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Would you use a childminder who couldn't speak English?

(68 Posts)
dotcotton Wed 21-Feb-07 23:13:18

I've found a newly-registered childminder who i really like the idea of - nice, caring, mother of four, well set up with toys and books, clean home, completed courses and seems very committed etc etc.

But despite her having done several English courses it was quite difficult to communicate with her when i interviewed her. My dd will be one when she goes to her. She's assured me she'll be going to lots of groups locally so there will be contact with other children and minders, but i've got a bit of a nagging doubt that if dd is with her full time and she's not speaking fluent english, she may miss out on learning and it might be difficult for them to communicate once dd does start talking. Other than this i thought she was lovely and felt instinctively i could trust her with my dd so i'm a bit torn here.

What do you think?

Twinklemegan Wed 21-Feb-07 23:14:46

I definitely wouldn't. Not so much for my DC - more for me in terms of communication about DC's progress and needs.

ThePrisoner Wed 21-Feb-07 23:50:22

I've had the reverse, and have minded children (from different families) with no English at all, and the mum with little or no English. I didn't have a problem with it, although I worried that the children might get frustrated or upset (but they didn't).

It was sometimes a bit difficult to chat to the mums, but they were gradually improving their English-language skills anyway. We didn't ever have any horrendous "understanding-each-other" problems, we always managed to converse somehow. The idea was, obviously, that the whole family would be fluent in English, which is a totally different situation to yours (so I'm probably not helping, sorry!)

Do her own children speak Engish? Does she have other minded children yet? How old is your`dd?

dotcotton Thu 22-Feb-07 00:03:32

ThePrisoner you are helping, as the potential communication problems are the same. She has two older children, one is 15 and was translating a bit for us when i was round there! Two are at primary school and seemed to have pretty good english, and to be lovely kids which made me keen on her.

DD will be just over a year when she starts with her.

Ellbell Thu 22-Feb-07 00:09:29

You could look at it another way... Perhaps your dd will gain useful knowledge of another language from being with her.

ThePrisoner Thu 22-Feb-07 00:23:24

Would she be talking to your dd in English?

She must have managed to get through her childminding course somehow??

I suppose the problems would arise if you had a "complicated" issue (positive or negative) - am trying to think of an example ... for instance, would you have to say "no grapes" or would she understand "please cut grapes in half because dd might choke on them"?

I understand Twinklemegan's concern - it's easy enough to make small talk about having a good day, but you need to be sure that she understands the way you would like your child cared for (use XX cream if she's sore, always put a hat on her if it's cold, no Fruit Shoots, don't give any Calpol without checking with you first??)

One of the children I minded was German. My German is very limited, although my understanding is enough that I can say any written words. My own dd, who had good German skills, wrote down lots of questions like "would you like a drink/cuddle/biscuit?" or "what's that?" (so both child and I could learn each others language!)

nearlyfourbob Thu 22-Feb-07 04:22:43

If she is awake more with the minder than with you, then I would say "no". She does need to hear English spoken to learn to use it correctly.

MrsGoranVisnjic Thu 22-Feb-07 06:18:27

No how will you tell her things that you feel are important / find out things about your child's day?

Katymac Thu 22-Feb-07 07:36:39

I would think carefully about it

I (as a minder) have real difficulties getting some concepts and ideas across to the parents I mind for. All of us speak english

It might be that your conversations could get very blunt and abrupt as you try to communicate

The issue with your child learning their language is one you should consider along side the possibility of the child learning english with an accent.

I am not saying it ia a "bad" thing - just something that needs thought

It might be that all major communication would be done in writing? So limit misunderstandings?

dotcotton Thu 22-Feb-07 08:38:38

Sorry, went to bed after starting the thread! Yes that's the kind of thing i'm more worried about, her being able to report back to me abput dd's progress. She said that she would write things down in a diary but i dont know if that will make it easier when it's more complicated ideas. She will speak english to dd and she's obviously very keen to learn as has done 3 ESL courses at the local school.

The other thing i was thinking is that if she's out with dd at lots of groups etc - which she says she will be - that dd will hear english from native speakers as well. And she's on a network and has a good mentor who's Indian as well but with 20 years experience and better english. Would all this help or am i being naive cos i'm a bit desperate for childcare and everything else about her is great??

nearlyfourbob Thu 22-Feb-07 08:47:52

You learn language by having a go and getting it a bit wrong and having it repeated back to you correctly.

"I go-ed down the road mummy"

"Yes, I saw you. You went down the road on your bike".

I'm not sure from what you say that she would be able to do this.

edam Thu 22-Feb-07 08:50:51

No, not unless I wanted the child to learn the childminder's language. What if, God forbid, your child needed urgent medical attention while in her care? Could she communicate with NHS Direct/doctors or nurses?

edam Thu 22-Feb-07 08:52:02

(If she speaks Urdu or Mandarin your child will have a head start, though...)

dotcotton Thu 22-Feb-07 09:26:01

God i hadn't even thought about stuff like emergencies. but tbh i think the local doctor/hospital will be able to speak gujerati. On a more day to day basis i guess you're right, nfb - it might impede her learning language. Gah, she's the only childminder i've found so far that i would even contemplate leaving dd with for 5 minutes..!

