-day crèche (if I could have gotten a place) would have been about half the price, but not only would the ML have been even more dominant, but I also think that the type of nanny I would have been able to hire would have been, in the end, less stimulating for my daughter. So it was a sort of win-win in that sense.
I considered enrolling my daughter in group ml2 classes on the weekend last year but decided not to at this stage due to the cost (it seemed like an awful lot of money for a one-hour class per week) and because I figured that that was time I could spend with her and thus provide her with the input directly.
Starting from September, my costs will escalate significantly however, because my daughter will start at a fee-paying bilingual school. Language played a big role in this decision, even though for practical reasons we may have had to go down that route anyway (we have just moved countries and don't have an apartment yet, so enrolment at a public school was going to be an extra stress without having an address!). Once she turns 5, my employer will pay for most of the fees, which means that this is really a temporary expense - I'm very lucky in that regard.
In addition, I am planning on hiring a language nanny to take care of my daughter once a week - again, I would have had to hire a nanny anyway, but the one I am choosing will be more expensive than a regular one would have been.
Other costs are: magazine subscriptions, books (so far these have only been a slight added expense in comparison to everything else - it's possible to get them cheaply) and travel (but that is non-negotiable as it's to see family).
I'm expecting that these costs will grow as my daughter gets older, but for me it is definitely worth it. However, it is certainly possible to reduce them substantially or find ways around them! My aim has been to try to substitute ML experiences for ml ones - for instance, I haven't found it yet, but I would love to find a ml swimming instructor for my daughter. If she takes up a musical instrument when she's older, same thing. I figure this would "kill two birds with one stone"!
Thanks Amy, that is definitely really helpful! Of the two agency names you sent to me, I went for the one that only accepts native speakers (they were the first to get back to me haha!), so that is good - the person they have selected is Mexican. Still, it is always a good idea to check the level anyway as you never know! I definitely don't want errors to be passed on - especially as my own level of Spanish is not good enough to be able to discern mistakes like that. It is indeed quite amazing that the agency didn't check the CV and level of the person they sent to you first!
I will put the questions on my list!
This is a tangential question but I am wondering how they deal with differences between Spanish from Spain and from different Latin American countries. Not so much as regards vocabulary, but more use of 'ustedes'/´vosotros' and simple past vs passé composé (can't remember what this is called in English as I never learnt English grammar!). It's not a big deal and I don't mind which one my daughter learns, as she can learn the differences later on, but it did occur to me. Right now she says 'ustedes' to her father and me, as is normal in Latin America, and I find it quite hilarious as it seems so formal for a 2 year-old compared to the 'vosotros' I learnt at school!
Well, we have now moved and our languages are switching places! I'll keep the ML and mls right now as they are in my profile, because of the circumstances that I'll describe below, but I'll change them at the beginning of the school year!
We arrived in Paris on Monday and I started my new job on Tuesday. Quite strange for me to all of a sudden be switching to English and French at work! In order to ease the transition, we have hired a native Spanish (Latin American) speaker to take care of our daughter from 9-3 every weekday until she starts school in September. I'm really glad we decided to do so, as she seems a bit shaken by the move and sudden separation from her friends, and she is clearly very, very happy to be able to speak in her favourite language with someone who actually speaks it back to her!
We have taken her to the park and she seems thrown by the fact that the other children are speaking French. The first day she spent most of the time sitting next to us on the bench; on subsequent days she has tried to socialise but she continues to try to communicate in Spanish with the other children, which makes them either just stare back at her or run away! It will take a bit of time I guess.
Anyway, the reason that I'm writing is that we are hiring (via an agency) a babysitter to look after her every Wednesday afternoon. Unlike the babysitter she has currently, which is just 'fun', the Wednesday one is supposed to be a sort of ''pedagogical" babysitter who will develop her Spanish skills through a method developed by the agency (so more structured, but still play-based).
I have a first interview with a possible babysitter next week, via skype. Would you have any advice on questions I should ask or how I should conduct the interview? There will be an in-person one later down the track (these interviews are arranged by the agency, so the major issues e.g. qualifications, security training etc are all taken care of by them). Thanks!
Marie - it's so good to read about the progress your daughter is making!
My daughter's new school will be half the day in English and half in French for the first two years, then it moves to 40/60 for Grande Section (age 5).
At the school I went to, in primary we had half the day in English and half in French, then in secondary it moved to certain subjects being in French (French, maths, science and history-geography) and the other four subjects (English, sport, foreign language and optional subject) being in English. On the other hand, lots of bilingual schools in France only have one hour or so of English per day - mostly due to how heavy the school programme is, I think. And Montessori schools tend to have both an English ans a French teacher in the classroom at all times. So there are definitely lots of ways of doing it!
Claudia - your examples of the discrepancy between how 'people' and 'colonel' are written and spoken are exactly why I would be reluctant to teach a child to read before he or she has a firm grasp of oral comprehension and expression. By far the most important foundation for literacy is being able to speak and understand well - letters are a fairly automatic and 'easy' thing in comparison that most children acquire with very little difficulty. Many parents understandably want their children to read as soon as possible because they (again, understandably) believe that this will set them up well for later academic success, but in fact the opposite is true - very early reading is in many cases correlated with learning difficulties later down the track. In fact, here in Chile where I live the Ministry of Education has recently issued a press release asking daycare centres (for children aged 4 and below) and parents to STOP trying to teach children to read but rather to wait until the more developmentally-appropriate age of 5-6, as it is causing so much harm.
