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Raising Bilingual Children
 

Gambit_Lost
Level 3

Join date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3949

Jewbacca wrote:

The biggest thing we have to work on is not mixing languages; I do this now as an adult.


Thanks for the post!! Could you elaborate on this? Do you mean "English onlY" in "English time" or something else?


Billy Whizz wrote:

My tips would be to be diligint. If you're the English speaker in the home NEVER speak anything else to your child and make sure that your child, the majority of the time, answers in English. The same goes for your wife, just with Japanese.


First, thanks for the post. Actually this is a PERFECT question. I really was wondering about this. I know this is silly coming from "the west" but I want to make sure I teach my child that "non-Japanese folks" can actually speak Japanese (and conversely that Japanese people CAN be fluent in English). So I was hesitant about not speaking Japanese at all to him. It is a silly stereotype in Japan that I would prefer my child not have/know about as much as is possible. Although I'm sure s/he will if s/he looks more like me than like mom.

Also, others were talking about repeating phrases in both languages. Yet you seem to be advocating not a "house room/level change" or a "inside the house language and outside the house language" but a division based on native speaking. Could you elaborate on your thoughts?

Thanks again!

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Gambit_Lost
Level 3

Join date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3949

MangoMan305 wrote:
Speak to them constantly in whatever language you want them to learn. They'll learn english in school.

My parents only speak spanish.. I learned spanish from them and English from school. Yet I speak English perfectly yet struggle with spanish.


This is something that I worry about as well. I know a guy who grew up in Puerto Rico fluent in English and Spanish. He went to undergrad in the States and now claims he has a "language barrier" or sorts in Spanish. He's an Engineer and doesn't know how to properly translate INTO his native language! Kind of a problem with "language of education."

If my family remains in the States, I think we will have to supplement our child's education in order for them to learn "written" Japanese and make sure they are reading enough Japanese.

Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

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Billy Whizz
Level 1

Join date: Sep 2008
Posts: 303

Gambit_Lost wrote:
Jewbacca wrote:

The biggest thing we have to work on is not mixing languages; I do this now as an adult.


Thanks for the post!! Could you elaborate on this? Do you mean "English onlY" in "English time" or something else?


Billy Whizz wrote:

My tips would be to be diligint. If you're the English speaker in the home NEVER speak anything else to your child and make sure that your child, the majority of the time, answers in English. The same goes for your wife, just with Japanese.


First, thanks for the post. Actually this is a PERFECT question. I really was wondering about this. I know this is silly coming from "the west" but I want to make sure I teach my child that "non-Japanese folks" can actually speak Japanese (and conversely that Japanese people CAN be fluent in English). So I was hesitant about not speaking Japanese at all to him. It is a silly stereotype in Japan that I would prefer my child not have/know about as much as is possible. Although I'm sure s/he will if s/he looks more like me than like mom.

Also, others were talking about repeating phrases in both languages. Yet you seem to be advocating not a "house room/level change" or a "inside the house language and outside the house language" but a division based on native speaking. Could you elaborate on your thoughts?

Thanks again!


Regarding the stereotyping; If your child sees you understanding Japanese when your wife speaks it then your child will know that non-Japanese people CAN understand the language. And generally regarding stereotypes, I would figure that it's more important to raise your child to now have stereotypes than actually proving stereotypes wrong.

Stay away from any language that you aren't completely fluent in when speaking it to your child as you want your child to learn the vocabulary, grammer and pronounciation flawlessly and if you speak a language that isn't your own and make mistakes, your child will "inherit" this mistakes.

In all the families I have met (including my own) that are biliongual, the children have had complete proficiency in both languages if the parents were extremely diligent in speaking their own language to the child and insisting on the child answering in that language.

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Viernes
Level

Join date: Mar 2012
Posts: 161

Gambit_Lost wrote:
Also, others were talking about repeating phrases in both languages. Yet you seem to be advocating not a "house room/level change" or a "inside the house language and outside the house language" but a division based on native speaking. Could you elaborate on your thoughts?

Thanks again!


Regarding this:

We've made no language distinction in our household.

My son will hear/speak both Spanish and English outside the home, he should be used to it in the home. We do make him reply in whatever language we're speaking, but there isn't a language used exclusively in our house.

Again, I live in Southern California with a pretty big Mexican/American population. Spanish is heard/spoken here just as much as English. I'm surprised the road signs aren't written in both languages too!

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B.L.U. Ninja
Level

Join date: May 2009
Posts: 933

Viernes wrote:
I'm surprised the road signs aren't written in both languages too!


Good luck with that. Next thing you know California's gonna try to separate from the rest of America like those damn Quebecois.

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Diddy Ryder
Level 2

Join date: Nov 2010
Posts: 673

In the real world I'm a translator, and I spend a fair amount of time on a translators' forum:

http://www.proz.com/forum/81

That's a link to the forum on multilingual families, where there'll be a lot of people in a similar situation to you.

