As everyone already pointed out, this process has its ups and downs. The ups are very encouraging but the downs always have you wonder whether you're doing something wrong and how to get back in track.
Amy made a good point when she said that children always go for the easiest option. If I can speak just one language, why bother speaking two? Our children do the same: my daughter only spoke in the ml between the age of 2 and 3 because she didn't feel the need to use the ML, even though she understood it. She's also called me "mamá" in the ML a few times, just to see my reaction. I ignored it and she went back to calling me "mommy".
Hope this "down" is over soon and your daughter goes back to using more words in the ml.
Tracey, I hope you can get your husband on board (pun not intended) and travel to the UK with your children.
We'll be going abroad with our children for the first time (to the UK, in fact) this summer and I confess I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited. Hubby and I used to travel a lot before having children, but haven't left the country these past years. Plus, travelling with children will be nothing like it was by ourselves, so we still feel like newbies at it. We don't have the -great- advantage of having any friends or family over there, so we're on our own to decide where to go, find activities for them, etc... Our main goal is getting our eldest to play with other children in English, which we don't have that much control over, so I hope it works out. We'll only be there for 9-10 days, but it's a start. I'll let you know how it goes.
For the moment she doesn't dare use ML at home because she knows how cross I get about it if she does. She is scared of the language police. She has already picked on the only ML word her baby sister uses and boy she enjoyed teasing about it. We have insisted on her showing the ml example to her baby sister. But knowing my eldest's mischievous character, I am cautious...
Oh, I see!! So you're not afraid she'll follow her sister's lead, but that she will use it as an excuse to cheat herself.
We are travelling back to ml1 country for 3 weeks. It is the longest we will have stayed there so far. Brilliant for the girls. We skyped my mother-in-law and she is already looking at summer classes at the local Culture House (like my eldest had last year) to see if there is anything interesting to enrol my eldest on. My husband already planned a few days away just him and me, leaving the girls with their grandparents... doubly-brilliant for the girls!
That's awesome! And I bet it'll be good for you and your husband too. You're lucky to have family abroad who can help you find activities for them and can provide this kind of immersion. What I would give to have it! If there's any way I can help, let me know!
Beyond their ml they will also be entirely immersed in their minority culture...and this is priceless. I feel that if they feel their minority identity they will also develop the need and will of mastering their ml. And if they do, if they bring it home after the holidays, then it will annihilate the power struggle to respect our ml@h rule.
Good point!! I know my interest in languages started when travelling around Europe and wanting to play with other children who sometimes spoke English, but sometimes didn't. It created that "need" for me. But feeling that a certain language is part of who you are would definitely create a greater need to learn it.
Good to know, Nellie!! Thanks for sharing that piece of information!
Tracey, reading your post I was thinking your daughter would be bored to death in an academy class with children her age who are learning the basics while she already speaks the language. So, how about a personal tutor? Do you think it would help?
Very true. My daughter looooves the idea of watching TV, but when she does, she gets tired of it after a little while. It's like treats, which she's always asking for, but when she does, she gets one gummy or some chips and is happy with that. She doesn't take after her mom at all; when I got my hands on treats at her age, I didn't stop until someone told me to.
It's harder for you, Undraa, since you're the only one speaking the ml at home. We also put them to bed separately, but their dad is also speaking the ml to them. The problem for me is when I'm alone with them, which is about 3-4 hours a day on school days. Before, with my eldest, I could devote all of my time to playing with her. Now, with 2 children, they get half as much exposure to the ml from me.
I very much doubt your eldest will think she should do what her baby sister does, Amy. We tell older siblings that they're big and need to help the little ones learn and they see how many more things they can do that the little ones can't. My guess is your eldest will see it as her little sister not knowing -yet- that "we don't speak in the ML at home". You're lucky she only speaks in the mls to her little sister. I've caught my daughter speaking in the ML to her brother in the presence of other family members, when she speaks in the ML with everyone but mom and dad. I reminded her we only speak in the ml with her baby brother because "he's learning" and she needs to help him learn. She's made the connection children-ML.
My little one is already attending nursery school, so I'm also afraid of what will happen when he starts speaking, especially if he says things in the ML. My daughter is used to code-switching when spoken to in one language. It amuses my dad that if he speaks to her in the ml she'll answer in this language and if he speaks in the ML she'll answer in that one instead. I'm counting on summer holidays and all the ml we can provide during this time. Once we go back to school, we don't have that much control over their languages.
