Anybody bringing up their children bilingually?

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Anybody bringing up their children bilingually?

Postby Eren » Fri Apr 04, 2008 11:29 pm

I`m just curious if anybody has any advice about bringing up children bilingually. Here`s my situation. I am British, my dh is Japanese and we live in Japan. I intend on using English and Dh will use Japanese. At the moment dh doesn`t speak English and I speak Japanese with him, but I`m hoping he`ll gradually learn and we`ll be able to use more English at home since our children will go to Japanese schools. I know I`m going to have to make a real effort to keep up their English when there`s no real use for it out here, apart from with me!!

I`ve read a couple of books on bilingualism, but I`m more interested in real life experiences! Hope you can help. Thanks.
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Postby Ji » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:00 am

No real life advice just yet, since we are only in the early stages ourselves!

Our situation is kind of the opposite. I'm Australian, DH is Cambodian but speaks excellent English. I speak Khmer, but not nearly as well as DH's English, so our home tends to be an English environment. At the moment we're living in HK and our son will probably go to preschool here, adding a third (and possible fourth) language to the mix.

I'm actually a trained language teacher, so I did a lot of research about this topic when we finally got pregnant. Advice is mixed. Some say that parents should use their own language and not mix them, thus you use only English and your husband only Japanese. Others say this doesn't matter.

Generally speaking, bilingual kids tend to speak a little later than monolingual kids. When they do speak, their language is at a higher level than initial speech of monolingual children. And it stays higher, literacy levels of bilingual kids are well above those of monolingual children :D

We're following the 'one parent one language' idea, but not strictly. DS is 11 weeks old, but I speak to him about 85% English, the rest in Khmer. DH speaks to him about 70% Khmer. We're really going to try and keep our home as Khmer as possible because English will certainly be dominant once he starts school.

For some good quality reading on the subject, look for Jim Cummins or Pauline Gibbons. And a good book, Tizard, B. & Hughes, M. 1984, Young Children Learning, Talking and Thinking at Home and at School, Fontana, London.

Feel free to PM me, this is something I'm pretty passionate about!
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Postby Eren » Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:04 pm

Wow thanks for the post and thanks for the references. I am just about to start my Language Aquisition module actually for an MA in Applied Linguistics, so hopefully I can apply some of the stuff I learn to my situation. :) Unfortunately I miscarried a couple of days ago, but I am going to try again and hope to get a stickier bfp soon. Your son is gorgeous by the way! :) That`s cool that he`ll grow up speaking three or four languages. In Japan the main foreign language is English - I`ll try and get my children into a third language class though... maybe Chinese or Korean or another European language. I guess I should concentrate on getting and staying pregnant first though, before getting too carried away. lol.
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Postby Ji » Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:58 pm

I'm really sorry for your loss. :hugs: I hope you get a sticky bean soon.

You'll probably come across Jim Cummins in your studies, he's the language acquisition dude. Good luck with your MA, I'm half way through mine now, but DS is quite the distraction... I think it will take me a while to finish!

BTW, Korean is a GREAT language to learn. I majored in Korean at uni (Ji's my Korean name) and studied in Seoul for about 16 months. And Korean food is the BEST!

Where in Japan are you? DH and I spent 10 days in Kochi last year visiting friends and hanging out at the Yosakoi festival. I love Japan, it is so quiet compared with HK!
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Postby Eren » Thu Apr 17, 2008 9:31 pm

Kochi would have been quiet!! lol. I live in Yamaguchi prefecture which is pretty quiet itself. I hope to move to Hokkaido though in a couple of years! (I prefer a colder climate to a hot humid one!)
You know I went to Hong Kong for 3 days on the way back to the UK last summer. It was great but hot!! I`ve been to Seoul before too. So if you studied Korean, how come you left and ended up in Hong Kong?? Mind you I studied French, Italian and Spanish at Uni but ended up in Japan! lol.
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Postby Ji » Sun Apr 20, 2008 5:44 pm

Oooh I'd love to go to Hokkaido, isn't that where there are hot springs with super hairy fluffy monkeys hanging around?

We're in HK for a few reasons. We were living in Cambodia, I was there for nearly three years but had non-stop health issues and Cambodia is not the place to be stuck in intensive care :? . We were always running out of money because I was in hospital so much. My parents have lived in HK for years and had been pushing us to come here for the $ and great health care. So that's why. We're close to my parents (they live next door!) and we now have enough money that DH can be a SAHD. And the quality of health care here is really very good.

It's stinking hot here already. And soooo humid. Yueerk.

Are you in the JET program? How did you learn Japanese?
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Postby Eren » Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:03 pm

Hi - I sent you a pm
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Postby eh_ep » Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:10 am

I just wanted to add my $0.02.....

I was brought up bilingually.....sort of...
both my parents were born and raised in Hungary, my dad left when he was 18 and my mom when they got married (she was 37 and my dad was 44) They moved to canada...since this was the first time my mom was in Canada she didn't know a word of english....

so naturally me and my brother grew up speaking hungarian...in fact I didn't know a word of english until I went to kindergarden (I went when I was 4 and remember it very well) the best part was that I was in a special class of 3 students...the other 2 were both japanese so they could at least talk to each other!!!

