Post by Laura Catherine on Sept 2, 2018 21:38:11 GMT 9
Hola! My daughter is 18 months and I speak to her exclusively in Spanish. We don't belong to a Spanish-speaking community, but I am a Spanish teacher. Before she was born, my husband was going to be her English input, but he really got into learning Spanish and now speaks around 80% of the time to her in Spanish. I'm really proud of his entusiasmo and support! My daughter says six words total and they're in Spanish (which makes me so proud!). I don't want to dial back any of her Spanish from either of us because I want to give her this opportunity of rich input before the English world takes over in her life.
People are starting to ask us how she will learn English. My husband and I know that even though Spanish is the ML for now, English will be the ML for the rest of her life once she starts school (can't afford our city's dual-immersion school, but she'll go to the Concordia Language Villages for summer camp every year). We're just not concerned about her picking up English, but so many other people seem to be that I wonder if we maybe should be more concerned. In my mind, if she goes to preschool knowing colors, numbers, etc. in Spanish, while there might be a period of confusion, she'll eventually learn them in English (same with other things). I'm hoping she'll learn phrases to interact with other kids as she plays with them these next few years and when she starts school. Or will she just be confused and isolated?
I know ml@h is a strategy people employ, which is essentially what we're doing. I'm wondering if we're being too lax on getting her English, though. Any support or ideas would be appreciated!
Don't worry, all monolinguals say that to ml@home parents! We're also a ml@h family, and we get that all the time.
It will get better once your daughter starts speaking in English and these people will realise your child really is bilingual. Though you will then start worrying about your daughter losing her minority language (ml) under the influence of the Majority Language (ML) at school!
To avoid any confusion when schooling time comes, have you thought of paving the way by having your daughter looked after by a ML-speaking babysitter on a regular basis, or spending more time with their ML-speaking grandparents?
By the way, does your daughter understand when ML-speakers such as her grandparents speak to her? If so, that could be an argument to fend off well-intended people "worrying" that your daughter might not speak the ML.
Monolinguals often cannot fathom the idea that a baby can handle more than one language because the adults can't do it themselves. We have a friend who has always been a bit mocking at our choice of trilingual education. One day he came over for dinner and his jaw literally fell when he heard for the first time my eldest speak fluently in ml to me. (Karma can taste so sweet when it finally comes round. )
The bilingual journey is full of nay-sayers and well-intended persons. Just smile and walk past. Follow your journey.
***"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars" - Oscar Wilde***
Laura Catherine, I would agree completely with Amy's helpful advice. I know it's uncomfortable when people pose such questions, but the fact is, even if you did nothing at all to support the development of her English side, she will still acquire fluent English in preschool, as many children of non-English-speaking immigrants have done throughout U.S. history (including some of my own ancestors).
So the issue, then, isn't "How will she learn English?"--because, of course, she will--but "How can you help ease her transition into the English environment of schooling without undercutting your own productive efforts to nurture her language development in Spanish?"
As Amy suggests, I would strongly second the idea of seeking out other speakers of English to spend regular time with your daughter. (But you needn't overdo it--an hour or two a week, and maybe more when preschool is approaching--would be enough to get her going. Your aim, after all, is to "ease her transition to schooling," not "achieve fluency prior to schooling," which could compete with your early and beneficial head start in Spanish.) See this post at Bilingual Monkeys for further ideas...
Once you've put in place this English support, not only will it be helpful for your daughter's transition to preschool, but it will likely make it easier for you to respond to others' "concerns" about your daughter learning English because you can then explain that she'll acquire English just fine from these other speakers and from school.
Let us know how it goes, Laura Catherine!
Adam Beck is the founder of Bilingual Monkeys and The Bilingual Zoo, and the author of the popular non-fiction book Maximize Your Child's Bilingual Ability amzn.to/22XKuCt and the humorous novel How I Lost My Ear amzn.to/2EsjVRS, both available worldwide.
I just wanted to let you know that this was almost exactly my daughter’s language scenario at 18 months. I am a non-native ml speaker living in the US but I was home with her and only spoke Spanish (our ml). When my ML mom would babysit, I would leave her a list of words and their translation so she could understand my daughter.
My daughter is now 7 years old and speaks both languages beautifully. Her ML is probably stronger, although she speaks ml very easily. At age 3 her ML exploded. She learned from friends, cousins, grandparents, neighbors, etc. Just wanted to encourage you from someone who’s been there before.
I was in a similar situation years ago with my daughter, except that my husband also spoke 100% in the ml, so there was no ML input at home, other than when both parents talked to each other.
Each child is different. Some pick up both languages at the same time -like my son-, some others speak the environment language and ignore the ml, and some -like my daughter- ignore the environment and decide to speak only in the ml. This happened until the age of 3, when she realized she needed the ML to play with other children, so she started using it. Children are very practical.
My daughter is now 5 and her ML isn't as good as her classmates', but her ml isn't as good as that of a monolingual ml child either. She's spending 50% of her time in each language, while monolinguals spend 100% of their time in just one language. But she's only 5. When I look at the bigger picture, I realize she'll speak perfectly in the ML before long. Monolinguals may master their one language earlier than her, but she's catching up and will get there eventually. So if we have to wait a little longer for an extra language, so be it. I'm now counting hours in the ml to make sure she still gets enough ml exposure. I'm not worried about the ML: it's everywhere!!
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Veda L: A happy belated new year to all keepers! Any quick tips on how to edit profile (kids’ ages etc)? I’ve fumbled about with no luck. Thanks!
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Mayken: Adam Beck, thanks for sharing the impressions of your trip to China! I love those duck boats and that doorway! And meeting those kids wanting to speak English with you is so amazing!(I won't enter the giveaway because I'm afraid of winning the chicken claws!)
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Feb 7, 2019 0:08:00 GMT 9
Amy: Bless!! how cute is that!!! Reminds me of a similar thing that happened with my youngest when she was 18 months: she said the sound right for every animal but the cow. She kept answering "Lola" because of a famous Spanish nursery rhyme about a cow!
Feb 7, 2019 0:40:09 GMT 9
Alba: My son caught us by surprise when we said thank you (in English) to a waiter in a Mexican restaurant, and he said "gracias" (thank you) to him too in Spanish, also signing it! He was having a blast and there was some Spanish music in the background.
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Adam Beck: Sounds like a wonderful moment, Alba!
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