eefs Thu 22-Feb-07 09:35:21

I wouldn't have a problem with this at all - my first childminder for DS1 (from 5 months to 3 yrs) spoke only Spanish - DS1 learnt to understand the Spanish and even spoke a little but there was no delay at all in his English. Even now at 6 he's forgotten most of the Spanish but still has a few words - I'm hoping when it comes to learning a language at school he'll find it that bit easier.

dotcotton Thu 22-Feb-07 09:43:04

Eefs what happened about your communication with the childminder? Did you find it a problem?

morocco Thu 22-Feb-07 09:55:14

I'd have some concerns about medical emergencies/communicating on important issues but they could be overcome.
what I wouldn't agree to at all is her speaking to my children in English all the time if her English was really bad (obviously, I don't mean if her English is in fact pretty good but just an accent/occasional errors). there is plenty of evidence to show that it's a much better idea to use your own language or one you feel confident in when bringing up/communicating with small children. it's not just that your dd might be taught the wrong word for something, but if you can imagine all the 'chatter' that goes on when you natter away to your dd, all that would be absent and the language used would be much less overall and much more functional. if it was just part time care then that might not matter as much, but if your dd would be spending a significant amount of time with her, then I would be wary. could be a great opportunity for your dd to be exposed to other languages though - exposed before a year and your accent will be better than someone without that early exposure, even if you only relearn the language as an adult

eefs Thu 22-Feb-07 10:40:31

Communication with my childminder wasn't a problem - it was a bit of hassle occasionally but I worked around it - we spoke easily through her husband and sometimes friends that were visiting. She had enough english to understand the basics and I would leave a note if I wanted to be sure that we were both clear on what I meant - she would get it translated later during the day. Maybe that sounds awkward but my gut feeling was that DS1 was happy and I trusted her to look after him well. Even now that I have a new childminder (My original childminder could not mind both DS1 and 2) when we meet her out and about my sons act as if they are meeting a long lost relative.

eefs Thu 22-Feb-07 10:41:21

oh and she spoke only Spanish to DS1 which I encouraged.

Ellbell Thu 22-Feb-07 14:22:03

It sounds as if you really like her dotcotton. I'd be prepared to give it a go and see how it works out. I know that with any new CM you can agree a trial period at the end of which either of you can cancel the arrangement (at least this was the case with mine) so if you feel that it's not working you can always pull out.

I think it's unlikely that your dd's own language skills will be impaired by being with this cm. I have known several children of Italian parents who've grown up in this country speaking only Italian at home and who have learnt flawless, unaccented English from school/nursery/cm/whatever...

It's also possible that she was nervous about meeting you and that impaired her English a bit. She may be a lot more relaxed when she's on her own with your dd and once she gets to know you.

I think that the emergency thing is a bit of a spurious problem. She has four children of her own and has presumably managed to communicate with doctors etc about them. In a REAL emergency she'd get the essentials across (child, fall, hurt, head..). The people who approved her as a cm must have felt that she could communicate effectively enough for this, at least.

I'd say give it a go. You are not committing yourself for the rest of your dd's life... but it sounds as if she's the best you've seen and it's got to be worth a try if she's lovely in every other way. Good luck.

nearlyfourbob Thu 22-Feb-07 16:39:43

With such a young child and other children in the house I think I would just tell her to talk to your dd in her own language, which your daughter will then learn alongside English. You do seem to really like her.

Kelly1978 Thu 22-Feb-07 16:52:40

I'd go for it! I'd see it as a great oppurtunity for your dd to learn gujarati and she will still pick up plenty of english from you at home and from other children when she goes to mother and toddler groups and later on preschool. I think the communication problems will be overcome, it is something that you get used to. And I would go with the suggestion that important things are written down to be sure.

I wouldn't count on finding gujarati speakers in emergancies, gujarati family of mine have to take interpreters, but I am sure that she could manage if she speaks good enough english to complete a course.

I think the only concern I might have is that my gujarati family do have different ideas about child rearing and there are noticeable cultural differences in some of the things that they do with my dts.

The other thing you might find odd is if your dd starts speaking gujarati to you. My dts are learnign gujarati from their dad's side of the family and I don't speak it! So I'm learning bits alongside them, but I don't always understand everything that they say. If you do go for it, it might be worth asking the cm to write down any gujarati words that your dd uses.

dotcotton Thu 22-Feb-07 18:49:55

Kelly thanks for your post, would you be able to summarise some of the cultural differences that you've come across? I am tbh completely ignorant about Muslim/Gujerati culture, this is a whole new world to me and one i'm really interested in.

I'm just going on what I saw when i visited her but her children seemed incredibly well-behaved and sweet, she was very gentle and polite, she told me the kids are well behaved and don't fight. That's all i know! Her and her children's manner really appealed to me, if my dd was as polite and respectful as her kids as a result i'd be really happy, but i wonder if they had been quite strict with them?

Kelly1978 Thu 22-Feb-07 19:03:26

I wouldn't worry too much about strictness, ime the children's behaviour is down to cultural differences in expectations of behaviour. Whenever we've spent time with his family, or taken the kids to places where there are lots of asians, they've always been really friendly and lovely towards them. The differences are quite complicated and its hard to say really how much of that you would even encounter with a childminder, but if you want to email me on or msn I'd be happy to chat with you further.

ScottishThistle Thu 22-Feb-07 19:09:47


A childs first years are very important language wise.

Too many children around these days with delayed language due to Au-Pairs who speak very poor english.

The only way I'd leave a child with someone who spoke another language would be so they could teach them a 2nd language.

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