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5 year old learning a new language

(31 Posts)
learninganewlanguage Sat 14-May-16 19:58:17

Would really appreciate any advice on this. We are living abroad for 3 years, and dc has been going to the local school for about 6 months.

DC isn't picking up the local language. The only words she knows are words I have taught her (I am about 50 per cent fluent). The teacher either does not have the time or the inclination to help and tells me that because DC is very intelligent she should be fluent by now.

I have started teaching DC at home to supplement what she is (not) learning at school. I have taught DC quite a lot of maths and reading etc over the last 6 months to keep her up with what is happening in the UK, and DC learns really quickly and is ahead and loves it. However, with the language, she only remembers a new word for a few seconds and when another is introduced she forgets the first one.. She really seems to have huge problems with it. She also doesn't seem keen to concentrate on it which might be because she is finding it difficult. Should I just keep at it? On the face of it, it seems to be a "working time memory" problem, but she doesn't have the same problem when learning other things... she loves reading and picks up new words in English in a flash and never forgets them, and she has always been like that.

Thanks, if anyone can help.

Junosmum Sat 14-May-16 20:04:15

Does she play out of school with native speakers of the language?

araiba Sat 14-May-16 20:24:07

is she with local kids at school or is it an international program?

does she play with local kids/ interact with locals at all?

learninganewlanguage Sat 14-May-16 20:35:46

Thanks for the replies. She plays with local children and it is a local school, not an international school. There are however other English children and she talks to them. She plays with local children but talks to them in English and they talk back in French and the play is mostly doing not talking, with the locals. She saves the talking for the English children.

Moonlightceleste Sat 14-May-16 20:39:19

My DD1 came to us speaking Russian and Romanian, very little English. Two years on she's at a bilingual school (English and French) and coping absolutely fine, but the first few months were a struggle. She actually picked up the French much faster. Immersion is key. We did lots of Disney films, reading, extra curricular stuff so she had more exposure. School were really good about it but as it's an immersion school a lot of the kids in her class didn't have a lot of French before they started, so I don't know if they were better set up for it.

I never did words either with her as such, I just talked to her. I think they pick up faster if they're actually immersed in it constantly, often they'll understand the word in context even if they don't know it stand alone. I found that when I learnt English, anyway.

Moonlightceleste Sat 14-May-16 20:42:06

Ah okay, just seen she talks in English to the English children. DD1 goes to a Russian class outside of school and school were always really good about encouraging her to speak English and French. They really need to be practicing regularly or they won't pick it up as fast.

CoteDAzur Sat 14-May-16 20:44:40

Get a French babysitter who doesn't speak any English.

Organise playdates with French children who don't speak English.

Cartoons on TV & DVDs only in French from now on.

IDontBelieveAnything Sat 14-May-16 20:47:03

My experience is that kids this age often take a while to learn the new language but that they all seem to get it eventually. You often hear people saying that kids are like sponges and will be speaking fluently before you know it but that didn't seem to be the experience of all my many friends. Their kids are all now truly bilingual but it didn't happen overnight.

We moved from country to country with our DCs and I found that although they were sometimes behind or ahead of their school mates it all came out in the wash and didn't make any difference in the long run.

SouperSal Sat 14-May-16 20:47:25

Thousands of children learn Welsh at school aged 4 or 5 through immersion. Give your DD time.

learninganewlanguage Sat 14-May-16 20:48:00

Hi moonlightceleste, I think probably that the school was teaching the new languages (from what you say) as well as relying on immersion?

Immersion isn't working because there is always a choice, someone to talk to in English or someone to translate. I am sure that if there were no other English children she would be learning a lot faster.

araiba Sat 14-May-16 20:49:10

well shes not gonna learn french if she never uses it and sticks to only speaking english

i lived in a country that didnt speak english and it can be hard. people think that you will pick up the new language just by living there but its more than that- you have to make an effort to learn. and if you dont know a single word to start with, you have nothing to build on and its just drone that you ignore. if you give her a prod in the right direction and also give her some basics, she will quickly get into the swing of things

CoteDAzur Sat 14-May-16 20:54:12

"Should I just keep at it? On the face of it, it seems to be a "working time memory" problem"

Of course you should keep at it. You live in France, your child goes to a French school & has French friends. Presumably, so do you. What else are you going to do.

