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Feeling guilty not speaking danish with my children

(21 Posts)
danskerilondon Sun 28-Jun-20 22:51:21

I moved to the UK 10 years ago, English is not my first language I grew up speaking danish back home. Since having children all I’ve done is speak English with them. They’re now 7 , 6 and 4. And I’m really annoyed with myself that I haven’t spoken danish with them from birth, and taught them my language. Sometimes I’m like, this is it I’m going to teach them danish and I speak danish for a day or so, then switch over to English as the day goes. It’s so much easier to just speak English as thats what they’re used to. Sometimes I feel like it’s too late, I’ve left it for too long. If I start now and speak danish with them everyday at home, do you think they would one day become fluent? I get so jealous when I see some mums speak Spanish or whatever language they speak besides English to their babies who can’t even talk yet, and I just think to myself that’s what I should have done!! 😔

OP’s posts: |
Redolent Sun 28-Jun-20 22:55:57

Don’t be hard on yourself. Even for those who started out speaking our mother tongue, the majority language can take over very quickly.

Switching to just speaking Danish is a big leap. Why don’t you set aside even 30 minutes a day where you speak Danish only? It can be an activity or even a certain routine. That might make it more manageable. And certainly supplement with other activities.

MushyPeasAreTheDevilsFood Sun 28-Jun-20 22:58:07

Start now!

calmcoolandcollected Sun 28-Jun-20 23:01:20

I grew up bilingual, spoke one language with my mother, English with my father.

If you speak Danish to them now, they will pick it up within six months. But you have to continue speaking Danish, primarily, throughout their childhoods and even as teens.

NeilTheBaby Sun 28-Jun-20 23:01:30

Start now! One thing I'd love is the ability to be truly bilingual. It's such a great gift to be able to give your children. At their age they'll pick it up quickly enough. Children are like sponges.

I had a child join my class from another country once at the age of 9. She barely spoke a word at first but within the year she was fluent.

Euclid Sun 28-Jun-20 23:05:59

You have to be very disciplined for this. Is their father a native English speaker? If so, if each parent speaks his/her language from birth the children will be bilingual. It is more difficult to start when the children are older.
I am not a doctor but it is something to do with the way that very small children assimilate language.
I have two English girlfriends who each married a "foreign" man. One was disciplined and her children are now bilingual in English and Italian, their father's tongue. The other was lazy about it and her only child, now early 20s, is pretty poor at English.

KetoWinnie Sun 28-Jun-20 23:07:13

Are there any age appropriate danish tv shows that you could all sit and watch together?

Put them on duolingo and reward them as they go up a level.

Camomila Sun 28-Jun-20 23:10:20

I'm exactly the same with Italian blush
Luckily DS2 is only 5m so I can start again, DS1 is 4 and I guess will just pick it up? Maybe?

Do you have any relatives back in Denmark? I find it hard to talk Italian to myself but I always speak to DM in Italian and that gets my brain thinking in Italian.

parietal Sun 28-Jun-20 23:12:51

It is VERY hard for one parent to do all the language teaching, especially beyond the baby stage. Language learning works much better if you are part of a community to speak the language.

If you really 100% want to do this, then look for Danish saturday schools in your area - there are definitely some in London - and sign your kids up. Also Duolingo + Danish cartoons (e.g. get Peppa Pig in Danish) + Danish books etc. And you would need to be very disciplined about only speaking Danish to the kids AND try to make them speak Danish to each other.

But our family (faced with exactly the same issue) just gave up. With no relatives back in the Denmark, there really doesn't seem to be much benefit to my kids learning Danish. And we are lazy.

danskerilondon Sun 28-Jun-20 23:14:36

Thank you, you've all given me hope smile I'll
start tomorrow morning at breakfast. I've been thinking about taking them to this danish church in North London, they also have a Saturday school where they speak danish with the children, teaching them how to read in danish, they do different activities and sing together. I think that and speaking danish at home would be really beneficial. They start in September and close in may, but don't know if they'll open again in September because of the pandemic. But we're definitely going as soon as they open.

And yes their father is English, doesn't speak any other language.

OP’s posts: |
danskerilondon Sun 28-Jun-20 23:16:13

Cross post @parietal er du dansker?

OP’s posts: |
danskerilondon Sun 28-Jun-20 23:18:47

@Camomila yes we go back once a year, and I speak danish with my mum and sister on the phone every day. They've picked up words like NEJ which means NO in Englishgrin but that's it.

Thanks I'll try duo lingo

OP’s posts: |
SimonJT Sun 28-Jun-20 23:21:46

You still have time to start, you could always begin by setting challenges such as start with 30 minutes a day. I started learning English when I was eight (when we moved here), I was fairly fluent within the year.

English isn’t my first language either, I was speaking exclusively Urdu at home until my boyfriend moved in for lockdown, I still only speak to my son in Urdu at home. He is good at both, but I would say he is more fluent in Urdu than English, especially at the moment as he hadn’t been to school on such a long time.

Nisse23 Sun 28-Jun-20 23:37:24

As someone learning Danish now (I moved to Denmark) I wouldn’t recommend Danish on DuoLingo, I’ve found it next to useless - a lot of the pronunciation is off/vocabulary is unusual. Proper language classes/chatting to my partner/watching Danish TV is much more useful.

But please teach them - it’s incredibly difficult learning as an adult!

corythatwas Mon 29-Jun-20 00:16:55

It's not a question of either "perfect bilingual, speak Danish every day" or nothing. You can start gently, with a few phrases, then build on that. Teach them some songs. Find a comic or some story books. Get hold of some DVDs. Build up gradually. Any Danish is better than no Danish.

StrawberrySquash Mon 29-Jun-20 00:32:18

It's definitely still worth doing now. They are still young enough that it will be easier for them than if they they tried to learn as teenagers or adults. The brain is more plastic when they are younger.

Gibbonsgibbonsgibbons Mon 29-Jun-20 00:37:57

A friend switched ALL the DVDs to French ones as a way to increase her daughter’s exposure (her DH didn’t speak french)
I wonder if there is a brilliant Dutch kids program/cartoon you could get them into?
Can you set Dutch as default language in Netflix or whatever?

Longdistance Mon 29-Jun-20 00:43:43

My dds are 9 and 10. I was brought up bilingual. We moved to another country when dds were little so had very limited contact with df and dm who I spoke to in our other language. Dds don’t speak this language but if dm speaks to them, they seem to understand. I’m cross I haven’t taught them, but the plan was for my dps to be around when they were little, but we ended up living the other side of the world. We returned, but by this point dds were older.

PolkadotsAndMoonbeams Mon 29-Jun-20 00:44:14

Do try - I think if you learn it from being little it's much easier. I never really thought about it when I was a child, but I'm a bit sad about it now (especially as I can speak a second language, but it isn't the one my relatives speak!).

I can do some foods, colours, phrases etc, but think I'd need night classes and really work at it to be even conversational level now. It would have been so much easier if I'd learnt more when I was little.

giantangryrooster Mon 29-Jun-20 01:14:30

Do get started smile. When they are 12-14 i know there are good summer schools for expats.

Google bonanza, there is a lot of TV programmes, children shows new and old.

itswhereitsat Mon 29-Jun-20 05:53:36

Start now! My two speak Arabic, DH has spoken to them in Arabic since they were babies and I speak to them in English. They switch between the two languages seamlessly without any effort at all. We never divert from this. I know people that have adopted this method later on and it still works but do it now before they get much older.

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