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Monday, March 23, 2015

Question from full-time working parents of Indonesian heritage, who live in Japan and would like their child to speak both Indonesian and English with full literacy in the second.


Q&A full-time working parents passing on heritage language and English

 

Question from full-time working parents of Indonesian heritage, who live in Japan and would like their 2 years old child to speak both Indonesian and English with full literacy in the second. Languages in question: Japanese, Indonesian and English.




Question:
Hello Galina,

Me and my husband are Indonesians, we got married 2 years ago and now blessed with a 7-month old baby girl. We live in Tokyo and both full-time working parents. Having been stayed in Japan for more than 17 years, husband speaks, reads, and writes Japanese just like a native. While for me, Japanese is still truly a FOREIGN language, and I'm happy enough when I can get my errands done using my limited Japanese.

Our baby now starts to form words (although 1 syllable) and this is the time when me and hubby need to decide on what language we will use at home. She will be going to Japanese childcare in 2 months and until now we are talking in Indonesian to her. Although at times, we say things in English like "good morning" or simple instruction.

Our desire is to have our child be able to understand Indonesian (at least verbally) and have good literacy in English. Japanese is "banned" from home and request my husband to speak only Indonesian when baby is around. We believe 11 hours of Japanese exposure a day will be more than enough for her to easily pick up the language without even trying.
At home, we agreed to use Indonesian at home verbally but yet all the books, CDs, TVs, games will only be in English.

My concern given our limited time with her as she will spend most of her time being exposed to Japanese, how do we help her acquire Indonesian and English. Moreover, I am particularly would like her to be an English-literate child for future educational benefit. I have read many articles and it is mainly said that we need to create the "need" and "exposure" for the child to the foreign languages.

I would like to get your opinions and others' too. Given limited time we can spend on daily basis with her, what would be the best tip to help her acquire Indonesian and English.
Any tips to make this journey smoother? and what we need to watch for?
And if there is any other working parents who have successfully raising a trilingual/bilingual child, we would really much like to hear.

Best Regards
Cikki

Answer:

Hi Cikki,

It is wonderful that your daughter is trying to say her first words! I believe that even if you are a busy parent you can pass on your heritage language and teach her a third language - English.

I think your language strategy should work; however, I would make some adjustments. Especially if your and your spouse's parents (your child's grandparents) do not speak other languages (English or Japanese ) besides Indonesian.

I would concentrate on Indonesian until your daughter starts speaking it well at around age of 2-3 and then start increasing the English language input. At age of 3 she will be progressing in learning English very fast, if she has a strong language base built in another language. This base you have been building already by speaking Indonesian to your little girl from birth.

Start reading books in Indonesian to her (When to start reading to a baby? ) Later, after your child celebrates her 1st birthday, add one English book reading per week. Your goal is to increase the quantity of English books read after her 3d birthday.

As of media, I would play it in both languages. Just tell your child what language it will be in. ( Read Naming languages with their proper name.  )

I know you say that you do not want your child to be literate in Indonesian, but I think you could teach her Indonesian letters, if you start with this activity early enough, and later you could teach her English. Just to give you an example, my 3 and 5 years old children are able to read in the minority language, Russian. The older child learnt how to read in the community language ( Italian) on his own and now is asking me how to read English words.

Think about it. And read the following articles on the topic:

How to develop early phonemic awareness and reading readiness by using language play with kids from birth to preschool

7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read

Also I would start already looking for other sources of English language input, in order to have an idea how much English language input you as parents would need to provide to meet your multilingual parenting goal. Is there bilingual kindergarten in the area? What about bilingual schools? When will English be taught at schools? Are there English classes for children?

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions and good luck on your trilingual family journey!

Regards, Galina




Are you bringing up a bilingual or multilingual child or are you a parent to be and have a question? 

Feel free to contact me.

For privacy protection I can change your name and omit some personal details, if you wish. 



Are you a multilingual family and looking for a playdate in your language? Click here to find it now!


You might also like:

7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings.  

How to read to a baby? Advice for parents of monolingual, bilingual or multilingual children. 

Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language. Resources for Teaching Phonics and Reading to Children.

Bilingualism and speech delay. How can you help?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Life Story of one family. Educational Apps – How they affect multilingual development of small children?


We, parents, who are raising bilingual or multilingual children and live far from our home land, often struggle to find resources in our heritage language. This story is from a parent whose quest for so needed resources in Greek lead her into something I find utterly wonderful. Read Maria Patsatzi story to find it out. She is raising her children trilingually in German, Greek and English.
 

Well, I'm not an expert. I can only speak from my experience and therefore the question mark stays!!

But let's start by introducing. My name is Maria and I was raised as a monolingual Greek. Since I came to Germany (2008), communication language with my German husband has been English, which was the only foreign language that I could speak and write fluently then. In the meantime, I really struggled with German and have gotten quite much of it on a good level!

Our sons, born 2011 and 2013 in Germany, are raised trilingual from the very first day of their life. We never thought of doing it differently, but also not even doing it like this! It all comes naturally for them and for us and I think this is a strong indication that we are mainly on a good way. Well, I can't deny that very often I have been reading and asking opinions of specialists on that, but it never occurred to me to measure somehow the result of their progress, first of all because I experience it every day and secondly because I think that it would only give extra stress to everybody of us and this we do certainly not need in our lives. The biggest concern that I must admit having in the past, was whether we as parents should maintain our communication language in English or switch to German, in order not to “confuse” the children. Well, there the opinion of a specialist really unblocked us, explaining how our communicating in a third language might be even better for them! He considered it better when the children receive equivalent exposure to each of the parents' language at home and therefore he implied that our speaking a third language between us was ideal! So, today both my boys speak Greek with me and German with their father, while they also get English “in the air”.

The amount of every used language varies according to their exposure to it. So, since my older son has started at the German daycare, Greek tends to become now really a minority language to him and even to my smaller one, as his older brother tends to speak now with him more in German. This is not only natural, but also good for integration reasons and therefore I do not try to influence this decision at all. However, I have been thinking ways to increase their exposure to Greek, since the older one doesn't get any more the same amount from me.

One day our older son asked to play with Papa's smartphone and another day with my tablet. As technology professionals, such gadgets could not be missing from our everyday life, though they are not such a major part of it. Soon, we realized that these gadgets would be soon a part of our children's life as well, which I must say was not such an easy thing to digest, as we are far aware of the dangers that are hidden behind them for such small children and even for adults sometimes! After the first negative thoughts, we soon were looking for ways to influence our children's first contact with technology on a positive way. So, we have started downloading educational Apps, mostly in German and English, as (to my disappointment) very little was available in Greek. So, my son started learning animals, plants, vehicles, colors, letters, numbers and many other things in these two languages! But not in Greek!

And then it hit us... if he can really learn something out of this, why not create our OWN Apps in Greek, in order to increase his exposure to the language! And so it started... Our first educational App in Greek is already published in the Google App Store after the name ΜΑΘΑΙΝΩ ΤΑ ΖΩΑ (learning the animals) and gets to receive quite some attention over the last time:  . This App was made with a lot of love for our boys and I think that this is also the key to success! We decided to include no advertising at all, as we considered that this would be catastrophic for such small children and thus we focused only on how to make the procedure of learning animals highly comprehensive and fun for children who start to talk. And it worked! Well, now we continue already with more Apps like this, which are inspired again from our little boys and soon they will be published, too.

What makes it work? I have been giving a lot of thought on whether this procedure of learning is good or how good it is and so on. I have been reading articles of appreciation and criticism and have even gotten such responses myself on this. And they are all right, all of them! Every tool that we have can be useful or catastrophic, depending on the use that we make out of it. There are many good educational Apps for our children in the net, especially for language learning purposes, but if by this what comes into your mind is children who are left playing alone for hours on a sofa with electronic devices, while the parents are occupied with other staff, then DO NOT download them! Despite I know that it also works like this sometimes, however this must be an exception!

