I'm only using ml with my son but don't know what to do when he interacts with other kids... Should I talk with them in majority language but translate everything in minority language? (Feels heavy and artificial.) I have also tried to just keep using minority language with everyone when I know the other parent doesn't mind. But as they get older, we won't have a rich role playing game if the other child doesn't understand me... Or do I just use majority language with everyone?
Welcome Debbie! It's great that you've been able to transmit a passive understanding so far! I'm hoping to get there! My son is only 1 year old and Is not talking a lot yet. I've been trying to do some networking with Chinese families to provide some future Mandarin speaking friends (we'll see how that works out). Relating to what Adam said in his book, I'll try to be as playful as I can (will try to find some original Chinese games, treasure hunting...). I'm also trying to provide a rich written Chinese environment with Chinese translations in every children's book we have. I agree though that creating need is going to be such a challenge. Some other posts on this forum will be more helpful. I'll keep you updated as he gets older!
It's great that you are preparing ahead of time! You are in a great position to network with French speaking families and other French speaking teachers! Remember that you don't need to do this all by yourself! I find that the more I talk about my bilingual journey with friends, the more opportunities arise. Also babies are only using 1-3 word sentences for a while, so you have a good 2 years to improve your own level and find them some French speaking friends to play with!
Love the book "Small Talk" by Lathey Highly, recommend you have a look.
Here are some of my favorite French books: Anything from the collection "lou et mouf" from Jeanne Ashbé Mon square animé/mon jardin animé or any other book from this collection from Nathan publisher
Now is a good time to learn some nursery rhymes. Au clair de la lune and à La claire fontaine are some classical ones (I got the 20 chansons et comptines du petit ours brun for our son, available on iTunes) but of course they are all available on YouTube.
Finally I found that watching children's TV programs on YouTube has helped me greatly with "baby talk" in Mandarin. There are a few children French book reading channels on YouTube.
I think a language is harder to forget then advertised. I can only offer my own experience with Mandarin. I learned Mandarin in daycare back when I was in China then never used it from age 7 to about age 12. I was exposed to 2 hours of Mandarin a week from age 12-15 (going to a weekend school) and then never used it/spoke it for 17 years (except for rare trips back to China once every 5 years). And yet, I can still converse in this language (at a basic level), and can read some simple novels.
2nd anecdote: I have a 7-year-old niece who only received fragmented Mandarin exposure (from her grandmother who used more a local dialect than Mandarin) and that was only when her grandmother visited, about 1 month every 2 years! Granted she got some passive exposure through TV. And yet, she has a very good passive understanding! When we played "I spy with my little eye", she could find most of the objects! 😳
I can totally relate to your reason 1! Point 3 summarizes the main reason I often choose to not translate (aside from mental laziness 😂).
I acquired both languages in different contexts. I always used French till university. So literature, poetry, philosophy and everyday talk are enjoyed in French. I learned English in college so everything academic is in English for me (not able to sustain and sound smart in academia in French 😅). At the same time, still having a hard time sustaining an everyday conversation in English. Hence, I really need both languages to be functional!
Here's the thing: I need both French and English to feel complete. Ideas come to me in a given language. If I happen to be talking with someone who doesn't speak it, then I have to translate the sentence in the other language (hence, I may look slow sometimes 😓). In fact, my brain doesn't think the same way depending on which language is turned on.
So out of curiosity, how does it work in your brain? Do you think in concepts, then use the desired language or do you need to think in a given language like me? Or maybe you think in more than one language?
Also, the most natural way to speak for me would be to speak "bilingual" and basically say whatever comes to my mind in the language it came in. If some of you are like me, are you considering speaking mixed language when your kids will be in adulthood ? (I know this way of speaking can be heavily judged by monolinguals. However I don't see it as a sign of disrespect but rather just reflecting how differently the bilingual brain works...)
I would like to share with you one of my favorite books about how to talk more efficiently to our little one (0-4yo). It's called "Small Talk" by Lathey.
