Thanks Adam and Raquel! Yes it's funny - I really was finding it SO hard to believe that things could turn around and yet they really have! And a funny story: this afternoon when I picked my daughter up, I asked her what languages the other children at the 'camp' spoke, and she said "French and English". So I said, "Oh, like you!". And she replied: "NO, not like me - I speak English and French AND SPANISH". What a difference to six months ago when she announced to me that she ONLY spoke Spanish!
Tomorrow, if I can find the energy (!), I will go to visit the specialised ml1 library. I'm really hesitating because apparently there is a public library specialised in languages that will open up soon near where I live. I wish I had a better idea of just how many resources they will have, so that I could decide whether it really is worth paying for the private one.
Thanks for the positive comments Amy and Alison! I have to admit that I myself am shocked by the transformation. 😀 It really does go to show that persistence pays off...and that we should never let ourselves get discouraged!
Well unfortunately the ml2 holiday programme did end up being cancelled. I am disappointed of course, but am trying to look on the positive side. I found a half-day bilingual (ml1 and ML) music camp and got a last-minute place for my daughter. Apparently the other children enrolled are all 5 (she is 3), so I hope this won’t pose a problem - the camp was advertised for 3-6 year-olds so I guess they should adapt. Apparently they have one ML facilitator and one ml1 one - I hope my daughter migrated to the ml1 one, and also that the other children have a good level of ml1. We’ll see I guess! The advantage is that it’s only half-days, so the rest of the day she can spend with me and have more ml1. So that’s something!
I’m also trying to decide whether to join up to a specialised ml1 library here. It is expensive and not the most practical. But it would give us access to so many more ml1 resources...so maybe I will give it a go. I think I will go visit it in the next few days and see what I feel when I see it in person.
Just a quick comment about the book choices - I loved the Famous Five as a kid (although I think I was a bit older than your children, maybe 7-8). If you're looking for books by Enid Blyton, one series that I also loved and is targeted at younger readers were the Wishing Chair adventures. I can't much remember what they were about, but I know I enjoyed them very much!
I really have to work out how to use the quotes function on my phone!
Amy - yes you are right, we need some new books! Going to the library is on my to-do list this week. I have definitely noticed that my daughter thrives on novelty too. As for your question about how much of the time she speaks to me in ml1 now, I would say 95%! It is rare that she will speak to me in ML, and when she does I sort of look at her and say "Sorry? What's that?" and she will try to say it in English.
So that is just such amazing progress. I wish I had a better idea of her level compared to a monolingual speaker. I suspect she is not quite at the level of most children of her age and social background, and she has a slight accent (maybe it is more of an intonation), but she is certainly doing very well. I wonder how things will progress in the next few years!
I am a bit disappointed today because I signed my daughter up for an ml2 holiday programme next week, and apparently it is very likely that it will be cancelled due to there not being enough enrolments. I was really thinking that my daughter would benefit so much from it, so this is a bit of a last-minute setback and doesn't give me much time to decide on another option. There are several ml1 holiday programmes, but most of them are only half-days and on the other side of the city, which is not the most practical for me - especially with a little baby who I have to take with me everywhere. So I'm hesitating. I'm considering just keeping her with me, as I can provide the ml1 input (for free!). But then she misses out on the social dimension and hearing others speak. Actually, for ml1 it bothers me less at this point as there are more opportunities, but it's rather hard to find ml2 opportunities!
Last week was a good one for the mls, because my husband was away so there was no ML at home. Also, as there was a lot of snow, I kept my daughter home on Wednesday, so we had extra time together. On Saturday, I took both children to a workshop for « bilingual » (French-Spanish) children that I had seen was being started by a parent. The children were aged 2-4, and for the most part not speaking much, but they could clearly understand Spanish. I was a bit disappointed as my daughter became so shy the moment we stepped in the door and basically refused to say anything. But at least she was exposed to more people, including children, speaking ml2, and in a different setting.
Otherwise, I haven’t been very conscientious about reading in the last few days. Of course I’m still doing some, but not as much as I could. I have felt very tired and not so motivated. Hopefully it is just a blip!
Noemi, in my household we were OPOL from the birth of my daughter, with a third language being the ML when she was aged 1-3. Basically, I spoke English to my daughter, my husband spoke French to her, and we were living in a Spanish-speaking country. My husband and I spoke French to each other. Since we moved back to France, I realised that although it was wonderful to hear my daughter making so much progress in French all of a sudden, her English needed a kickstart. As I did not think it was realistic for us to suddenly shift totally to English at home, I decided to make a rule that mealtimes would be only in English. The difference was astounding! At first my daughter was horrified to hear her father speaking English, but now she has accepted it and even enjoys it, I think. In addition, we often carry over into English after the meal - my husband now feels more comfortable doing so too.
Anyway, the point of the story is to say that it is a bit odd making a shift, but doing it at defined times at first is definitely helpful and takes the pressure off, while you get used to it. We also instituted a rule that we would point and make a funny noise if anyone spoke French at the table. Funnily enough, we hardly ever have to do this anymore as everyone is now automatically using English!
