Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:26:00 +0000Geralde Vincent-BancroftSocial migration is transforming the world. People decide more and more to move to a foreign country for a number of reasons. Marriages are more common between residents of different countries. Often these speak dissimilar languages.In such cases which language should their children speak?
Social migration is transforming the world. People decide more and more to move to a foreign country for a number of reasons. Marriages are more common between residents of different countries. Often these speak dissimilar languages.In such cases which language should their children speak?
There are various scenarios.
I was raised in a bilingual environment. At home, both my parents spoke French and my sister and I went to French schools whilst living in Spanish-speaking countries. We learnt Spanish by watching TV and playing with our Non-French-Speaking friends.
When I got married, I moved to England my husband’s country of birth. His knowledge of French and Spanish is rudimentary. We speak English at home. When I got pregnant, I decided I was going to speak French to my daughter and did so up to the time she started Nursery ( Preschool). By then, she would always answer back in English in a conversation. I got fed up and carried on speaking to her in English ( Wrong).
I have a Mexican Friend married to an English man. He speaks proficient Spanish. They speak Spanish at home and English in the community.
You can guess both outcomes, can’t you?
My daughter, although she still understands French, is unable to speak fluently. My friend’s children despite the fact that they refuse to use Spanish at home sometimes, are fully bilingual.
Here are some advice from the one who learned a lesson the hard way.
Raising bilingual or multilingual children will take some planning ahead of the arrival of the children. You should have a language plan set up with the help of your spouse. I suggest you follow the Opol Method.
The Opol Method is one person one language method. For example in my case, my husband would always address my daughter in English and I would always converse with her in French, no matter her reaction. Surprisingly for some, it is extraordinary to notice how easy it is for children to switch effortlessly from one language to the other identifying to whom to speak each of them since a young age.
In cases where both parents’tongue is different from the language spoken in the community, the Opol Method still works. Each parent speaks their own language with the child, and he/she learns the third language in the community AKA school and friends.
So, what language should you speak when helping with homework?
You should help with homework and assignments using the community language. Make sure that all the verbal interaction around that homework remains in the native language of the one helping with the assignment.
Give all instructions and explanations in the native language. Discuss passages and their meaning in the native language.
It is acceptable for bilingual people to alternate between two languages. For example my sister and I we often communicate in” Franpagnol” ( French+Spanish) or “Spanglish” ( Spanish+English). It is fine, it’s part of who we are: multilingual.
Unlike me and my daughter, you should persist in speaking your mother tongue with your children. it’s part of their culture and besides they need to hear quality and quantity language input to have strong language skills. You’re the only one who can provide this framework.
If you live in a country where the language is different from your mother tongue, what tips do you use to make your children learn your language? It would be useful if you let me know in the comments.