(And from my daughter's recent comment to her Dad that he should speak in ml2 because "Mummy wants everybody to speak ml2" betrays my daughter's impression of the language police. )
Awww. This means nothing, though. She may just have noticed that you like it when she speaks the ml2, just like you like it when she's nice to others or cleans up after herself. I doubt your daughter thinks of you as anything like "the language police". If she felt it's something imposed, would she bother speaking in the ml? I don't think so
I also reject ML telly when kids are around (had to ask my hubby to cut out the sound when watching a sports game... Poor man has to put up with the language police, too! ***sigh***
Not at all! It's in his best interest too, as he also wants his children to speak both mls. We all have to make sacrifices every now and then.
You are right, with 3-4h a day, it is near impossible to do many activities with small kids (they are already sooooooo slow just doing the most basic morning/evening routines). Hence the advantage of an all ml home (as my situation allows) providing daily exposure during those few hours without having to cram activities into an already packed schedule!
So true! We make the most of the time we have; that's what matters.
I am also really really worried about the baby brother starting to speak soon. It is going to be tough until we find our routine.
Same here! Mine are the same age as yours (born in 2013 and 2016), so I know the feeling. I don't know you, but ever since my son started sleeping less and playing more, I feel like my time with them has been cut in half: I can only really talk with one of them at a time. Like yesterday, I was trying to teach my son to get down from the couch feet first, and my daughter was making a puzzle and asking for help every now and then. They have different needs, so there aren't activities they can both do at this point.
Being her only source of the ml ought to be hard! But it sounds like you're doing great. She's only 16 months old and she's already saying some words in Spanish and you can tell she understands you. I can't wait for my 12-month-old son to get to that point where I can tell he understands and he's saying a few words!!
The only thing I can say is keep trying to find more things to do in Spanish -your ml-. I've looked for activities in our ml a lot of times, and I sometimes found new interesting activities. And if you can't find them, there's always the option -if you can- of starting one yourself!!
My son is also more interested in biting books than in reading them. We always read my daughter a bedtime story (I sometimes read to her during her play time after school, too). I've tried reading to my son during the day but, although he'll sometimes touch the pages (it's mostly touchy-feely books) or enjoy passing pages, it usually ends with him leaving to play with something else. Oh well! I know one day he'll be interested, so I'll keep trying until then.
I feel your pain; it's hard not to worry when you're a parent!!
I see how, now that you're in Hungary, you're worried about German. The difference in exposure from you and your wife doesn't help either, I bet! But you'll go back to Germany, so you'll have a better access to German every year for a few months (that's gold!); you're already finding ways to help you with German while in Hungary; and she's still very young.
My daughter didn't care for other children until she turned 3, but just because the children in the classes you attend are not interacting now, it doesn't mean they aren't 'registering' that there are other families who speak German.
I'm sure you'll do just fine in all 3 languages. Changes are very big now, when they're this little.
That's awesome, Jessica!! I've read of cases like yours where both parents speak the ML with their children, but they find a way for them to learn a 2nd language (in your case, even a third, wow!!) I think it is you who can tell us how you're doing it!! We have to rely on ourselves for enough exposure to our children. It's easier, considered how much time, we, parents, spend with them. But being able to do it by having a 3rd person who speaks the target language or by attending activities in such language seems amazing to me; kudos to you and your family!! Going to read that last entry on your blog.
That's SO funny, Undraa!! And very smart too! My daughter isn't THAT competitive, but I do use a similar trick, like pretending her brother is playing along and telling me something -that's wrong- when I want her to participate. More often than not, she can't pass up the chance to say it right.
For screen time I always mark "Less than 2 hours per day" which is the shortest duration listed.
I guess that's because this is what's recommended (less than 2 hours per day) and they want to know whether you follow these recommendations, and if you don't, how much over those 2 hours your children are.
Friends who are social workers often talk about infants and toddlers exposed to 8+ hours per day.
That's horrible! Poor children.
You've made me see these studies in a new light, Jessica.
I have changed every device I use to English (even made hubby change my Windows to an English version) and read only in English. I'd say I think in English more than I do in Spanish.
One page I used before -don't have much time these days, but I hope to as soon as I can stay awake after 10pm, lol- is Conversationexchange.com. It's a site -free- where you can look for someone who's learning your language and speaks the one you're learning. You can speak through different programs (Skype, FaceTime, etc...), meet face to face or write to each other. I used to find the chat software option very convenient.
Nellie, it's no wonder you're tired after a long day at work using a language that isn't your mother tongue!! When I first started using English a lot -not even for work- I wondered why I was so tired all the time. After a while I realized it was because my brain was working overtime speaking a 2nd language. It's hard! So don't be too hard on yourself.
I'm glad I found this thread. Thanks Adam for this forum, for bringing us all together and allowing us to find other parents in the same situation we are. Thank you for sharing all your knowledge, and for all the articles, help and work you put into this.