I hope it's useful to you!

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Gambit_Lost
Level 3

Join date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3949

Billy Whizz wrote:
Gambit_Lost wrote:
Jewbacca wrote:

The biggest thing we have to work on is not mixing languages; I do this now as an adult.


Thanks for the post!! Could you elaborate on this? Do you mean "English onlY" in "English time" or something else?


Billy Whizz wrote:

My tips would be to be diligint. If you're the English speaker in the home NEVER speak anything else to your child and make sure that your child, the majority of the time, answers in English. The same goes for your wife, just with Japanese.


First, thanks for the post. Actually this is a PERFECT question. I really was wondering about this. I know this is silly coming from "the west" but I want to make sure I teach my child that "non-Japanese folks" can actually speak Japanese (and conversely that Japanese people CAN be fluent in English). So I was hesitant about not speaking Japanese at all to him. It is a silly stereotype in Japan that I would prefer my child not have/know about as much as is possible. Although I'm sure s/he will if s/he looks more like me than like mom.

Also, others were talking about repeating phrases in both languages. Yet you seem to be advocating not a "house room/level change" or a "inside the house language and outside the house language" but a division based on native speaking. Could you elaborate on your thoughts?

Thanks again!


Regarding the stereotyping; If your child sees you understanding Japanese when your wife speaks it then your child will know that non-Japanese people CAN understand the language. And generally regarding stereotypes, I would figure that it's more important to raise your child to now have stereotypes than actually proving stereotypes wrong.

Stay away from any language that you aren't completely fluent in when speaking it to your child as you want your child to learn the vocabulary, grammer and pronounciation flawlessly and if you speak a language that isn't your own and make mistakes, your child will "inherit" this mistakes.

In all the families I have met (including my own) that are biliongual, the children have had complete proficiency in both languages if the parents were extremely diligent in speaking their own language to the child and insisting on the child answering in that language.


Thanks for the reply. Thinking a little more about it, I think that--for my family--the child will have to "overcome" the mistakes that Ma and Pa make in their non-native languages. We've just been together for too many years and speaking a mix of the languages for too many years to stop completely. It's a part of who we are at this point. Plus, if we are in the US my wife and I may be some of the few J-speakers s/he will know. Also, I know "Ma" will be quite vocal about my mistakes, so hopefully that will help. If s/he does "inherit" mistakes, we'll have to disabuse her/him of them. The same will happen conversely with English. Also, I wonder if formal education in the two languages won't clear up "mistakes" as it does for mistakes in the primary language. Regardless, I have to speak with my wife's family; she has to speak with my family. And that is all there is to it.

In all the families I have met (including my own) that are biliongual, the children have had complete proficiency in both languages if the parents were extremely diligent in speaking their own language to the child and insisting on the child answering in that language.


This is gold. I think you have made a good case though for "making sure" the child constantly hears and responds "correctly."

Thanks again!

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Gambit_Lost
Level 3

Join date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3949

Diddy Ryder wrote:
In the real world I'm a translator, and I spend a fair amount of time on a translators' forum:

http://www.proz.com/forum/81

That's a link to the forum on multilingual families, where there'll be a lot of people in a similar situation to you.

I hope it's useful to you!


Thanks! I'll check it out.

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Gambit_Lost
Level 3

Join date: Jul 2006
Posts: 3949

Viernes wrote:
Gambit_Lost wrote:
Also, others were talking about repeating phrases in both languages. Yet you seem to be advocating not a "house room/level change" or a "inside the house language and outside the house language" but a division based on native speaking. Could you elaborate on your thoughts?

Thanks again!


Regarding this:

We've made no language distinction in our household.

My son will hear/speak both Spanish and English outside the home, he should be used to it in the home. We do make him reply in whatever language we're speaking, but there isn't a language used exclusively in our house.

Again, I live in Southern California with a pretty big Mexican/American population. Spanish is heard/spoken here just as much as English. I'm surprised the road signs aren't written in both languages too!


This is interesting. Might I ask how old your son is? When did he start speaking? is he "native" in both languages? And did you do anything specifically to teach him? Are both you and your wife "native" in both languages?


This post reminds me of my college roommate. His parents were both native Polish speakers and English was their 2nd language. My roommate, however, spoke English natively and (according to him) wasn't so good in Polish. He didn't "inherit" their mistakes (I've spoken to them many times) or if he did, he "out-grew" them. However, he is not "native" in Polish... ...anyway, a random thought.

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Viernes
Level

Join date: Mar 2012
Posts: 161

Gambit_Lost wrote:
Viernes wrote:
Gambit_Lost wrote:
Also, others were talking about repeating phrases in both languages. Yet you seem to be advocating not a "house room/level change" or a "inside the house language and outside the house language" but a division based on native speaking. Could you elaborate on your thoughts?

Thanks again!


