I'm the mother of two children, aged 6 and 3. I'm the ml parent. Although my husband is not a native speaker, we're using the ml at home approach with good results. Child #1 speaks both languages fluently and addresses us in the ml. Child #2 is a little behind compared to her brother, but she speaks as well.
They both go to a ML school.
My concern is the following. Since two or three weeks ago, child #2 has started playing in the ML, even in our ml home. She's pretending to be a dancer, a teacher, a doctor or whatever, and she says that the character only speaks in the ML. Of course, the child is not dumb and knows that Daddy and I understand and speak the ML. We had a visit from the ml grandparents, and she kept playing the "ML character", even with grandma and grandpa (who don't speak the ML but can understand a little).
Any advice on how should we address this issue? We have tried: ignoring, pretending not to understand her, advising to create a character who only speaks the ml, creating a character who just speaks an invented language, encouraging her to use the ml at home and with grandpa... But she keeps addressing us in the ML when she's playing the ML character.
Agnese, it's nice to see you! It sounds like, overall, your bilingual journey is going really well! Good for you and your husband, and good for your kids!
When my daughter was your daughter's age, she really enjoyed role play, too. I'm not sure how actively you've been engaging with your daughter in this way, but I was able to create a minority language context for my daughter's role play interest by actively participating with her. In this way, she not only received regular exposure to the minority language (she wanted to do role play all the time for quite a while! ), she used this language actively with me.
In other words, try "conditioning" your daughter to engage in role play in the minority language by doing this activity together. In fact, since the whole family has ability in this language, why not engage in role play scenarios as a family? It's a really fun and productive activity!
Below is an excerpt about role play from my e-book 77 Great Games and Activities for Getting Your Bilingual Child to Speak Your Language. If you like, you can get the full book by following this link to my free webinar...
Role play is another activity where parents and children can engage with the minority language in a controlled way. For example, play “pet shop” with stuffed animals and a toy cash register. Use some play money, too. (Physical props are very helpful for role play.) First, the parent is the shopkeeper and the child is the customer. The shopkeeper welcomes the customer to the store, showing the various animals, then helping the customer make a purchase. With the parent repeatedly modeling the language, the child will eventually feel ready to reverse roles and try being the shopkeeper, too. And if the child forgets how to say something, the parent can simply feed the needed line, like a prompter in a play. (Children like to be the boss and use the cash register!)
The conversation can flow freely, but might go something like this...
SHOPKEEPER: Hello! Welcome to my pet shop! CUSTOMER: Hello! SHOPKEEPER: Do you like animals? CUSTOMER: Yes. SHOPKEEPER: Great, I have a lot of animals. I have a dog, a cat, a mouse, a bird, and a turtle. Do you like dogs? CUSTOMER: Yes. SHOPKEEPER: Do you like cats? CUSTOMER: No. (SHOPKEEPER continues to ask “Do you like _____?”) SHOPKEEPER: Which animal is your favorite? CUSTOMER: I like turtles. SHOPKEEPER: Do you want this turtle? CUSTOMER: Yes. SHOPKEEPER: Okay, 10 dollars, please. (SHOPKEEPER gives the turtle and CUSTOMER gives some money.) SHOPKEEPER: Thank you very much. Have fun with your turtle. CUSTOMER: Thank you. SHOPKEEPER: Goodbye. CUSTOMER: Goodbye.
Role play is very effective for practicing useful questions and answers like...
*Do you have...? / I have... *Do you like...? / I like... *Do you want...? / I want...
And once the child starts using these kinds of common expressions within the controlled context of the role play, they will then become better able to use them more freely during daily life, too.
When she was small, my daughter wanted to do these role plays constantly, which, if I’m being honest, finally made me crazy. Still, because I knew how beneficial this activity was, both to her language development and to our bond as parent and child, I continued to engage with her enthusiasm each time, until she eventually outgrew this interest.
VARIATION: Other possible role play scenarios include book shop, supermarket (with plastic food), restaurant, doctor’s office, veterinarian’s office, hair salon, etc.
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Jan 6, 2023 20:02:18 GMT 9