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Teaching your child a second language

(11 Posts)
Tori40 Sun 23-Apr-17 05:15:39

I am a French teacher and really want my kids to speak the language. I speak French to them at home, but it is not enough. We are considering an extended holiday/move to France for a year. Does anyone have any POSITIVE stories to tell me about teaching their kids a second language? No negative ones please, I have heard enough of those : (

NewBallsPlease00 Sun 23-Apr-17 05:22:42

I have several friends who's kids are bilingual all successfully all age 5/6 before they fully mastered each language ie home and second language
It was definitely a developmental seeking delay which wasn't just them processing double vocabulary
Both parents only ever spoke to kids in own selected language and they had a family ageent in home family language
Why do you think it's not working?

Tori40 Sun 23-Apr-17 05:49:58

It isn't working because it is not my mother tongue. I end up reverting into English. I guess I just don't speak French to them enough. I feel that total immersion is the only way to do it...

kirsty75005 Sun 23-Apr-17 06:11:23

Hi. I live abroad and my children are bilinguals. English is their second language and apart from me, all other significant influences on their life (father, school, childminder) are in the second language.

I think you're probably right that the reason it isn't working is because it's not enough exposure to French. My kids had one non-native speaker parent who made the language a huge priority (toddler groups, frequent trips to the UK) and for one of them it was still touch and go whether they were going to speak English. In my experience, in families where there is one non-native parent who doesn't make a big priority of the second language the children are frequently not fully bilingual. I assume your kids understand French but don't speak it very well ?

On the other hand, the set-up "one language at home, one language at school" seems to be a lot more effective at producing bilingual kids. How old are your children ? Given that they've already had a lot of exposure to French you may well find that they start talking very quickly once they're in a French-speaking situation and can only make themselves understood in French.

Pinksun12 Sun 23-Apr-17 07:07:34

How old are your kids?

I speak a non native language (English) to my kids, different to the country language (my partner is from an English speaking country but he's at work all the same time so doesn't make a difference). I switched from the country language (my native language) two years ago after I realized the exposure they got from my partner and tv is not enough. The vast majority of my social life where the kids come along (play dates etc) is in English too. The older two 8 and 5 are totally fluent now, the 5 year old seems to be better with languages and outperforms the 8 year old at times. And they correct me if I speak my native language now. But yes, it's exposure exposure exposure, I would also find French playgroups and try to meet other French mums you can hang out with and maybe go over during French term time so they can go to school there for a week?

LapinR0se Sun 23-Apr-17 07:12:50

I am a linguist and live abroad with a bilingual child.
You should really only speak to your children in another language if you are a native speaker. Your approach is likely to do more harm than good.
When they start learning French at school you can really give them an advantage by helping with homework and explaining the grammar to them etc. But speaking French to them at home is not a good idea.

Darkblueskies Sun 23-Apr-17 07:14:10

Why would speaking french to them at home be harmful?

RebelAllianceUK Sun 23-Apr-17 07:20:45

Tori how old are DC? Can you describe their current levels in both French and English for each of reading, writing, speaking, listening?

I have a bilingual DS 9yo. Was tough at times but we're doing really well now. Happy to share any experiences relevant to your situation.

ememem84 Sun 23-Apr-17 07:33:42

My dads french. He spoke to us in french every other day at home.

My sister and I aren't bilingual exactly but we can hold our own.

On "french" days we were only allowed to watch french tv/movies. And french radio was always on in the house.

He threatened to send us to school in France (but mostly if we were super naughty!!)

Penhacked Sun 23-Apr-17 08:02:01

The year in France is a very good idea. Children are very 'efficient' with communication. If they can be understood in the stronger language, they will. They have to feel the need. A year in a normal French school would kick-start that. Buy really I think at home, the only way it becomes true bilingualism is a third of their waking time is in the other language. Does your dh speak french? Could you only speak french at home? If it doesn't come naturally though, the reason it could do more harm than good is it is hard to express the same emotions to your child outside of your mother tongue (although my dh manages it in English so I may be talking twaddle!!)

Droogan Tue 07-Nov-17 21:08:17

We're having lots of fun doing this. DD is 12. I decided I'd like her to become proficient in French and German. My German is very dodgy (including very weak grammar) so I can't speak to her much without teaching her mistakes, and they don't do German at school. We have spent a few months doing CDs in the car together (Pimsleur and Linguaphone), and doing Duolingo on the computer. Plus reading a few baby books and speaking a little, watching dvds. She did a German language exchange over the summer. And she is now doing a 2 month exchange in Germany, going to school. Although she'd only been learning very informally for a few months, the German family told me, when she arrived, that she understood an astonishing amount of German. So I think this method can be recommended. We're now Whatsapping each other in German - lots of mistakes, but she's getting there and is very keen. She's loving the whole experience, including having the German child to live with us.
Next year we are doing the same with French, which luckily I am better at. Then we will try to keep it going with exchanges to France and Germany.
A great part of this is living in the country itself, learning to live with a new family, new experiences, etc.

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