I learned english very fast and had no real problems with the language....my brother had a bit harder time and was put in a remeidial (sp??) class in elementary...but now he has his masters in physics!!!!

But I love the idea of a bilingual home....I speak hungarian to my mom (she still has trouble with english sometimes) and I speak english to my dad ( his english is very good since he's been learning and speaking it since he was 18)

go for it!!!!!!the child will have a better understanding of language and different cultures!!!!
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Postby Eren » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:06 pm

Thanks for sharing your experiences eh ep!!! Just hope I get a bfp some time this century... lol
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Postby BlueLily » Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:41 am

I don't have personal experience however my 2 nieces, currently 2 and 5 yrs old, are being raised bilingually. Since they were born my sister only speaks English to them and her husband only Spanish. Both sets of grandparents live in town and they speak English with my parents and Spanish with my BILs parents. Their English is better than their Spanish simply because they spend more time with my sister and my mom and now the 5yr old is in school which is of course English. My BIL and sister speak English with each other (my sis can understand Spanish but speaking it is not as easy). As the 5 year old has gotten older though, I think her Spanish is definitely improving.

My 2 cents would be to not respond if they try to speak to you in Japanese, tell them you don't understand and they need to speak English. My BIL did that and I think it worked for them. He would always say it in a funny way though, not serious. GL! Its fun to watch my nieces speak two languages. It may take a little extra effort of your part but I think it is so worth it.
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Postby toyotagrl81 » Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:58 pm

i know this post started a few months ago but.... my DH was brought up bilingual, he spoke French first and then learned English when he started school. his extended family lives in canada but his parents and sister are here in the US so he doesn't get as much practice with his French any more, but i have expressed to him and his family that i want them to speak French to the baby so it will learn (and so will i hopefully), i am looking forward to it working out. my family is Spanish and Italian, but there are really no more relitives around us who speak it anymore, so i am not too worried about those languages, and the dominate language they teach in schools here is Spanish and there are a lot of Hispanic people in our community anyway so it is bound to learn that too, lol.
are there interactive books we can buy for babies to help learn languages in a fun way?
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Postby bluedisc » Thu Aug 07, 2008 3:10 am

Hi,
My dp was brought up in a bilingual home - he's the oldest of six children with a French dad and and English mum, being brought up in France.
The youngest is now early 20s.
In their house, the parents still tak to their little ones in their own languages!!
I've noticed with dp that he has bad spelling in both languages....oh well!
There is a point when the children are very small when they can mix words from both languages together - but it's a stage that sorts itself out in time.
We're in Ireland so English is the language spoken by nearly everyone here.
There are lots of families from Eastern Europe and from Brazil though, and some from China and other countries, who must be speaking their own languages at home, while the little ones are learning English at school. But that's another story....
Dp works away a lot and we're only just starting to teach ds French. I can speak some French as well, but am barely fluent/semi-fluent compared to dp.
As it's unlikely we'll live in France in the future, ds is really only learning for family pride:)
His brothers and one of his sisters have married people from India and China - the children are still very small. The ones that live in France are speaking Hindi in the home, and the brother in China has children that are too young to talk yet - I think they're both speaking their own languages to the children so far.
Good luck with your little ones.
I was also in Japan for two years in Chiba prefecture - in a backwater where nothing happened also (JET programme) - I would have liked to have learned better Japanese but everyone always wanted to speak English as I was their first native speaker in that area....so I can only make basic conversation which I'm forgetting:(
I have better Russian from studying that and spending time over there for university, but I haven't spoken the language for some time - and the place will have changed so much since I was last there (early nineties) that they'll have a very different vocab now....
Out of the two places, I'd feel a lot safer going back to visit Japan with the little ones!
Hope you get your move to Hokkaido - snow and potatoes, I was told....
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Postby mybabydos » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:02 pm

Im from Costa Rica and Dh is from here (USA), and are girls are learning both leguages (spanish and english), specially dd1 (she is 3.5 years old), she is doing good so far, sometimes she have hard time try to explain or say something. Dd2 she is 13 months old, and we are teaching both lenguages too.

I hope helps!
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Postby Eren » Wed Aug 27, 2008 6:02 am

I`m glad this post is still going... :) Unfortunately I`m still not pregnant, but hopefully will be in the not tooooooooo distant future!!

Brionne - I was a JET for three years too! Such fun. :) I was really in the sticks though. I found that it was great for my Japanese though. No one spoke English - even the English teachers!! Ha ha. (Well they were good at explaining grammar points at least. lol)
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Postby stuckunderhere » Thu Oct 16, 2008 7:18 am

Yeah. Starting off bilingual (French with me, English with DF) and then eventually, once he's like 7-8yrs old, we'll start the Spanish for DF's family.
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