Marie - the good thing is that Spanish is a not-too-difficult transition from French, I think. It is different enough not to create confusion (as could be the case with Italian or Portuguese), but similar enough that it is fairly easy to learn for someone who speaks French. I think that generally, if you speak French, you can get to the point in Spanish where you can read a newspaper article, for instance, fairly quickly, which means that for French speakers it is a language that one can "enjoy" within a fairly rapid time span. This helps a lot with motivation! So if your daughter is interested, why not? You could always give it a go.
How does it work at your daughter's school - presumably they have to pick another language when they are 11 or so? Or is that English? At my (French) school, when we were in the first year of secondary school, all the other children started with English. But as I was a native speaker, another parent in the class (whose daughter already spoke good English) suggested that we ask the school to allow the two of us to do Spanish as our "first living language" instead. So we had a small class of just two! Then for the second "living language" (which started two years later), everyone else was doing Spanish so we did German. Unfortunately my German never took off as much, although I am glad to sitll have a basis - very weak, but better than nothing.
Marie - if your kids go to a French/bilingual school up to university, I don’t think they will forget it. Between the ages of 18 and 23 I only spoke French maybe 2 or 3 times (and between 16 and 18 I only had 8 hours a week in school in French). At 24 I was in Europe and met some French people, and started speaking it again (hadn’t forgotten anything - it just took me a few days to twist my mouth around the sounds again, so that I could pronounce words correctly). At 25 I did a postgraduate degree in France (in the humanities, so requiring a lot of writing). So I think that if you can keep it up until the end of secondary school, they will be fine!
Today the Wednesday ml2 nanny came and coincidentally so did the first issue of my daughter’s ml2 magazine! I was pleased to see that she enjoyed it very much - I had wondered as it is billed as being for age 4+, and she is only 3 and obviously not a native speaker. But she loved it! She is obsessed with wolves at the moment and one of the stories featured one, which no doubt helped!
I also noticed that she seems to be speaking in more complicated sentences than previously. In particular, I noticed her using different verb tenses correctly - such as the imperfect, conjugated properly. Of course she makes many other mistakes, but this progress did strike me. I’m wondering how it has happened as she has not had enough exposure in ml2 recently for it to be just a question of exposure. So I’m wondering whether it’s a more of a shift that she’s making in ML and ml1 too, due to generally growing older and having a better understanding of how languages works, and that is also reflected in her oral expression in ml2.
Marie - from what I have read, the “danger period” for forgetting a language is before puberty. So if you can keep it up until then, it should be easier to maintain afterwards! It is something that I think about quite a lot. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, a few weeks ago I saw a message on an expats’ forum from a mother who had moved back from Paris to the US, and two months later her 3-year-old son had practically forgotten all his previous ML. To be honest I found it quite sad as many people assumed she wanted tips about how to keep it up, but it turned out that her and her husband had just accepted that their son would lose it and she was just expressing her surprise at how quickly it had gone. I couldn’t help but think “what a shame”...but obviously different families have different priorities! In any case, it certainly reinforced my determination to invest energy (and let’s face it, money!) in keeping up my daughter’s languages.
Raquel - yes it is wonderful being able to learn from and support each other through this forum! Your comment also made me happy because it really made me realise that we are well and truly on the right track! What a difference in six months...it just goes to show that the result of our efforts may not be immediately apparent but they do show up in the end!
Marie - right now I am on maternity leave so I can pick my daughter up earlier than I will be able to once I start working again in a few months. This means that we can read a lot more than usual! I would say that it varies a lot, but in general I have been reading one book in the morning before school and about four or five in the evening including bedtime. Say a total of two in Spanish and four in English. Beforehand, we were doing one at bedtime, alternating English and French, and one or two others....most days. So this has been quite an increase, with the extra English ones and the addition of the Spanish. The books are also more sophisticated. Unfortunately once I start work again it will be very hard to keep this up!
I am quite excited today because in an attempt to keep up/improve my own ml2, I subscribed to a ml2 news/fashion magazine and today I received the first one! I figure that it will allow me to practice in an “enjoyable” way - it is pitched at an educated public but has a good mix of serious and non-serious articles. If I keep it up, I also believe that as my children get older and start to learn to read, it will help for them to see different types of ml literature around the house, and although I have tons of ml1 books, I am unlikely to start buying books (for me) in ml2. So this is a good solution I believe!
Otherwise, yesterday the ml2 nanny spent the afternoon with my daughter. I have really noticed a big difference over the past 1-2 weeks in her confidence in ml2 - now she is really back to feeling happy to chat along with ml2 speakers in full sentences. She’s perhaps not quite as talkative as she was before we left Chile, but that is possibly an age thing too. The main thing is that she really seems to be enjoying it. I’m just so happy (relieved!) about the situation - just this morning I was chatting to the mother of a little boy at my daughter’s school - the family moved from the US about two months ago and apparently he is now really rejecting English (both parents are French). So I'm glad we seem to have avoided that situation - I think it was quite a close shave!