I try to "deliver" my linguistic input in the highest "digestible" form possible and this book provides exactly the "how to". My son was still only pre-babbling at 10 months old and within 2 days of implementing what was in the book, he was finally babbling! And now he is babbling all the time 😂 and even saying a few words. 😃
In the book ”Nurture Shock" they talk about how we talk to our child can make as much of a difference as acquiring 8 vs 150 new words from 9mo to 18mo!! With the limited amount of exposure our kids get vs a monolingual family, I feel it pays to talk "better"... I know you guys will understand. 😋
We are trying to raise our 11-month-old son trilingual (English, French and Mandarin). My husband and I are both native French speakers. We are both fluent in English. We live in a bilingual city (French/English) but our neighborhood is more English speaking. School will be in French.
I have an oral Mandarin level equivalent to a 7-year-old child and a lower elementary reading comprehension. Since my son was about 6 months old, I've been exclusively speaking in Mandarin to him (but French with my husband who doesn't know any Mandarin). I didn't start earlier because I didn't give much thought prior to that...my husband is only speaking in French to our son.
To improve my own Mandarin level, I've been studying 30min per day and it worked (my extended family have noticed my improvement). I am the only Mandarin input for now. So after reading Adam's book, I realized I am really swimming against the current (feeling like abandoning more than once). So my realistic expectation is for him to acquire a passive understanding and my ideal goal is to get him to a 5-6 year-old native speaker level. We are expecting high level for French and English (oral and literacy).
We decided to wait a little bit before introducing English since it is the majority language. I also feel that I cannot keep talking exclusively in Mandarin because at some point I'll need a richer vocabulary to explain things to him when he'll be older...but after reading a few books on raising bilingual kids, I'm determined to provide as much exposure as I can. Thanks all for taking the time to read!
What's on your mind right now? Just type and hit "Enter" to share it here!
Mayken: School starts again tomorrow. This year, exceptionally, 7yo will have all of her ml classes in 2 half days, instead of 1h/day. We'll see how that goes. (She's in 2nd grade.)
Sept 3, 2017 17:58:36 GMT 9
Amy: "Bonne rentrée" Mayken! Hope this new schedule will work well for your daughter though I have no doubt she will keep up her already excellent bilingual level
Sept 3, 2017 18:57:33 GMT 9
Mayken: Thanks Amy! Bonne rentrée to you too! My daughter has ml on Tuesday mornings (tomorrow!) and Thursday afternoons.
Sept 5, 2017 5:39:39 GMT 9
Amy: First Wednesday at home magic: ml2 bathed home and catching my 5 year old singing along her music player in ml2.... Bilingual bliss! Only you fellow bilingual parents could understand this
Sept 6, 2017 21:05:46 GMT 9
Mayken: Planning to send my daughter to ml school again during the next holidays. But it's ok, she's looking forward to it!
Sept 8, 2017 4:45:12 GMT 9
Mayken: We had our parents meetings with the ml teacher, my daughter will have a lot of work this year! One parent asked "which kids actually do speak ml at home?" Does that mean many of them don't???
Sept 13, 2017 5:02:26 GMT 9
Nellie: Mayken - my daughter is a lot younger than yours (just starting PS), but in her class there are two children with Spanish-speaking parents, but apparently neither of them actually speak it...disappointing!
Sept 13, 2017 6:28:10 GMT 9
Amy: Nellie, these 2 kids might simply be passive bilinguals, and as you know the penny might simply drop one day and they'll start using Spanish...
Sept 13, 2017 17:05:33 GMT 9
Mayken: In our ml class the kids are required to have a high level of ml. In class they only speak ml (this year there's a penalty for speaking ML!). I assumed they all speak ml with the ml parent at home. (I've known those kids for 2 years.)
Sept 13, 2017 23:42:56 GMT 9
Nellie: Yes I'm sure you're right and they are passive bilinguals! And they are young. I certainly hope by your daughter's age that my little one will be speaking ml1 with me - have already seen a lot of progress over the last week! The penny is dropping!
Sept 14, 2017 5:51:52 GMT 9
Patricia: Has anyone encountered studies, or personal accounts, of bilingualism (or multilingualism) playing a role in delayed speech?
Sept 15, 2017 1:31:58 GMT 9
Adam Beck: Patricia, please complete your Profile (see my "welcome message" for guidance), then post your questions to the forum boards. Thank you.
Sept 15, 2017 6:14:15 GMT 9