In our every day life with the kids, we often enjoy a lot reading a book with them and letting them learn something out of this, as well as swiping on the tablet screen and hearing mummy's voice naming the animals and then repeating them. Both ways, we give all of our love. And they do learn, both ways. Thereafter, I can only conclude out of our own experiences, as non- expert caring parents that our children need mainly us. An educational App can't substitute parents or teachers, but it is a very effective tool to learn something very very fast. In our case, it has increased dramatically the exposure to Greek words that my kids do not hear from me every day. Well, this I call a success!


                                                ----

Please contact me, if you are interested to participate in the Life Story series and write about your experience as a bilingual or multilingual child and/or a parent. Or take part in the Multilingual Family Interview series.


Are you a multilingual family and looking for a playdate in your language or another family to chat with? Click here to find it now!



You might also like reading:


7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings. 

Would like to teach your child English phonics? Check this interview for the resources:When your home languages are different from community language. 

Life Story: Trilingual mama - trilingual kid. Why would it be any other way? 

Raising Bilingual / Multilingual child. Where to start?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Q&A: Trilingual parent-to-be would like to raise a trilingual child and worries that her monolingual husband and his side of the family would be uncomfortable. What can be done to avoid a possible tension in the family? Could it affect the child's language learning?


Question from parents who want to raise trilingual child English Chinese and French

Question from a trilingual parent-to-be (English, Chinese, French), who would like to raise a trilingual child and  pass onto him both of her language Chinese and French. She is concerned about her  monolingual  husband (English) and relatives being surrounded by languages they don't understand and wonders, if this can have a negative effect on child's  language learning.


Note: This question was originally posted in a comment field on Multilingual Family Language Strategies page. My answer to it was too long (it happen again!) to fit as a single comment, so I decided to publish it as a separate post.
 

Question:
Hi Galina,

Your website is such a wealth of information. I am glad to find it.

I have a dilemma and I was wondering if you have any advice. I am trilingual (English, Chinese, French) and my husband is monolingual (English), and we live in an English speaking country. We do not have children yet but are planning for that now, and, being multilingual, of course it is important to me to do my best to raise multilingual children. My husband is supportive of the idea, but he has some concerns.

Since he is monolingual, he's afraid he will feel left out in our family dynamics. On the other hand, since we live in an English speaking country and our family language, at least between my husband and I, and my husband and our children, will also be English, I'm concerned about exposure to our minority languages.

Ideally I would do OPOL, starting with Chinese, and later introducing French on my own or through school. But I'm worried that my husband's discomfort will be palpable, and our children will not want to speak in the minority languages because they can sense their father's discomfort. I'm also worried a similar discomfort if I were to speak a minority language with my children around my husband's family, who are all monolingual.

I am proud of my languages and how trilingualism has given me so many benefits in my life, but I do not know how to address my husband and his family's natural discomfort at being around languages they don't understand.

Betsy

Answer:

Dear Betsy,

How wonderful that you are trilingual yourself and planning to raise your future child trilingual as well!

It is good that you started thinking about your family dynamics in relation to languages before your baby comes to this world.

Your concern is not without grounds and you would need to seat together with your husband again and thoroughly discuss everything.
How much is he willing to do for the children's trilingualism? Can he listen to you and your child speaking a language he does not understand and wait for a translation? Is he willing to learn one of your languages?

If your husband does not speak the language you will be speaking to your child, he most likely will feel left out. It will not happen right away, but slowly as your conversations become more complex and hence more difficult to translate for him all the time. The only solution to this problem I see is for your husband to start learning to speak one of your languages before your child will be born. I think French could be easer for him to learn, but that will require some changes in your plans.

Were you considering to speak both French and Chinese to your child ?
I would speak Chinese, when left with the baby alone, and French, when together with your husband and your child. You husband should be able to learn the language, if he is immersed in it. Start speaking French to him right away. Make labels around the house see also Multilingual Families: 8 Quick & Effective Ways to Learn Your Spouse’s Language, For the Busy Parent for great tips. Language learning will require some effort on your husbands side, but he will see the benefits of being bilingual very fast. Besides delaying the symptoms of Alzheimer disease (AD) , you both can go to Paris and your husband can order you a glass of wine then ;) Plus, knowing your and your child's language will give a bond and an extra connection to you both. If things go well you could even make French as a family language later on.

