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Tips on English when it isn't spoken at home?

(18 Posts)
letsgorunning Thu 08-Sep-11 23:59:32

DC due in 2mnths

DH is a Dane and we speak Danish at home
We both speak english fluently (me my own brand being from glasgow) but never at home or to each other.

Does anyone have a tips/experince about encouraging english/having english (from the get go) when the language spoken at home isn't english??

cat64 Fri 09-Sep-11 00:07:02

Message withdrawn

letsgorunning Fri 09-Sep-11 00:17:31

Currently England, but probably (more of a definate) be moving back to Denmark in Oct 2012

cat64 Fri 09-Sep-11 00:35:04

Message withdrawn

TheBossofMe Fri 09-Sep-11 01:03:51

OPOL, ie one parent one language.

So you speak English to dc, your dh speaks Danish.

MIFLAW Fri 09-Sep-11 09:49:51

I agree with Boss - OPOL is way to go for us.

That said, cory, who is often on these threads, does something completely different and has had excellent results.

but OPOL is a good bet if you're not married to a better idea.

redexpat Fri 09-Sep-11 20:58:00

DC due in one month. I'm English living in Dk with my Danish hubby and we're planning on doing OPOL with DC. We speak english at home, but that's because DH mumbles the local dialect rather than speaking danish so it's better for our marriage. I'm pretty sure that Danish will be the dominant language after a while but I'm not too bothered by it. They'll get English at school.

I know another couple who did english inside the home and danish outside the home.

letsgorunning Sat 10-Sep-11 00:44:45

OPOL sounds okay - but then what do we speak to each other (me and DH)?
redexpat I like that one with english in and danish out but I suppose that would been in Denmark and opposite in UK.

natation Sun 11-Sep-11 10:56:03

letsgorunning, how did you learn English yourself? And your husband? If you learned it from growing up in Denmark, watching English language TV, studying English in school, moving to the UK?, then could you not just do the same? It would mean English would come later in life. We meet children on holiday often who are Dutch for example (we book with a Dutch company) and the children in Netherlands often learn English from aged 8 and also watch an awful lot of English TV subtitled in Dutch and the Dutch children we come across are just great at speaking English, are full of confidence, that's without speaking English at home, just from school and TV and the world around them. I imagine Denmark is quite similar?

The alternative is for one of you always to speak English, if your fluency is really advanced enough - I say that because I work at an English language school abroad where there are a minority of parents who speak less than perfect English to their children instead of their mother tongues (they think it is helping their children) and it shows in the level of English of these children who repeat the errors they hear from their parents and I'm sure their English would be better if they spoke at home the home language with their parents and kept their exposure of English to school environment. Anyway in your situation, the other parents speaks Danish always, you always speak Danish between parents.

letsgorunning Sun 11-Sep-11 21:34:41

I'm confused by what you are saying natation i'm scottish (so english is my first language so I like to think it is advanced enough) and learnt Danish when I was a student at about 19 (have a masters in it's linguists compared to english as well but that is by the by)
DH learnt Danish the way you are describing - being Danish (not the moving to UK we only moved -back,for me - to the UK last year) But he is fluent in english (definatly advanced enough as it is also from uni/job) and his imediate family have a 'normal' english fluency for Danes. But my family obviously don't speak any Danish. So what it would come later in life but then wouldn't be able to comunicate with my family for x nuber of years?
So we are both highly fluent in the others language
I'm confused

Greythorne Sun 11-Sep-11 21:53:58

You can try OPOL which is tried and tested.
Google "one parent, one language" and you will find loads.
Between parents using OPOL, i don't think it matters wha they speak to each other it's consistency to the child that counts.

There's also "one context, one language", so Danish at home (all three of you) and English outside the home.

What 's interesting in your situation is that your minority language is probably going to change. From birth, the minority language will be Danish, so the standard advice would be to ensure plenty of exposure to Danish through grandparents, radio, nursery rhymes, DVDs (in due course), books, stories on CD etc. Because if you live in the UK and your DC go to English speaking school ( as opposed to home schooling or bilngual schooling), your DC will almost certainly -barring SN - speak fluent English.