My daughter’s ml1 is also coming along - she is still talking almost exclusively to me in ml1 and asking to read books constantly. She now seems to think it normal to hear people speaking in ml1 and especially children, which is helping. It is wonderful hearing her switch languages so easily.
As I mentioned earlier, but I want to say it again as it does seem to have been a sort of magic bullet, I think in both cases, having decided to put more emphasis on reading at home has been critical in fostering interest in the mls. Several times now my daughter has used expressions in both mls that come directly from the books we have been reading. And I can see that she is just so excited by the stories. Yesterday, I also talked to a friend who has five (!) children aged 2-15. They are a ml at home family. But she said the one thing that has made a big difference to the children’s level in the ml is really reading. Of course. I always read before too, but now we are doing a lot more of it. For me, reading is something that I can do in both mls that feels productive and absolutely requires me to be fully present with the children. So for those reasons also, it’s wonderful and I will now be making it even more of a priority!
My daughter’s (3y) lunch break is also from 11.30-1.30. I think they eat during that time, rest and play outside in the small courtyard. Having said that I’m not sure - I do wish I could be a fly on the wall sometimes!
Adam, great idea! I am starting to look forward to when my daughter will be able to read!
Raquel - maybe I should send a message before the next playgroup. Unfortunately as it's not at my place, and I'm the least legitimate person there (in the sense of not being a native or close-to-native level speaker), I feel a bit awkward imposing rules! As you say, however, the most important thing is definitely having the children realise that others speak the language. So it's definitely worth it!
Re the school day, my daughter has a two-hour lunch and currently (age 3) finishes at 4.30, with optional after school care until 6. When I was 11 or so at a French school, we finished at 5 or 6 every day. It’s true that it’s long, but then again the lunch is long and there are lots of holidays.
Marie - that story about your Dutch friend is priceless!
Thanks for the tips about the flash cards and audiobooks. I will check out the one you mentioned. And the games definitely sound good too, once she is a little older. I’m definitely planning on an “only screen time in the mls will be allowed” policy. 😀
Raquel - I’m glad that you manage to implement the “no ML rule” in your playgroup! To me it seems so obvious, especially as I have always been so clear that I should only speak the ml with my daughter, and I assumed everyone thought the same. So I was quite surprised at the number of parents who seemed to have a more “fluid” approach to this! I guess different things work for different families - but I did feel a bit silly telling the children “in ml please” when not all the parents were doing the same! Oh well. I suppose it’s better than nothing!
Oh dear, that does sound like a lot of work Mayken! I find it so confusing as I’d understood that homework was banned in primary but all the children seem to have a lot of it! I really don’t know how parents get the time to do that after getting home from work...sigh. It will definitely make it harder to find time for the ml homework too. Although maybe the trick is to get into a routine of doing both at the same time.
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Amy: Just received your novel Adam, just in time for the weekend! I already read 3 chapters and am loving the style! Congrats!
Feb 10, 2018 6:25:05 GMT 9
Adam Beck: That's so nice to hear, Amy! I look forward to more impressions as you continue reading!
Feb 10, 2018 10:46:14 GMT 9
Mayken: After writing a letter in the ML to her new friend for whom it is the ml, my daughter is now on the phone with her friend from ml country. (And hiding in her room with my phone. No more phone cords to hold her back.)
Feb 11, 2018 23:13:29 GMT 9
Nellie: Book ordered Adam!
Feb 15, 2018 6:20:36 GMT 9
Nellie: Mayken - so cute! The terrible teens are approaching!
Feb 15, 2018 6:21:21 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Nellie, thank you! I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your impressions!
Feb 15, 2018 6:34:04 GMT 9
Wojtek: I found sample Eiken tests on grade 5 and 4 (There was Adam's article) and did the first part with my daughter (20 questions). On Grade 5 she did 16 of 20 correctly and on grade 4: 12 of 20. Not so bad though. She failed those where grammar was included.
Feb 15, 2018 20:43:25 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, your daughter is still very young so I would say those are really positive results! Your efforts are clearly producing a lot of progress. Good for you, and good for your daughter!
Feb 16, 2018 7:52:23 GMT 9
Undraa: A big congrats from my end to you for your new book Adam!
Feb 16, 2018 16:50:56 GMT 9
Wojtek: Big thanks, Adam. Those tests on grade 5 are so basic but anyway they prove that my girl understands them and knows the answers. That was quite interesting experience.
Feb 16, 2018 16:54:32 GMT 9
Wojtek: Congratulations on your book, Adam! I read the beginning on Amazon and as always I have the impression you took several pages from the dictionary with a range of sophisticated words and just put them in. That's why the book will be very valuable for me.
Feb 16, 2018 17:01:19 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wojtek, thanks! Even if you're unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary, I think the lively story will carry you through the book. I hope you enjoy it, and also find it useful for your English!
Feb 16, 2018 18:43:12 GMT 9
Dani: Hi everyone, It has been a while... Congrats on your new book Adam! Would love to get a copy too.
Feb 17, 2018 8:30:36 GMT 9