Also it's good to start evaluating your options of bilingual kindergartens and schools. Check, if there are any weekend schools or courses of French or Chinese for kids were you live / plan to live. Connect with other parents speaking French and Chinese. Depending on what language support you can find, you might want to consider focusing more on one or another language.

Your husband's relatives have to be prepared for the fact that you are planing to have a bilingual / trilingual baby. Small children adore their grandparents and take everything they say very close. It is best if you have their full support. You can not ask them to start studying your languages, but you could start educating them on the topic of bilingualism by sharing articles, suggesting books to read and simply talking about it. It is possible that the grandparents are not up to date on the recent research and look at bilingualism as a disadvantage, rather than an advantage. Please also read my suggestions regarding possible support partner's parents can provide in the answer I gave to a question from a parent, whose heritage language is different from community language.

Some thoughts regarding your possible discomfort while speaking to your trilingual child the language others do not understand. If order for a child to use a language, you need to provide opportunities and create a need to use that language. If he sees that you do not stick to speaking it, he won't do it either. For these reasons I believe it is crucial to keep speaking to your child the language no matter who is near by and how they feel about it. Explain to them why you do it and provide a translation. Read this article where I discuss the reasoning for it in details : What language should I speak to my child in public? - Multilingual parent dilemma.  

Let me know what you decide and if you heed more help. Good luck!




Are you bringing up a bilingual or multilingual child or are you a parent to be and have a question? 

Read other parents questions and my answers in Multilingual Family Q&A Series

Feel free to contact me.

For privacy protection I can change your name and omit some personal details, if you wish. 



Are you a multilingual family and looking for a playdate in your language? Click here to find it now!


You might also like:

Q&A: Question from parents, whose heritage languages are different from community language. How to support the trilingual child's minority languages and keep them in balance.

Bilingualism and speech delay. How can you help? 

Exposing our kids to languages - Learn about our family language strategy and read great questions and answers in the article's comments. 


7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings.  

How to read to a baby? Advice for parents of monolingual, bilingual or multilingual children. 

Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language. Resources for Teaching Phonics and Reading to Children.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Trilingual Siblings Minority Language Progress Update. The Younger Sibling Is About to Enter Preschool.



My not yet fully trilingual daughter is 3 now. A big change is coming to our multilingual family life this fall. (This post was left in the draft state for some time. It should be dated as September 2014.) She will join her brother at a preschool. I closed the eyes on my worries on how it can affect siblings' minority language development and asked to assigned her to a class that is located in the same wing of my son's school building. The preschool, my children go to, has two wings with separate internal playgrounds and one big shared external playground. During bad weather months my children will meet each other everyday for a joined play with peers. I could separate them for the sake of preserving their Russian-only speech relationship, but I did not do it. The time they will spend together playing, developing their brother-sister relationship stands above my ambitious wishes for their trilingualism.

From now on I’m going to keep a closer look at how the community affects their minority language development.

I would like to sum up their progress so far. I look at their language development from a bilingual child perspective, as their third language - English - is still behind their Italian (community language) and Russian (minority language), both of which they speak equally fluently.


Bilingual siblings speak minority language only.

No matter who is around and how far I am from my children, they speak only minority language to each other. They even speak Russian among themselves, when staying with Italian grandparents. If you are raising a bilingual child and expecting a second one, check this  7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings.


Bilingual siblings read in the minority language.

Yes! Both of them, 3 years old and 5 years old, are reading now! Literacy is the biggest milestone in child’s development that will help him at school and in life. No stress at all. I just started early and followed these 7 simple principles to teach a child to read before school.


Planning ahead and adjusting our family language strategy
 
You would say: “Your children speak your heritage language to each other. It is a success.” And I would agree, that it is, so far. It proofs the importance of good planning ahead and not missing on any opportunity to expose your child to your heritage language.

