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!!
I am a German mom raising three boys (8, 6, 5 yrs old) together with my Italian husband in Berkeley, California (USA). We are both excited about bringing them up with the three languages. We are happy about the successes we have had, and about the joy this has brought to them, to us and to the extended family! But, as I learned first from your WONDERFUL book, Adam, we are not alone in finding this "second shift" after they entered ML schools incredibly hard. For starters, how do you fit the ml exposure into their, when ML school is 8:30-3pm, and many or most days are filled with ML afternoon activities? My husband and I are both full-time professors here at Cal, which doesn't make it easier (though I have to admit the flexibility of our job is a blessing).
I'd love to exchange ideas about how to keep at it during the elementary school (and soon middle and high school) years. I found so many resources for parents with young kids, and I find much less for the ones who are now going through the period when the early-life "miracle" ("Look they speak all three languages, just because we talk to them in our own language!!") loses its potency.
Let me start with sharing some things that have worked, many of them from Adam's book or from posts here (THANK YOU!):
* Reading to them even as they grow! Have to admit that I had kind of stopped reading to them, maybe also because bedtime is so hard. Recently, I started copying the "reading over breakfast" idea from Adam which works great. While I got thrown off with in-laws visiting, and also with this time being "crunch time" in my semester, I will try to restart asap ... tomorrow.
* Relentlessly catering to their interests. While in Germany last time I spent time in bookstores and found "Star-Wars-imitating" books about three kids and their adventures in space. My oldest loves it and is reading almost voluntarily. ... He also loves all things invention / engineering, and found himself getting a lot of Italian books on world records and construction techniques.
* Play. I love playing board-/card-games etc. with kids, and it had kind of disappeared from our interactions, between Legos being more important, nagging their parents about wanting to play video games, and of course all the activities. I am more conscious about it now, and always on the search for reading / language fostering games. The thing is, though, you have to be there. Even if you match your kids with another ml-capable kid, they will switch to ML if you don't set the stage, I have found.
But here are the really big questions on my mind:
* I completely agree that Skyping with / letter writing to ml grandparents and friends is so valuable, especially for the "need" component. Embarrassingly, we fail to do this regularly, just since the 9 hr time difference throws us off. How do people with time zone differences handle this? Do you have a firm weekly "appointment" with grandparents? I have one success with my cousin & her kids recently. Would love to repeat it...
* "Homework." We are lucky in that, at least for ml1 (German) there is an afternoon school and a Saturday school, and so far the kids and many of their friends go to both. Still, the teachers are sometimes great, sometimes they click less well with my kids. Also some insist on ml, some are fairly lenient in letting the ML sneak in. And even if those 2x two-and-a-half hours were all ml...it's 5 hours/week, and I guess we should aim for 28 hours/week of exposure. Long story short, I'd love to do brief little homeworks the way many of you do it. But I am not good at putting stuff together (even if I know about Word Search websites, have work books that are fun etc.). I might also make the rookie mistake of having far too high expectations and then give up when we are not proceeding at the right pace. And, with being so busy and not being a "natural" at this, I think I'd need some "program" for me & my boys. Any suggestions?
* Any ideas about music? Streaming that works in German & Italian?
* Any advice how to get a ml playdate going for older kids (8-10yrs)? The approach of "start them off in the ml, and they might stick to it" doesn't quite work any more for us.
Thanks a lot! Also, Adam, let me know about past blog posts I might want to read. Chances are I have done so but always good to re-read. The more concrete things you have shared with us (like the reading over breakfast) are so helpful!
Anyhow, this a great group, and I look forward to more interaction.
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Mayken: Time to update my profile: my little girl is 7 today. She got a stack of ml books and was totally thrilled.
Jun 30, 2017 4:59:27 GMT 9
Amy: Beautiful video Adam...and so true, as always! :). You enjoy your hiatus, and we look forward to reading you again in August! Otsukaresama deshita (thank you for your hard work)!
Jul 1, 2017 5:03:26 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter's ML report card has the same percentage of A's as the ml one but surprisingly the non-A's are not in the same categories. Anyway, she's off to grade 2 at the bilingual school! (After well-deserved and ml-rich holidays!)
Jul 1, 2017 5:12:01 GMT 9
Nellie: Congratulations to your daughter Mayken!
Jul 3, 2017 9:57:10 GMT 9
Wojtek: Back from journey from Croatia. It wasn't English speaking country but ... I was with my daughter for the whole 2 weeks 24/7!
Jul 8, 2017 19:04:43 GMT 9
Wojtek: Being all day with daughter makes really difference! She spoke definitely more and I had more chance to correct her, suggest better phrases, etc. That was great!
Jul 8, 2017 19:08:01 GMT 9
Mayken: Wojtek, a lot of one-on-one time is one of the perks of holidays, no matter where.
Jul 9, 2017 19:55:27 GMT 9
Amy: Baby seems to pick up a lot of ml2! Yeaterday she surprised me answering back "whyyyy?" and this morning when asked how she was she replied "very well"!! <3 Beautiful moments of our bilingual journey <3
Jul 10, 2017 19:21:02 GMT 9
Mayken: Two playdates with classmates from my 7-year-olds ml class this weekend, and the kids and parents all spoke ml the entire time! ml interaction with other kids is precious during summer holidays. Very happy
Jul 26, 2017 0:04:20 GMT 9