I thought that, even though we did not discuss much that was "new", it is always so good to speak to like-minded people and be reminded of aspects one may have neglected recently. Hope others can join in the future, too!
Hi Martina, I wanted to echo Amy's comment. Here in the US they are very quick to advise dropping the other language. Research points if anything in a different direction - keeping the transparent language (like Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch) going, with its (almost) one-to-one phoneme-grapheme correspondence can be very helpful, at least for many cases of dyslexia; see dyslexiaida.org/literacy-dyslexia-revealed-through-bilingual-brain-development/
Happy to connect - we are trilingual German, Italian, English, living in California. We are also dealing with reading/writing difficulties in my oldest.
OK, so my own advances were not exactly successful (distraction with emergencies) ... and then "Oma" (German grandma) rocked it! Had an hour-long Skype call with the younger two, and "Mickey puppet" played a really active role. The boys had sooooo much fun. Thanks, Oma!!!
Hi Nellie, very glad you are asking the question as I'd love to get the latest on this myself. (Hope to get Adam or another expert to chime in.) Now from what I have read, 30% awake time (some say 40%, like Alejandro Brice from University of South Florida, interviewed on the "Bilingual Avenue" podcast, episode 33). On the other hand, as a social scientist myself, I know that some of these numbers are a bit shaky, and confound correlation with causality. Still, for myself (mom of 3 trilingual boys) it has been helpful to have a benchmark of about 30 hours/week. We are normally nowhere near that benchmark, but it helps to put it in perspective why the progress is slow "even though" we do 2x/week ml afterschool for 2.5 hours, and why the progress is huge when we have an ml Au Pair around. As Adam "preaches" it is not just exposure hours, but also need, though. Maybe you can get a playgroup with same-age ml kids started? Good luck with your adventures. You are not alone.
Puppets! I had forgotten their magic powers. When my older two boys would always respond to the "How was your day/school/ ...?" question with "I forgot." / "Nothing happened." etc. (-- and mind you, I did try the more intelligent ways of asking this question), I managed to talk to them via a puppet / stuffed animal etc. Okay, since we are currently doing the worst right after ML school (and STILL with the above question), my plan is to try Monday after school. Very excited already!
Hey Dave -- funny, I had also gotten off-the-track in terms of reading, in my case in ml not in ML. So great in terms of accountability to see you mention it and fix it. I also just got a bit back into it; managed to squeeze in 2x "Harry Potter in German" for oldest over breakfast (and some early ml reading attempts, like "Oma", "Mama", "Limo" for 5-year-old). Will try more this afternoon.
Keep us updated. It's great to see you jot all this down.
Chiming in after my first 10 months of au pair experience: You are not necessarily outsourcing your kid to him/her. For me, the big difference was that he and I would have a ml conversation. When we meet at the breakfast table it is not me who insists on the ml words for the food, washing hands etc. We naturally ask each other in the ml whether "you could pass me the milk" etc. Also some of the native-like vocabulary choices got to my kids thanks to the au pair. For example, I recently observed my oldest answering to the teacher in ml-afternoon-school that he has nothing to add since his ideas had already been mentioned ("erwaehnt" in German). Prior to the au pair it would for sure have been "... already been said ...". But thanks to conversations during pick-ups, over meals, etc. expressions where "erwaehnt" comes up 1000s of times, it entered the active vocabulary. In other words, even if you are not or almost not reducing the time with the kids it so pays off to have another person around who constantly speaks the language.
Having said all of that, it is of course not everybody's cup of tea to have a non-family young adult live in their house. I experienced that too (and I had thought beforehand that I would have no problems at all). Still, we will be continuing next year (this time with a ml2 au pair). It was a good experience for sure and I feel the benefits outweigh the costs...but there are costs for sure.
Love it, Adam! Especially the palindromes. Btw, how did you find all those fun examples? I was searching for some in ml1 and ml2 in our house (German and Italian), and the ones on Wikipedia are pretty boring ...
More generally, I am really grateful that you keep emphasizing the importance of having fun and being silly. It helps me stop myself from making this multilingual journey a (more) stressful endeavor. (Or at least you remind me that I should not do so ...). Having said that, I do feel that's where I fail the most. If, say, I am sitting down with the kids to help them do the homework for ml Saturday school, and they're just not into it, well, then I should make it fun / interesting / share background & stories...and instead I resort to a stern "Needs to get done. Now!"
Here is hoping that I can keep improving on this aspect. Thanks a lot for all the reminders embedded in your posts.
And, Dave, HUGE thanks for the details about "cloning"...haven't been doing it exactly for the reason you mention...too much to figure out how to work it out. You are giving me new inspiration here, and it will be one of my goals for April/May.