When your child is born ( and even before), it is a good idea to think what your child’s language environment would be for at least next 5 years. So you can concentrate on the “right” language in the right time.

There are many things that you can not predict. In my case I found it extremely hard to stick to my plan after the birth of our second child. There was a pretty long period when both kids remained babies, because the jealousy kept the older one from growing up and acting as a toddler he was. I had to deal with issues that mothers of monolingual, bilingual or trilingual siblings deal, when their kids are very close in age. Those of you who had to go through it, know what I am talking about.
Constant plan adjustments are necessary throughout the multilingual family journey.


Do you have multilingual siblings? How was it for you when they were little?

If you would like to share your family experience, whatever it is good or bad, feel free to contact me.

Are you successfully raising bilingual or multilingual children? or do you have regrets about something you have not done on time? Please do not keep it for yourself, share it with other parents, by writing a comment or by contacting me for an Interview or by joining great contributors in the Life Story series. You will help thousands of readers!

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Planting a language tree. Does passive language learning work?   

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Question from parents, whose heritage languages are different from community language. How to support the trilingual child's minority languages and keep them in balance.



Question from parents, who have two different heritage languages (Greek and Italian) and live in the country, where a third language is spoken (English). Only one parent speaks the spouse's language. How to support the minority languages and keep trilingual child's languages in balance.

Note: This question was originally posted in a comment field on Multilingual Family Language Strategies page. My answer to it was too long to fit as a single comment, so I decided to publish it as a separate post.

Question:
Hi Galina

Love the website and have been reading about people's experiences with great interest.

I am a mother to a five month girl and would like to hear your thoughts on how we are raising her with 3 languages.

I am Greek native speaker and my partner is Italian native speaker. We live in the UK for over 10 years now. Our common language has always been English since the beginning but I have studied Italian to a beginner/pre intermediate level so that I can communicate with his family in Italy. He has never felt the need to learn Greek I guess as my family speak English very well.

Now that we have our daughter we have been doing the OPOL strategy. I spend a lot of time with her as I am not working so we speak in Greek, read and sing to her in Greek too. My partner does the same with Italian and I join in with Italian too.

As a family when we are all together I try to use Italian but I feel bad as maybe I should stick to Greek with her so she associates me just with Greek? Of course she hears us speaking to English at home too when we speak to one another, so she gets a lot of exposure in the community language already even at home.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this if there is something more we can do to support the minority languages. I worry more about Greek as I feel as soon as we are home as a family we have to switch to Italian/English so that my partner is not excluded. Should I continue to use Greek with her even with dad around? Any strategies to include him? Maybe explain to him what I say to our girl every time? I must say I have been doing this a little and he seems to be learning a lot listening to just us talking. But he is still very reluctant to use what he learns or he quickly forgets! I am bit worried about Greek being fazed out as Italian seem to be more dominant among us as a family.

Thank you! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

VG

Answer:

This is wonderful that you are bringing your child up trilingual in English, Italian and Greek!

I understand your concerns and hopefully my answer will help you.

By following multilingual families experience I feel that English is the most dominating language environment for a multilingual child to grow up in. I would advise you to look at things a little differently and do not think about each minority language influence individually (Greek and Italian), but for minority language influence you can provide in general. You and your husband would need to work together to keep your daughter's minority languages proficiency level grow. You have to accept that likely your daughter's proficiency in one of your home languages will be less than in another. All will depend on quantity and QUALITY of language input you both provide.

Together with your husband you need to develop short run and long run language strategies for your trilingual child. For example, I would use only Italian and Greek at home.

If I were you I would use Greek to speak to your daughter all the time! No matter where you are and what you do. You can always provide a translation or a brief outline of what you just said to your husband and to others. Read  What language should I speak to my child in public? - Multilingual parent dilemma.  and  What language multilingual family speaks at the table? to get the idea. Read also Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language.

