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Raising a bilingual child

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Arekkusu
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Canada
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 Message 25 of 37
20 March 2015 at 5:30pm | IP Logged 
Another question to further the discussion: is there not a point where insisting on speaking your first language at home at all times (when in a minority setting) implies that you are entirely leaving it up to others to educate your child in the language of the majority?

If the responsibility for teaching your language falls entirely on your shoulder, and yet you feel like you have something to contribute, linguistically, to the development of your child in your second (or other first) language, then this can be a difficult puzzle to solve for some parents.
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eyðimörk
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 Message 26 of 37
20 March 2015 at 5:53pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
Another question to further the discussion: is there not a point where insisting on speaking your first language at home at all times (when in a minority setting) implies that you are entirely leaving it up to others to educate your child in the language of the majority?

If the responsibility for teaching your language falls entirely on your shoulder, and yet you feel like you have something to contribute, linguistically, to the development of your child in your second (or other first) language, then this can be a difficult puzzle to solve for some parents.

I'm not sure I follow with regard to the difficulty.

The parents in this scenario speak their native minority language at home. The child learns the majority language from everyone else. BUT, one or both of the parents speaks the majority language at a native-like level and could thus contribute to their child's development of that language. Excellent. The child's every interaction with people outside of the home, or guests inside the home, is an opportunity to correct mistakes. From the day the child starts to write, there is wisdom to impart. There will probably be 12 years worth of homework to correct and discuss.

Speaking one language at home does not mean that you pretend that the world outside does not exist and that you don't understand other languages, does it?
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shk00design
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 Message 27 of 37
20 March 2015 at 6:37pm | IP Logged 
In Canada I've seen cases with mixed couples where both parents have agreed to raise the child to be
"Western" or "Canadian". Everybody would speak English at home. The parents won't trying to teach the child
their language(s). The odd times when the family attends dinner parties, there will always be people in the
room who speak English to accommodate those who do not speak another language.

I've seen people in the Chinese community who emigrated to Canada in the 1960s who had mixed feelings
about the turbulent years when Mao was running China. They felt the kids would be better off learning English
and integrate into the mainstream society. Now Canada has more visible minorities due to immigration, people
tend to feel they can be distinct (maintaining their religion, language and culture) and still be "Canadian". Part
of being Canadian is to accept the country as a "mosaic" of cultures when Europeans were once the majority.

The decision to speak other language(s) at home is entirely up to the parents. A few years ago the Chinese
American author Amy Chua published the book "Battle Hymns of the Tiger Mother". Amy who is married to a
Jewish husband decided to raise her 2 daughters in both cultures. At home, she had a Chinese nanny who
taught her daughters to speak Mandarin. On Saturdays they would participate in services at a local
synagogue. When a child becomes an adult, he/she may choose to take up language classes.

Edited by shk00design on 20 March 2015 at 6:39pm

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Arekkusu
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 Message 28 of 37
20 March 2015 at 7:28pm | IP Logged 
eyðimörk wrote:
The parents in this scenario speak their native minority language at home.

You are assuming that both parents speak that minority language. Often times, only one parent speaks it, and that parent may still feel that they have something to contribute to the child's knowledge of the dominant language.
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eyðimörk
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 Message 29 of 37
20 March 2015 at 8:02pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
You are assuming that both parents speak that minority language. Often times, only one parent speaks it, and that parent may still feel that they have something to contribute to the child's knowledge of the dominant language.

I'm not assuming anything (although I was too much in a rush to write out all the alternatives). This changes absolutely nothing in my perspective.

EDIT: It doesn't matter if both parents speak the same minority language, if both speak different minority languages, or if one speaks the majority language natively. This still applies: The child's every interaction with people outside of the home, or guests [edit: or parent] inside the home, is an opportunity (edit: for the non-native parent) to correct mistakes. From the day the child starts to write, there is wisdom to impart. There will probably be 12 years worth of homework to correct and discuss.

Speaking one language at home does not mean that you pretend that the world outside does not exist and that you don't understand other languages, does it?


Nothing changes.

I did assume though that YOU meant that both parents speak a minority language since you said: "you are entirely leaving it up to others" to teach the child the majority language. That's a funny way of speaking about your life partner... some "other" that shouldn't have to carry the weight of teaching their own child their own language.

Edited by eyðimörk on 20 March 2015 at 8:26pm

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patrickwilken
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 Message 30 of 37
20 March 2015 at 8:10pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
eyðimörk wrote:
The parents in this scenario speak their native minority language at home.

You are assuming that both parents speak that minority language. Often times, only one parent speaks it, and that parent may still feel that they have something to contribute to the child's knowledge of the dominant language.


Well at least in this case both parents speak the minority language (English) very well, and one is native in the native language (German) and the other (me) is OK, but certainly shouldn't be a role model for anyone.

Having followed this very helpful discussion I am really much more relaxed about things now. My daughter will undoubtedly learn German. How well she learns English is ultimately her decision. I suspect she'll learn it quite well, but in the end it will come down to how useful she perceives it.


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Serpent
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 Message 31 of 37
20 March 2015 at 10:26pm | IP Logged 
But her perception largely depends on you (and on factors that may not be fully in your control too).

Also, the early exposure and practice crucial for a native-like pronunciation.
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Elexi
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 Message 32 of 37
24 March 2015 at 4:11pm | IP Logged 
'My daughter will undoubtedly learn German. How well she learns English is ultimately
her decision.'

I take it you believe children 'learn' languages that are spoken to them by their
parents - rather than just acquiring them. I think differently, a child will just pick
it up from input - English will be useful if you and other English speakers speak in
English to her, as simple as that. Therefore how much input you give is ultimately
your decision.   

She may need help with the English spelling system in terms of reading and writing, as
she will learn to read with the German sound system. That is where buying things like
the dreaded Biff, Chip and Kipper books come in handy - but that is 5 years in the
future :-)


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