We have an au pair for the first time since August 2016. The impact on language was AMAZING. Some advice: have a very clear discussion about you wanting him/her to speak the ml. It is important that your kids code him/her as ml, and you create the "need." The system of speaking ML when kids are nowhere near is perfect. We did the same. If you can fold in singing music together, playing games in French, reading together in French, you should see a huge effect. Good luck...and enjoy!
Thanks a lot, Adam, also for the good wishes. I am very much with you in hoping that there will be reasonable transferrability, and that I don't need to abandon ml literacy. The big question will be how to implement everything practically without overwhelming my big boy. Fingers crossed. I hope to come back with an update and see what you and others might think.
Hi all, not sure whether anybody will still go back to this thread...but I *love* her book, and indeed she has two more out now, which I am (currently) reading. The style might not be for everybody - while written for parents, still tilted towards the academics. Being an academic myself, it is a great fit for me. She provides lots of detailed examples from her family and her consulting, which are also very inspiring. I really recommend it (with the above caveat). One more thing: I find that there is still far too little literature about the second "shift" when kids enter ML elementary school and up. She goes all the way through up to graduation from high school, and what this upbringing did to her kids, what worked, what didn't, which is a very helpful perspective.
Hi everybody -- I have been searching the forum for something on dyslexia and multilingual education but seem to find only threads on speech delay. I was wondering whether anybody has been in a situation (or has advice for a situation) where the kids are doing very well orally, rich vocabulary, but writing and reading is very hard and requires extra efforts. Specifically, my oldest boy is a very smart 8 year old, very advanced in math, very good also at "writing" in the sense of composing a story and comprehension...but printing (letter formation), spelling, reading remains very very hard. We will actually have him tested (neuro evaluation) soon, and I am suspecting some type of "stealth dyslexia" -- he has amazing compensation strategies since he is smart, but it is exhausting and frustrating for him. We are bringing him up trilingually, and his expression is also very good in ml1 (German) and fairly good in ml2 (Italian); his reading is somewhat better in ml1 than in the ML (English), probably since it is more phonetic...but still hard.
So, here is my worry: Whatever the outcome of the evaluation, we will probably get some recommendations for exercises and potentially some push to focus on the ML. Now, for *speech* delay/pathology, I have read and listened to many multilingual & speech pathology experts who urge parents to not fall into the trap of following speech pathology experts and educators without multilingualism experience who will push you to abandon the ml's. I find it very credible that this often reflects simply lack of knowledge on the side of the latter type of experts, and I would be ready to resist such advice.
But how about dyslexia? How if you have to spend time with your kid to practice spelling? I don't want to overwhelm my child, stress him too much. Should I give in and go for a more reduced speed in ml? Should I even take him out of the ml afternoon/Saturday language schools and focus on ML writing/reading? (I would personally be really, really sad and disappointed; but of course I will do what's best for him...) By the way, my second boy (6 years old) is among the top kids in his class in writing and reading, which is nice for us to see so we don't misattribute the outcome to our multilingual situation.
I'd love to hear from people with similar experiences or, really, any advice. Thanks!!
And hi again, Adam. That's very helpful. You are totally right that the more "homeschooling-type" approach would just not be sustainable, and I better get to terms with it instead of driving myself (and my family) crazy. Rather, I should rejoice in the power of small tasks...exactly the message I needed. Thanks! Will also re-read your homework posts; has been a while.
Hi again, Amy -- just needed to send a quick note that I managed to get a Skype call going between German grandparents and the little one (and a bit the big boy); hopefully even a bit more tomorrow morning for middle boy... THANKS!!
Dear Adam, thank you so much for your very nice & helpful response. Many people must have told you this before, but let me say it, too: It is really wonderful to experience your cheerful and encouraging attitude! As much as I truly enjoy this work with my kids (-and, like you, also like it as a commitment device to spend time with them-) I think I tend to get stressed and disappointed too easily ... So, thanks!!
Great suggestion about German (or Italian) university student. I will start looking into this right away! And thanks also for linking some of your posts. Especially the one on letter writing makes a couple of points I had forgotten.
Can I ask one more concrete question: Do you have any more examples on how you pick the topic / content of the homework? Re-reading some of your and others' posts, I am thinking of using the German afternoon/Saturday school's material (or even the ML school's themes) and expand on them. Any suggestions / pointers towards concrete steps "how to write-up the language plan" would be great.
Hi Amy - thank you so much! Yes, that's really interesting that your husband managed to get into a "routine" with his parents and your daughter. Will try to copy that...only that our life is so chaotic right now that I don't even know whether I can find a good regular time. (I sympathized and smiled a lot when reading your description why you sometimes don't pick up... Exactly!) I should go for the morning (as we are 9 hours behind), but on school days it's so hard to even get them ready, and on weekends I haven't been able to get ready in advance before it's time for church/German Saturday school. But you motivate me to try this coming weekend. Thanks!!
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Nellie: Haha love it Mayken! The best thing is - she is right!
Apr 24, 2018 5:45:09 GMT 9
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