Regarding this:

We've made no language distinction in our household.

My son will hear/speak both Spanish and English outside the home, he should be used to it in the home. We do make him reply in whatever language we're speaking, but there isn't a language used exclusively in our house.

Again, I live in Southern California with a pretty big Mexican/American population. Spanish is heard/spoken here just as much as English. I'm surprised the road signs aren't written in both languages too!


This is interesting. Might I ask how old your son is? When did he start speaking? is he "native" in both languages? And did you do anything specifically to teach him? Are both you and your wife "native" in both languages?


This post reminds me of my college roommate. His parents were both native Polish speakers and English was their 2nd language. My roommate, however, spoke English natively and (according to him) wasn't so good in Polish. He didn't "inherit" their mistakes (I've spoken to them many times) or if he did, he "out-grew" them. However, he is not "native" in Polish... ...anyway, a random thought.


My son is almost 20 months, turns two in August. He started speaking at around 9 months, single words mostly. As for teaching him anything specific we centered on his basic needs and wants, but his nanny is where he's most immersed in Spanish. In our home we ride the line around 50/50 English and Spanish.

My wife learned Spanish as a teenager and has spoke it ever since, and has an undergrad degree in Spanish as well, so she's on top of the grammar and speaks more of a proper Spanish than what is typically spoken out in town.

So I wouldn't call her "native."

I'm still learning Spanish, I probably have the comprehension and speaking ability of a four year old.

As an aside, my 10 y/o niece who lives in Michigan and only knows spanish from what she learns in school spoke to my son in spanish and he laughed his balls off. I think hearing another child trying to speak the language must've sounded bizzare to him.


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OsakaNate
Level 4

Join date: Nov 2009
Posts: 281

Gambit_Lost wrote:

Thanks! You whole post was awesome. I'll check out this book.


One random question: How much should we ''separate'' the languages? I've heard about people using different rooms or ''levels'' of the house. For example, first floor is English, the second floor is Spanish.

I'm also worried about having ''enough'' of a Japanese environment for my kids. We have the converse problem as you have in Kansai. If my job DOES land us here, there is VERY little Japanese around. I'm hoping to nab a job in a location with more J-expats, but if we can't, then I'm wondering about how to make books and TV/movies enough. More skype with the inlaws? Maybe I just have to move to the east or west coast (USA).


Hi again.

Sorry I missed this--I only pop onto this site intermittently anymore these days.

As to your questions:

If it were me, living in Japan, the entire house would be English. I would let the outside environment and the in-laws' places take care of the Japanese. That being said, you could try the levels and see how it works for you.

One of my parents last year had two children in the kindergarten, one in K-3 (5-6 years old) and one in my class (K-1 - 3-4 years old). She had them have ''English time'' at home where they were supposed to speak English to each other, watch English-language DVDs and TV, and do their homework. That little girl was one of my best students, somewhat shy, but very intelligent and had great handwriting, especially for a 3-year-old.

Creating a Japanese environment in the US will of course be tricky, unless you're in an area like you describe. For your information, the north Dallas area also has a fairly large Japanese ex-pat community, as does Ohio (around the Toyota facility there, I think). I don't know your situation, obviously, but you could have your wife and child visit Japan during the summer vacation. It is possible to enroll your child in daycare or short-term school for those few months, which would expose them to both the language and the culture.

The lady who was the Japanese teacher at my university used to do this, as well as enroll her kids in Saturday school (in Dallas) for Japanese language, history, and other subjects. One of my friends (same guy who I mentioned in my first post, actually) also makes a point to take his kids back to the US during summer and winter vacation so they have a chance to visit their grandparents and experience summertime and Christmas in the US (where it is actually a real holiday, lol).

Anyway, if you are in the US it will fall more heavily to your wife getting the kids to speak Japanese, so you might have to reverse all of the other suggestions for that situation. If you are strict and, and this is the important bit here, consistent, you should be able to teach your kids to speak to you in English and to your wife in Japanese until they're old enough to recognize the difference and make that choice logically.

So, for my final thought, remember this caveat: I do not have children, yet. I am only a kindergarten/ESL teacher offering advice from the perspective of an educator. Of course, one day I may have kids, and I will be in this situation, so I think about it a lot.

Good luck.

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Tex Ag
Level 4

Join date: Jan 2008
Posts: 2811

^Three year olds write?

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OsakaNate
Level 4

Join date: Nov 2009
Posts: 281

Tex Ag wrote:
^Three year olds write?


Yes, in two languages.

As in, they practice handwriting with pencils--alphabet and hiragana, some short words--not composition. That starts in the second year (4-5-year-olds).

Some of my kids had great handwriting, others, not so much, but still good for 3 years old.

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optheta
Level 1

Join date: Feb 2009
Posts: 3592

Don't have kids they are blood sucking, money hungry, parasites that never leave you.

Trust me I know.

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