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Raising a bilingual child

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
37 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 3 4
patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 3130 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 33 of 37
24 March 2015 at 4:56pm | IP Logged 
Elexi wrote:

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.   


Perhaps. I know a lot of people who raise children bilingually,and the kids invariably learnt the local language natively, and the home language to the point of understanding, but not fluency. My wife, for instance, can understand Platt Deutsch, which her parents spoke at home, but can't speak it very well.

You need a lot of input to reach native level, and as I said I believe it's ultimately my daughters decision whether she wants to achieve this or not. I will certainly be speaking English to her, reading (and later buying) books for her etc, but it's certainly believable to me that she might just get to some intermediate level and stop there.

Edited by patrickwilken on 24 March 2015 at 4:57pm

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basica
Senior Member
Australia
Joined 2133 days ago

157 posts - 269 votes 
Studies: Serbian

 
 Message 34 of 37
24 March 2015 at 10:08pm | IP Logged 
My parents spoke Serbian to me until I was school age, I knew some English but was basically monolingual.
When I started going to school I had issues keeping up and my teacher suggest my parents speak a bit more
English at home. Eventually I would only speak English to them and stopped responding to Serbian so they
spoke more English. As a result I have forgotten almost entirely the language and hence relearning it now.

My parents would speak to each other and their friend in Serbian still, but I nevertheless lost my ability to
understand and speak it - so I think it's definitely more than just absorbing it by osmosis - just my 2cents.
2 persons have voted this message useful



shk00design
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3041 days ago

747 posts - 1122 votes 
Speaks: Cantonese*, English, Mandarin
Studies: French

 
 Message 35 of 37
25 March 2015 at 6:08am | IP Logged 
basica wrote:
My parents spoke Serbian to me until I was school age, I knew some English but was
basically monolingual.
When I started going to school I had issues keeping up and my teacher suggest my parents speak a bit more
English at home. Eventually I would only speak English to them and stopped responding to Serbian so they
spoke more English. As a result I have forgotten almost entirely the language and hence relearning it now.


You've raised another interesting topic for debate. Do you actually need to lose 1 language in order to be more
fluent in another? I know 2 people who grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Whey they were younger, both were
being cared for by grandparents who have very limited English. They would go to an Enlgish-speaking school
like every other kid in the neighbourhood. But when they got home from school, they would be surrounded by
parents and grandparents who speak mostly Cantonese. Both of them are fluent speaking Cantonese and
English. However, their ability to read and write Chinese characters is practically 0 because they had no formal
education in Chinese which is understandable. Their spoken Chinese fluency is practically at the native level
like their English.

Focusing more on 1 language that you are weak at doesn't mean you have to give up your strong language
altogether. It is common for people to be learning several languages at a time. Nowadays there are all sorts of
online videos with various languages. You would spend more time with 1 language until you get your level up
and then split your exposure in half. At home I'd be watching the news on TV in English. In the car I'd be
listening to radio programs in Chinese. Even if you decide to put 1 language aside, once in a while you can
watch a TV show or movie in that language so you wouldn't lose it completely.

Edited by shk00design on 25 March 2015 at 6:09am

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Elexi
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4162 days ago

938 posts - 1837 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French, German, Latin

 
 Message 36 of 37
25 March 2015 at 11:59am | IP Logged 
basica your 2 cents are worth a lot. Raising a bilingual child is not about them
absorbing by osmosis - input is a thing distinct from osmosis - as it requires the
child to actively participate, even if they don't answer back at first in the secondary
language.   In my personal experience and from observation from other parents who are
raising their child bilingually, the process by which you lost Serbian is exactly what
happens in many bilingual families. The parents begin with good intentions, but, as
Germans would say they are 'nicht consequent' and slip into speaking the dominant
language with the child because it is easier, causes less shouting, is considered
socially acceptable etc.

Bringing up a bilingual child is a relentless task - if one slips too much, one loses.
It means never condescending to the child's desire for you to speak to them in their
dominant language, making sure the child watches/listens to TV or audio books in the
secondary language as much as the dominant language, ignoring incorrect truisms from
teachers that it somehow slows the child down linguistically, and all the other
pressures to conform to the dominant language.

As shk00design says, it also means that reading, writing and grammar books have to be
used at a later stage - where I live all the French and Chinese children seem to go to
Saturday school from the age of 4 onward, although the Germans seem to think that once
a month is good enough (and then they just watch old Pippi Langstrumpf videos :-/)

1 person has voted this message useful



cod2
Groupie
United Kingdom
Joined 3151 days ago

48 posts - 69 votes 

 
 Message 37 of 37
29 March 2015 at 12:06pm | IP Logged 
cod2 wrote:
We have raised our daughter to be
bilingual. We are Indians living in England and our
mother tongue is Bengali. The credit goes to my wife –
as I am extremely laid back about all this.

Our daughter is almost ten. She was born in England, so
her English is of course at native level. She speaks in
native-level Bengali but with a very faint accent. She
can read and write but those abilities are a little
behind her speech. Her grasp of the spoken language
is way ahead of Indian children (living in India) of
her age. She can have a serious conversation with any
adult and she can crack Bengali jokes.

My wife never speaks in English at home. When she was
younger, my daughter would often speak to my wife
in English, but my wife either wouldn’t answer, or
answer in Bengali. Rules were thus established.
Evenings are homework time. After my daughter finishes
her school homework, she does her Bengali
homework,using school books that my wife brings over
regularly from India…. Yes, my wife is very determined.

Although sometimes both I and my daughter resented my
wife’s single-minded focus, bordering on obsessiveness,
I now see the result and I am proud of what the girls
have achieved.

In the beginning expect the child to protest a lot.
Also expect them to mix up the two languages from time
to time – and leave the carers at the day-care totally
confused.

I speak to my daughter in both Bengali and English.

Hope this helps.


I forgot to mention one extremely important point. When
you start teaching a small child another language at
home, you have to make the lessons as fun as possible.
Otherwise it's simply not going to work. You are
limited only by your imagination.

I drew lots of cartoons to teach my daughter the
Bengali alphabet. Then when teaching sentence
construction, we let her form sentences with various
rude words and names of bodily functions (equivalents
of poo, wee-wee, snot and so on). We had an absolute
blast.

Edited by cod2 on 29 March 2015 at 12:10pm



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