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Author Topic: LO started to say first words in majority language. Shall I ignore or encourage?  (Read 13008 times)
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« on: March 24, 2015, 01:27:40 PM »

I think I have made a mistake with my first child. I haven't reinforced minority (second) language from the start (too much going on, no one else in our surroundings speaks the language, etc. and also - half-consciously I have made a decision based on some credible studies  that if the child is able to communicate early (-er) and easier with bigger vocabulary - it would be easier for them in school and to excel in academic studies. And I am the major carer for my child, so no one else could have given her this knowledge at this age. This part is definitely true - she is now 4, everyone comments on her command of English (community) language, very chatty and confident girl, makes up her own (very intricate stories) and her language skills are of a child 2-3 years her senior. And she started to read just before she turned 4. The problem is with her second (minority) language. While understanding most of it ( but not to the extent of her English - I have to dubb more difficult words and concepts) she is very reluctant to speak it. I have taken to reminding her to speak it every time she addresses me and sometimes she does, but I can see how difficult it is for her. No chance of reading in it so far - I was not very consistent with my flash cards  sniff
So - we learn on our mistakes and fix it on our second children  smile
My other daughter is 14 months now and is starting to say a lot of words, unfortunately all of them English. And on one hand my heart bursts with joy when she is shouting out her words and being so proud of herself that she is saying them - on the other hand I am worried that it would be the same as with my 1st daughter. Shall I ignore her first English words and just repeat those words in minority language and if yes -  would it not hinder any language and confidence development? Most of the first words are much easier and shorter for a baby to say in English rather then in my language - would she not just give up on both until  much later (I heard some kids start talking only at 3!)
Any first-hand experiences greatly appreciated

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« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2015, 05:46:05 PM »

Following...I'm curious to know as well.

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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2015, 04:45:21 PM »

I was in the same boat a few months ago.  My baby started becoming very verbal, but all in English!  Luckily kids this age learn language incredibly fast!  thumbs up I started making Spanish a priority and now she can speak short sentences in both English and Spanish!  I didn't discourage the English though.  Just changed what I was doing. 

My older son speaks Spanish but is much better in English too.  It is a lot harder with him, but we have been making changes and are seeing positive results there too.  I have been making a point to teach (re-teach) him.  I know I also have to provide him more input because he forgets a lot of words.  We are doing our own files in Spanish on LR, reading more books in Spanish, flashcards (he thinks they are for the baby)   tongue more conversation (I think it helps to have a special time for the minority language..."okay during breakfast it's going to be all Spanish!"), I also bought the game Hedbanz and we play in Spanish.  It is great to get kids to verbalize.  I let him know it is okay if he doesn't know how to say something he can always do you say _______?  Another game I plan to buy is Guess Who?  Which is also great for getting kids to verbalize.  Last, we are going to a Spanish playgroup and I think that has helped give him motivation to try to speak Spanish.  We talk a lot about how your brain really needs you to say things in Spanish to learn it...not just hear/think it.

Anyway, it takes effort to get kids very comfortable with the minority language but it can be done!  But, for very little kids its super EASY.  Just talk to them!  Good luck!


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« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2015, 07:14:17 PM »

I don't have much experience. My son is 2y10m. He started speaking at 2y4m. Our majority language is English, my language is Russian. His first words were English words for a while, because as you said they are much easier to pronounce. I did not discourage him but I kept speaking Russian to him, read Russian books, show cartoons in Russian, talk to my parents in Russia on skype and did LR Russian. He slowly started blending in Russian words that he could pronounce. Right now, he speaks Russian to me and in a Russian speaking environment, and English to my husband and in an English speaking environment. He speaks in sentences in both languages. Both my husband and I used to tell him often that Daddy speaks/understands English, Mommy speaks/understands Russian. Finding Russian speaking friends (just one family) sparked his interest in Russian, too. Also, I had 2 Russian friends visiting us this winter, one stayed for a week, the other for 2 weeks. I think it is important for a kid to see as many people speaking the languages as possible (you may be able to arrange that on skype?). I would say do not discourage him speaking English, but look for short/easy words in minority language and introduce them to him. It is also possible that your older daughter will get more interested in the minority language seeing you and the younger sibling speaking the language. Good luck!

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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2015, 09:18:57 AM »

Thanks everyone who replied. I have bought a book "bringing up bilingual children" and there's a lot of good ideas in it. I am pushing with minority language, turning on internet radio during the day (hubby is not happy with energy consumption- TV or PC have to stay on all the time while it's playing) I've started to show cartoons in minority language as well to the older daughter, although I'm not happy with too much of the screen time - as with lessons and some educational games it all adds up. Younger daughter is trying to say something in minority language and failing all the time, as for 1-syllable English word there's 2-3 or 4 syllable ford in minority language,  smile but bless her - she's still trying!
We'll see how it goes this time

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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2015, 02:37:11 AM »

I think encouraging what the kids do know is great.  I know my neighbors only responded to their daughter in their language when she spoke English.  They didn't force her to speak (they encouraged it) but they made sure she could at least understand by only speaking to her in the language.  I wish I could, but be haven't been able to be that strict as sometimes its easier to just go back to English, but my wife tries.

I also agree with @oasis, finding a friend that speaks the language is super encouraging, especially if that friend doesn't speak English well.  It's not possible for everyone, but if you get that friend it's amazing the difference.

Before having any friends that speak the language my son didn't even try if he didn't know ALL the words to say.   

Then we found friends that come over (one near his age another a few years older) and he was super motivated to learn.  After a short while he was speaking with more vigor and confidence (with a few English words mixed in as he was learning).

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« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2015, 10:05:28 PM »

I have known several families using two or three languages, including my grandchildren.  So here are some ideas.  With my grandchildren, the MOM speaks German (1st language) and English for the second.  The DAD's languages are First English, then German and Japanese, and they live in Germany and are surrounded by German.  So with the older boy, they started him on YBCR at 8 weeks and did lots of flashcards.  He learned to REad and speak English at the same time.  By age 2 and 2 months he could read HOP on POP, and continued reading English.  He picked up phonics and learned to read German very easily.  Also I found many clips on Youtube, including Mr. Thorne's phonics program, and I made about 50 DVDs of Youtube clips emphasizing English and general knowledge.  Also I read stories on the webcam and saved them to DVD.  For a while we did Skype about an hour every week, and I read stories and sang songs -- all of this was very helpful.  He went to Japanese school on Saturdays for 3 years, and my son read Japanese with him every night., although he can't speak it very well, he can understand it.   He speaks German as his first language and his English is very good, although he has to think about it.  He is in Grade 1 (in German school) and reads at a Grade 4 level.  He's been reading chapter books in English since he was 4.   His sister is 3.6 and speaks very little English and doesn't read much in any language.  The parents say that they are too busy.    They haven't had much time for the DVDs and Skype is only half an hour 2-3 times a year.  If you can find any one to Skype with that is very useful, or a babysitter speaking the second language.  They can read stories and sing songs in the languages of your choice.   Download clips from Youtube and save them to memory stick or DVD.  Teach READING in both languages starting as babies.  Those are my thoughts.

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