Also I feel that your husband needs to start studying Greek in order to help the family keep the heritage languages in balance. Right now, while your child is still learning how to speak, is the best time to start. If he starts later, it will be more difficult to catch up with the level of complexity of your conversation with the daughter. Read this article, there are some great tips that can help your husband start learning: 8 Quick & Effective Ways to Learn Your Spouse’s Language, For the Busy Parent . Plan a vacation in Greece on the sea side, where you can find a language school, such that your husband can study Greek in the morning and join you at the beach in the afternoon. Since your trilingual child will have less exposure in Greek, I would start reading to her in that language now. Yes, you hear me right. This is the time when I started reading to my son. ( Bilingual child: when to start reading to your baby?) You do not have to read in other languages, Greek will be enough for now.

Do you have your relatives near by or only your husband's?
If yours are far away, I would ask your husband's relatives to support you. They do not need to do much, just speak well about toys and other things you and your daughter have that came from Greece, speak well about your language (Greek) with the granddaughter, express the happiness that she is learning to speak it. Even if this feels like nothing to us, adults, it means a lot to our children. I would ask the Italian grandparents to praise your daughter for knowing words in Greek. When your daughter starts saying something, they could ask, how she would say it in Greek. They could look at Greek books together and tell a story in Italian from pictures. This type of support and acceptance can go long way!

If your parents are far away, get them into your life through Skype. Our grandparents did some baby sitting for me as well (Virtual babysitters or Preserving grandchild - grandparent bond and keeping up the minority language with video calling. ;) Get your family over to you or visit them every year. Even if it feels hard to fit them all in a small apartment for a month, go for it as your child needs it and she will benefit from having them close. Remember, children need grandparents the most while they are small and their friends as they grow older.

Thinking long term, what preschool, school will your child go to? Is there a possibility to send your little girl to a bilingual kindergarten with Greek or Italian as a second language? When you answer these questions, you will understand what country you should choose for long stay vacations. You are lucky to live in Europe and have Greece and Italy just hours away :)

Good luck with your family's multilingual journey! and let me know if you have more questions.




Are you bringing up a bilingual or multilingual child or are you a parent to be and have a question? 

Feel free to contact me.

For privacy protection I can change your name and omit some personal details, if you wish. 



Are you a multilingual family and looking for a playdate in your language? Click here to find it now!


You might also like:

7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings.  

How to read to a baby? Advice for parents of monolingual, bilingual or multilingual children. 

Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language. Resources for Teaching Phonics and Reading to Children.

Bilingualism and speech delay. How can you help?

Monday, February 9, 2015

How Minority Language Speaking Parent Helps Bilingual Children With Homework.


by Emilia Pallado

Emilia Pallado has already shared with you the list of children's books in Polish. Today she tells us about her experience as a minority language speaking parent with supporting her trilingual children with their homework. 

Our bilingual family language arrangement


I have two children. My son is 5 and my daughter is 8. They are both bilingual Spanish-Polish, with native-speaker levels in both languages. We live in Spain and they attend a local bilingual school (Spanish-English). On Saturdays they attend a Polish school.

Their English level is basic in case of my son and intermediate in case of my daughter. They both pronounce very well in English and understand a lot. Only recently my daughter has started to make longer sentences and she is now able to hold a simple conversation in English.

I communicate in Spanish with my Spanish husband but my language of communication with the children is Polish. I am a strong OPOL proponent, especially since I have seen it works great for families in our situation. The kids sometimes respond in Spanish, to which I respond in Polish, sometimes rephrasing what they said. Especially in situations when I know that the reason for their answering in Spanish was lacking vocabulary.

School and homework


My daughter Emma is in third grade in both Polish and Spanish-English bilingual school. Since first grade she brings a lot of homework, most of it is in Spanish.

At first we thought that my husband was going to be responsible for the Spanish part of the homework and that I would help with English and Polish (to keep a bit of balance). But things have turned out differently and even though sometimes this division works, most of the time I am the one helping with all the tasks.

There’s obviously no problem when the task is in Polish.

While doing English homework (which includes Natural Science and Arts & Crafts homework) we use Polish to communicate as my daughter doesn’t speak English fluently enough to switch completely. Although there are some parts of the conversation that we have in English, like for example reading the instructions aloud and translating only if necessary, saying “which page was that?” and the number in English. I also always praise her in English: “Great!”, “Well done!”, etc.