I know that you're not thinking about actually teaching reading but rather letters, but just to say that you should keep in mind that at this stage the focus is best placed on broader language skills. Letters can be a fun 'game' but they will really not be crucial for some time, and knowing them is really not a particularly big accomplishment compared to being able to speak/understand/use appropriate grammar, which is far more difficult! It's a bit like being able to recite (or recognise) the numbers 1-10 but not really understanding the concept of 'quantities'. So I would say to let your daughter have fun with the Spanish sounds/letters if she enjoys it, but I don't think you need to worry about the English aspect of things at this stage - she will learn the English 'names' later (in fact, presumably children in English-speaking Montessori schools are in the exact same boat because they also don't learn the names, just the sounds, right?). If you're looking for other ways of fostering early literacy skills, games like being able to recognise identical images (or that two images are actually not identical because of small differences) are probably more valuable at your daughter's age as they will hone recognition and discrimination skills. Added bonus: Images will provide more for you to talk about with your child (thus helping her language skills in Spanish!) than letters!
On another note, I am guessing that all of us, in our adult lives, have discovered that a word we had only ever read but never heard is pronounced very differently to how we had been 'sounding' it in our heads for many years! But once you find out, then you know and can adapt.
In any case, you sound like a great mother and I'm sure your child will thrive no matter the order in which she learns things!
Good point Amy! I also read an article (I think as part of that British Council course?) that was saying that when you read the same book over, you are also more likely to stop and discuss the pictures more, because you are so bored of the text haha! Apparently this is also very helpful.
Welcome Jonathan! I'll leave others with older children to reply to your specific question, but just to say that I have the exact same issue with my almost 3-year-old daughter! She replies consistently in ML even though I have always spoken ml2 to her (and her father ml1). To the extent that tonight, her father was singing a ml1 song to her, leaving pauses for her to chime in with key words. Well, she actually sang the key words at the appropriate moments - translated into ML! It is very frustrating but we are trying to persevere and most importantly make the mls fun for her, rather than a chore.
It's great that you've read Adam's book, which is full of excellent advice, and joined this forum - you will find that everyone here is very helpful! I personally have felt a lot more motivated since joining it and have been given a lots of tips and encouragement that have made the whole process far more pleasant for everyone in the family. The main thing I've learnt is that persistence pays off, and the results of efforts that you made now may not be seen immediately but rather in a year or two (or more) so it is worth continuing! Understanding comes before expression - so keep reading and speaking!
Amy - your first story made me laugh for a number of reasons which I won't go into here, but suffice it to say that I could just imagine the scene! So good that your husband was able to turn the situation into a learning opportunity for your daughter (btw, out of interest, how did the boy's father react?)!
Tonight we had drinks at a neighbour's place as a sort of farewell, and my daughter was far more shy at speaking (ML) than she is normally. I realised that she really feels a lot happier talking with other children than with adults. So it seems as though finding opportunities for children to speak with other children (especially if they can feel responsible for 'teaching' them, as was the case wifh your daughter), is definitely key!
I echo everything Amy says. Just wanted to say also that I have a Norwegian colleague whose children follow some internet-based programme run by the Norwegian government to foster language sklls among children with Norwegian heritage living abroad. I guess it is for much older chidlren but good to know it exists!
Oh that's really helpful Amy, thanks! For some reason I just saw your message...
We are moving in a week now so things are really speeding up!
What's on your mind right now? Just type and hit "Enter" to share it here!
Amy: Caught my eldest bragging to her cousin she could speak ml2 and asked him in ml2 if they could continue playing in this language....could it be my daughter is slowly accepting the fact she's bilingual and happy to be so...??
Jul 31, 2017 5:07:41 GMT 9
Mayken: Not all fun after all - we were at a castle today with an amazing 3h treasure hunt, but it was all in ML. My daughter did lots of ML reading (clues), but no chance of slipping ml in.
Aug 1, 2017 4:13:44 GMT 9
Mayken: Welcome back, Adam! We kept the zoo running while you were away and even swept up the monkey droppings!
Aug 2, 2017 18:26:12 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Well done, Mayken! Many thanks! (I was afraid I would be overwhelmed by the monkey droppings.)
Aug 3, 2017 6:18:08 GMT 9
Amy: My turn to disappear for a few weeks! Off to ml1 country with very high expectations as to the benefits of ml1 family bonding and ml1 exposure for my 2 girls! Have a lovely month of August everybody ! xxx
Aug 6, 2017 4:58:35 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Amy, have a really fun and fruitful time!
Aug 6, 2017 6:30:06 GMT 9
Nellie: Welcome back Adam and have a great time Amy!
Aug 9, 2017 5:37:45 GMT 9
Ahmet: Hey Adam! Thank you very much for writing such a nice book. I've read it , took lots and lots of notes. It's full of precious information about raising a bilingual kid. It helped me a lot and still keeps me on my way. goo.gl/photos/oPyfKffApeWPB9eU
Aug 11, 2017 7:34:44 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Ahmet, I loved seeing this photo of my book! Thanks so much! Would you mind if I shared it? And I'd be really grateful if you would leave a review at Amazon or elsewhere online.
Aug 11, 2017 8:54:39 GMT 9
Ahmet: Hi Adam, of course you may share the photo. By the way I already left a review at Goodreads and Amazon and I will continue to share info about your book.
Aug 13, 2017 17:34:53 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Ahmet, thanks a lot for your support!
Aug 13, 2017 18:14:01 GMT 9