What is a "working time memory problem"?

hollinhurst84 Sat 14-May-16 20:55:22

Immersion. I learnt French from 4 by having a music teacher who would only speak French to me and I had to reply in French

Moonlightceleste Sat 14-May-16 20:57:20

Ah sorry, I mean given they take in children who haven't had a lot of French every year and teach them half in French they were possibly better set up for DD arriving with limited English as well than a non immersion school would be. I don't know. Are you in Quebec or France? Mine watch Disney La Chaine more than they do Disney channel now, and we aren't Québécois!

Frimplepants Sat 14-May-16 20:59:59

I think she will still be learning it. My DD understands a bit of her third language, but won't speak it. We were advised though, that I should only speak to her in English, DH in his language and she will pick the third up at school or through play. Unless you are fluent, then you will teach her mistakes, which won't help in the long run. To be honest, she has only just started speaking to DH in his language, (4) and always speaks English and assumes she will be understood!

What greatly increased her understanding of her third language was a dvd that she really wanted, but only available in language 3. I always offer a choice of language when they watch a film, so as not to force it on them. They will often choose 2nd or 3rd, but when tired, want it in English.

I have also enrolled them in clubs where the teacher doesn't speak to them in English. If you can have a word first then as long as the leader only speaks French and doesn't (or your DD doesn't know they) speak English, it should help.

We were advised the single most important thing is a consistent language per person and that the child sees and hears you speaking the other language.

She will still be learning through play, keep giving her the opportunity and at some point she will want to communicate with the others.

CoteDAzur Sat 14-May-16 21:00:50

You say you've been living there for 3 years, since your DD was 2. Have you been socialising only with Anglophone expats for the past 3 years?

How come your DD did not start maternelle two years ago?

Frimplepants Sat 14-May-16 21:01:32

cote I think she means they will be there for 3 years.

araiba Sat 14-May-16 21:03:01

when youre together, you can help by saying it in english and french and having her repeat

you- where is your shirt? ou est votre chemise?
dd- ou est votre chemise? in my room
you- dans ma chambre
dd- dans ma chambre etc etc

disclaimer- gcse french was a long time ago

Kennington Sat 14-May-16 21:04:59

Agree with songs and Disney films to support learning.
Basic phrases being taught rather than individual words too.
You could also try speaking to her a little in the language too. Am surprised the school isn't doing much though.

Lweji Sat 14-May-16 21:07:00

Actually, I think it will happen and it will just come out suddenly.
I'd stop teaching in English, if that's what you're doing, and find a French tutor.

anotherdayanothersquabble Sat 14-May-16 21:07:11

She will be learning it and will be picking it up. Children do acquire language at different rates, give her time.

reader77 Sat 14-May-16 21:08:42

Keep at it, kids understand far more than they speak for ages. It took my kids about 9 months I think.

Artandco Sat 14-May-16 21:08:59

If she's been there 3 years already I would say she does know it and chooses not to speak it atm

araiba Sat 14-May-16 21:12:43

-If she's been there 3 years already I would say she does know it and chooses not to speak it atm*

reading comprehension is a good language skill to learn

CoteDAzur Sat 14-May-16 21:12:53

Ah sorry about the misunderstanding, OP.

Please don't repeat everything you say in French, even if you are able to.

Bring a native French speaker into your DD's life - housekeeper, babysitter, cleaner, etc who spends one-on-one time with her and speaks no English.

TV only in French for her from now on. Teletubbies are good for the purpose of language acquisition because they repeat each word slowly and a hundred times.

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