The challenge comes with the homework in Spanish. We usually use Polish but sometimes it is necessary to switch to Spanish, although I try to limit it to strictly indispensable part of conversation and would rather code-switch than switch completely. I would say that it is 90% of Polish on my part and about 30% on Emma’s part. It is definitely easier for her to talk in Spanish about the subjects related with school. Doing homework using our minority language is an opportunity to learn new vocabulary, too.

While doing maths I noticed that when we talk about a new concept, for example addition or multiplication, it is necessary for Emma to use Spanish. Once she has learned the new type of operation, she can use Polish to speak about it and make the operations.

When the task involves writing a short text (a summary or a composition), I usually ask my husband to take over. Translating back and forth seems a waste of time and is also confusing. If the only thing to do is to correct what Emma has already written, I do it and I point out the mistakes in Polish as she is familiar with concepts like (written) accent, coma, etc. If there’s a letter missing (common mistake), I will pronounce it in Spanish: “Tutaj wpisz jota”, “Hacer pisze się z hache”, etc. (“Write jota here”, We spell hacer with an hache”)

So far I have little experience with my son as he doesn’t bring homework yet. One thing we did this summer for the Spanish school was a sort of diary. We had to collect tickets, leaflets, etc. from the places we visited and glue them in a notebook, also make a drawing and write something. Naturally most of the conversation was in Polish, I would ask him to tell me what word he wanted to write and then he would answer either in Polish or in Spanish and I would write down the word in Spanish for him to copy. We would then read it aloud together to practice reading as well.

Bilingual child learns to read


Another thing I have already done with my son is help him learn to read. We practice in Polish with some simple words (up to 3 syllables), no diacritic signs, no digraphs. We also sometimes read a page or two from a syllabic reading book. In this case all conversation would be in Polish, I would only correct his reading in Spanish (“Co tu jest napisane? Ca…sa.). (“What does it say here? Ca… sa).

Share your family experience. How are you helping your bilingual child with homework?

 

I wonder how other multilingual families deal with homework and whether it is an issue at all. (Please leave your comment below). In our case the time we need to spend doing homework six days a week is an important part of the time we spend with our children. It will also certainly evolve with time and perhaps the pattern of communication is different when our second child starts to bring homework, too.

Emilia

You might also like:

7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read.

List of children's books in Polish language - Lista książek po Polsku dla dzieci

Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language. Plus resources for teaching phonics and reading to children in English.

7 facts that can determine the language spoken between multilingual siblings.


Are you a multilingual family and looking for a playdate in your language? Click here to find it now!


Monday, January 26, 2015

Multilingual Families: 8 Quick & Effective Ways to Learn Your Spouse’s Language, For the Busy Parent




by Paul Martin

A great thing about multilingual families is that the children have the invaluable opportunity to learn any of the languages that the parents speak. However, this comes with a tradeoff: if mom and dad speak different languages, one parent might struggle to understand the communication between the other parent and the child. This can inhibit family bonding time, and can be frustrating for everyone involved.

But don’t worry! There are plenty of easy-to-implement tips and tricks that can help you sneak in some extra practice in your spouse’s language. Even for parents who are pressed for time, this list will help you improve your language skills each day -- and more importantly, will make it easier for the whole family to communicate.


1. Make labels around the house


A great way to internalize names for useful, everyday objects is to make labels for various items around your house. For example, if you’re trying to learn French, ask your spouse to put labels with the French names on your appliances around the kitchen. This way, you’ll be constantly exposed to basic words in your target language, and you’ll memorize them without even realizing it.

2. Read comic books in the target language


Comic books are an especially great language-learning tool for two reasons. First, they’re fun, engaging, and quick -- they make for a perfect read when you have a few spare minutes at home, or on the subway on the way to work. Second, they are highly visual, so even if you don’t know some of the words, the pictures can help you figure out what they mean.