Regarding my husband speaking in English, for the moment he is also concerned about her French, and as at the moment he is the main source of exposure (the other one being the babysitter, but she is not doing many hours at the moment so he has largely taken over), he has the same concerns as me for English. Once we get back to France, though, I do think we should institute something - I was thinking of saying that dinner time will be all in English, at the very least. He is very supportive of my efforts (and in fact he just got back from a work trip from New York today, with Adam's book in tow!), so the issue isn't resistance to the idea - it's mostly ensuring consistency! Maybe having a defined time and place (the dinner table) where all family conversations take place in English will help. Of course, I will continue to want my daughter to address me in English at all times!
Well, of course!! I meant once you went back to France and your daughter began to speak French all the time, provided that's what happens. Dinner time in English sounds like an excellent idea! It creates need.
As per not understanding just words, I suggested it because that's what I did when my daughter insisted on saying "water" and "yes" in Spanish. She was only using single words at that point, so it was easier than in your case. Every time she said "sí" (=yes; sounds just like "see") I asked what she saw. I don't remember what word I chose to understand with "agua" (=water), but it was also the same one every time. She soon learned to say "yes" and "water". *evil grin* I still pretend not to understand when she comes from school and uses any Spanish word. Then I finally give her the English equivalent so that she learns it.
I have to admit - I'm feeling more hopeful about my bilingual quest these days than ever before. I can't believe I almost gave up on it! Adam's words about perseverance & tenacity in the matter found their way to me just in time!
That's great to hear!! And you're not alone about sometimes wanting to give up and finding the strength here to keep at it.
This forum is such a priceless source of unexpected support, help, understanding & encouragement!
We have all gone through this at least once, and still do when through rough patches of our bilingual journey. (This journey is veeeeeery long, with lots of opportunities to get disheartened). One of the aggravating factors is isolation as a bilingual parent. So whenever you feel like you want to give up again, reach out to this wonderful forum.
Hold on tight, this journey is a rollercoaster!
Well put, Amy! I couldn't have said it better myself.
I just found this thread and I was wondering how your daughter is doing, now that she's seeing a speech therapist. I know it hasn't been long enough for a change in her speech, but I was wondering whether the therapist has said anything about the way she's doing.
What's on your mind right now? Just type and hit "Enter" to share it here!
Mayken: Yay Amy! - I'm curious about the letter my 6-year-old wrote us during her class trip (teacher-supervised activity). Will there be ml in it? I hope it arrives before she comes back!
Jun 8, 2017 18:56:16 GMT 9
Joanna: My workshop is planned for Saturday, thanks for your replies...I'll post after. My daughter was singing along to our "theme song" so I have renewed hope
Jun 9, 2017 14:18:39 GMT 9
Mayken: My daughter's letter from her class trip arrived - she wrote one message in ML to Dad and another in ml to me. Her first letter in ml without a ml person to help her!
Jun 11, 2017 18:40:08 GMT 9
Nellie: Congrats Mayken, Amy and Joanna!
Jun 12, 2017 10:12:42 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Wonderful, Mayken! Those letters are instant keepsakes that I'm sure will be read again many years from now...
Jun 12, 2017 14:57:15 GMT 9
Amy: Joanna, how did Saturday go? Mayken, enjoy this beautiful keepsake
Jun 12, 2017 20:36:29 GMT 9
Joanna: It went really well! I'll make a good post soon with details
Jun 15, 2017 14:04:30 GMT 9
Amy: Looking forward to it Joanna!
Jun 16, 2017 1:39:43 GMT 9
Mayken: My mom got a lovely postcard in ml too from my 6-year-old daughter on her field trip! Another precious keepsake! (OK, I prepared the card with address and stamp ahead of time, but she did the writing all by herself.)
Jun 19, 2017 23:28:01 GMT 9
Adam Beck: NEW VIDEO AT BILINGUAL MONKEYS TV! Your Child Wants to Be Bilingualhttps://youtu.be/C2uQhIZPp80 (And please subscribe to my growing YouTube channel!)
Jun 21, 2017 8:49:35 GMT 9
Mayken: Our ml section will have a flea market stand at the school fair with used books, games, DVDs and CDs for sale. I donated 2 games, promised my daughter she could choose something. (Proceeds are for the school's ml section.) Love the idea!
Jun 22, 2017 23:23:00 GMT 9
Amy: Am I to read something into the fact my toddler slammed Adam's book into my face...??
Jun 25, 2017 20:58:35 GMT 9
Adam Beck: "Mommy, you better make me a polyglot...or else!"
Jun 26, 2017 6:40:56 GMT 9
Nellie: Ahaaaaaaaa Amy!!!
Jun 26, 2017 9:44:39 GMT 9