But you will probably move to DK, in which case English will be your minority language. Which might influence how you play it now.

I might be tempted to do OPOL but not focus all my efforts on the current minority langage but for the moment, try to get the English going as much as possible, so English radio, dvds, obviously masses of reading aloud in English, and hold Danish in abeyance other than as the language between your DH and the baby based on the assumption that ultimately, Danish will not be a problem and English will be the minority and possibly harder slog.

fraktious Mon 12-Sep-11 18:01:21

We do OPOL as our community language could be either or neither of our home languages. I speak and very much encourage English as it's currently the minority language, DH speaks French and they will certainly go to French primary schools (AEFE if we're overseas). So we're in a sort of similar situation to you and OPOL seemed most logical to us.

Plus no matter how fluent I feel odd talking to children in anything other than English because all the games and rhymes etc I know are English!

natation Tue 13-Sep-11 18:34:33

letsgo, sorry when you wrote you speak Danish at home, I assumed you were both first language Danish and had picked up Glaswegian! Well then if you are English first language, then you speak English, husband speaks Danish, between you and husband speak English. English should at first dominate then, especially if you are still living in the UK with English in the wider community. If and when you move to Denmark, Danish would probably become the more dominant or perhaps more equal language.

I was just trying to make the point that from the only anecdotal experience at the school where I work and also the experience of our youngest children at home who I speak French and English to - I'm first language English and really I should speak only English but the girls just want to speak French most of the time and I just end up doing the same, on those experiences where parents speak their 2nd language to their children as if it is a 1st language, you risk passing on both an "accent" and also grammatical errors. I know children who are for example exclusively Spanish speakers at home, they come to school and speak very fluent English without a trace of an accent that they are hispanophones, yet I also know for example Romanian speakers whose Romanian parents speak to them in not quite fluent English, they have heavy Romanian accents and they continue to repeat grammatical errors that their parents make. Well it's what I have experiences. Really unless fluency is native level in a 2nd language, you should stick to your mother tongue. There you go, I ignore my own advice.

noramum Tue 20-Sep-11 09:26:55

You could do OPOL with Danish as family language until you move to Denmark and then switch to English as your family language.

I have friends German/Irish, living in the UK, who do OPOL with German as family language but will switch to English as family language as they will move to Germany in a matter of months.

This means the weaker language can be supported.

lilham Mon 26-Sep-11 09:55:24

Natation, I don't think parents really pass on their accents to their children. My DH has English parents who still sound 100% pommie after living in nz for 30 years. My DH on the other hand sounds completely kiwi. There are plenty of kiwis with british parents in nz that are the same. Maybe they ditch their parents accents and use of language when they get to school.

fraktious Mon 26-Sep-11 17:25:37

Parents (and other carers) do pass on the accent if they're the only exposure the child has. I've heard it happen quite often that young children have picked up a foreign caregiver's accent, which can obviously be corrected by exposure to a majority community language/accent but the smaller the range of input the more impact each interlocutor has.

ForYourDreamsAreChina Mon 26-Sep-11 17:30:57

You'll prob find the OPOL will come naturally enough if you want it to, once the baby is born.
Dp and I only spoke Italian to each other before dd was born, she is now almost 8 and completely bilingual (with the added plus that his English has improved too!) You just get used to having 2 languages going round the dinner table.
It honestly works better if you don't overthink it. Sometimes I speak to dd in Italian, no-one dies, I'm not that rigid, but mostly it just happens.
Dd does have my accent, because, as other posters have said, I'm her major source of the language. (friends of mine from Northumberland who now live in Bolton though have daughters with a strong north-west accent, because of the extra-familial language input they've been exposed to)

cory Wed 28-Sep-11 13:49:59

What fractious said about the number of interlocutors. Dcs never picked up dh's (awful) Swedish accent because they compared it with mine, and with other relatives when we went on holiday, and worked out very quickly which was the way to go.

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