3. Watch movies and TV series with subtitles -- and pay attention


DVDs for most recent movies and series come with subtitles in several languages. If you’re just starting to learn a language, try watching your favorite series with subtitles in the target language. But be careful! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the action, and ignore the subtitles. Make sure that you’re really engaging with the subtitles to see how common words and phrases are pronounced in your target language. Pause frequently to make sure you understand what you’re reading, and when there’s something you don’t understand, make a note to ask your spouse for clarification.

If you don’t have subtitles for a particular movie or series, try searching for them online: there are several free websites that have subtitles available to download in many different languages. And once you’re comfortable enough to watch movies in the target language, check out some film suggestions for language learners , specifically selected to help you learn a plethora of new slang and colloquialisms.

4. Listen -- and sing along -- to music in the foreign language


Music is a great way to understand both the cultural and linguistic features of a given language. And with the internet, it’s available everywhere -- for almost any language, there are plenty of great resources with song suggestions from past to present. Songs are excellent for language learners, as you can follow along with the lyrics to learn new words and grammatical constructions -- all while enjoying some catchy tunes.

Load up your iPod with target-language songs to squeeze in some practice when you’re on the go -- and don’t forget to sing along! This way, you’ll be practicing both your listening and your speaking skills.

5. Release your inner child


Reading books can be challenging for language learners, as they’re often filled with complex language and advanced grammar. There’s an exception, however -- children’s books! Reading children’s books is a fantastic way to learn the basics of a foreign language, while at the same time revisiting some of your favorite reads from your childhood. Once you’re familiar with a book, show off your newfound knowledge -- and get in some speaking practice -- by reading it aloud to the whole family.

6. Find a pen pal


If you don’t have enough time to meet regularly with a language teacher and your spouse is not willing to take a role as such either, consider finding a pen pal on the internet with whom you can practice writing in the target language. Websites like Conversation Exchange allow you to create a free profile with speakers of any language, and communicate via email or Skype. It’s a great way to talk with native speakers, as well as practice your writing.

7. Set a regular time to speak the language at home


Once you feel comfortable enough to hold a conversation, set a fixed time each week to speak the language with your family. For example, if you’re trying to learn Chinese, you could make a household tradition of speaking only in Chinese at dinnertime on Friday. Or if you’d rather test the waters first, try spending a few minutes each day before bedtime speaking in the target language with just your spouse.

8. Track your progress


Learning a language is a slow process, and it’s easy to feel discouraged or get bogged down by details. Every few months, take an online level test to see how your language skills have progressed. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ve improved! And in addition, you’ll be able to see which areas you still struggle with, so you can focus your efforts on what needs the most work.

When learning a foreign language, practice makes perfect. But even if you don’t have hours to devote to studying a language, these tips and tricks will help you engage with your spouse’s language in your everyday life. With a little bit of effort each day, you’ll be well on your way to communicating more openly and freely with your family -- in whichever language you please.


Paul writes for Language Trainers, which provides individually-tailored language training on a one-on-one or small group basis worldwide. Language Trainers offers several free educational resources, such as audio-recorded listening tests. Don’t hesitate to email paul@languagetrainers.com or visit Language Trainers' Facebook page for more information. 




Note: The photos are provided by the author. The cover photo is a cut from the original one taken by  Lucia Sanchez and is licensed under CC by 2.0.

You might also like:

Get Your Hero to clean your home - Sweepstake. 

Q&A: Question from a bilingual parent-to-be about language choice. 

Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language.  

7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read.  


Are you a multilingual family and looking for a playdate in your language? Click here to find it now!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Q&A: Question from a bilingual parent-to-be about language choice.



Question from a bilingual parent-to-be with a monolingual spouse about language choice. They would like to raise a trilingual child, who would speak Korean, Indonesian & English.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Get Your Hero to clean your home - Sweepstake.



Do you live in Milan, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid or Paris? Are you tired of cleaning your apartment and putting toys in place? - Then this is for you!

Imagine that you can forget about cleaning your apartment for just one day. Leave your house, enjoy quality time together with your family, just to return to a place that shines and full of order!

Or you can use that extra 3 hours of free time to visit a beauty salon, have your hair done or just run some errands before St. Valentines?