New to all this... 3 quick questions

(7 Posts)
gloti Thu 16-May-13 12:02:58

I am 29 weeks pregnant and planning to bring up my child with two languages from day one.
I am Spanish and my other half is English, we live in London. I have been reading lots of articles and comments on the subject but I would like to know what are the most effective methods to bring your children up in a bilingual environment.
My concerns/questions are:
1. my son will spend most of the time with me and therefore speaking in Spanish, will this affect his English? This is important to me because we live here and I don't want him to be behind or not be able to communicate properly in this country.
2. I know I am meant to always speak spanish to him and my OH will only speak English, so what happens when we are all having time together as a family? Dad understands a bit of Spanish but he's def not fluent!
3. What do I do when it is just my son and I in public doing errands, meeting other mums and children for play dates etc.? Do I stick to the Spanish or talk to him in the language everyone else is using?

Im really sorry if these questions have already been asked and answered a million times, I will appreciate any advice!

CarpeVinum Thu 16-May-13 12:17:55

1. my son will spend most of the time with me and therefore speaking in Spanish, will this affect his English? This is important to me because we live here and I don't want him to be behind or not be able to communicate properly in this country.

His Spanishmay be stronger when small, but the second he leaves the nest for any sort of time (pre school etc.) the tables will turn and you might have to put some elbow grease into keeping Spanish going in the active skill sets. Don't panic if he invents Spanglish words. It can go on for a while.

2. I know I am meant to always speak spanish to him and my OH will only speak English, so what happens when we are all having time together as a family? Dad understands a bit of Spanish but he's def not fluent!

18 years together and my husband STILL doesn't really speak English. His comprehension has improved enourmously since DS came along though. I speak English in the home, DH speaks Italian, DS flips between the two. DH sometimes looks quizzical but DS helps him out.

3. What do I do when it is just my son and I in public doing errands, meeting other mums and children for play dates etc.? Do I stick to the Spanish or talk to him in the language everyone else is using?

In public, as in us two out and about shopping etc. we speak English. In a social setting we generally go with the language in common, Italian.

CarpeVinum Thu 16-May-13 12:19:41

Oh DS is nearly 13. Just to give context to his translating for his dad thing. He is no child genius just out of nappies and doing simultanious translation.

I wish grin

UptoapointLordCopper Thu 16-May-13 19:17:30

I do Chinese, DH does English, we live in London, DH understands sufficient Chinese.

1) Agree with CarpeVinum. You have to keep up with the vocabulary of everything they learn in English in school. Though I find doing homework in Chinese useful in introducing terms like parallelogram in Chinese which you won't normally do ... The only thing I find difficult is the introduction of rude words. grin These are things you learn from peers, and they haven't got Chinese-speaking peers.

2) Agree with CarpeVinum too.

3) If I address DC I speak in Chinese and then translate. If I address DC + friends I speak in English and repeat to DC in Chinese. confused

gloti Sat 18-May-13 11:29:57

thanks ladies I want to do this properly but want to be flexible and as I have seen kids taking a dislike to the minority language because they see it as a chore or feel forced to speak it.
thanks for the advice x

UptoapointLordCopper Sat 18-May-13 11:37:37

Yes - fun is the key. Lots of stories, jokes, fairy tales, comics etc etc. Think fun fun fun. smile

noramum Mon 20-May-13 16:39:37

1. my son will spend most of the time with me and therefore speaking in Spanish, will this affect his English? This is important to me because we live here and I don't want him to be behind or not be able to communicate properly in this country.

As long as you make sure that he has English influence it should be ok. Send him early to nursery maybe instead of waiting until 3 (if you are a SAHM). Get your OH to be active at bedtime reading, let them have lots of time together at weekends without you.

Go to playgroups and maybe some structured activities where he can meet English children. Maybe some including singing rhymes as this expand his vocabulary.

2. I know I am meant to always speak spanish to him and my OH will only speak English, so what happens when we are all having time together as a family? Dad understands a bit of Spanish but he's def not fluent!

You could introduce English as family time if otherwise your OH's influence is not so much. Or you could "bully" your OH to learn Spanish, this is how my friend managed to get her husband to learn the minority language.

3. What do I do when it is just my son and I in public doing errands, meeting other mums and children for play dates etc.? Do I stick to the Spanish or talk to him in the language everyone else is using?

When I am just shopping, at the library, in a coffee shop etc I speak German. I will also speak German if I just address DD. If I am in a group and address several people I speak English. I gave up saying everything twice.

We live in an area with lots of expats (commuting distance to central London) so it is not unusual to hear lots of different languages.

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