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homework with primary age children - your language or school language?

(40 Posts)
mousymouse Wed 05-Oct-11 13:29:25

ds has just started reception.
I have a disagreement with dh.
when I do the homework with ds I use the minority language, the language we speak at home. dh thinks we should make the homework in the 'school language'...

how do you do that? I think it is important to use our language so that he can advance in our language as well with all the numbers and letters...

reallytired Wed 05-Oct-11 13:36:20

My family is monoligual so I am not sure what whether I should express an opinon. I wish that my children had the opportunity to grow up with a second language.

I think a lot depends what the homework is. If the homework is literacy then I think you need to use English. However I think for other homework it doesn't matter what language you use. Which language are you and your son happiest to use?

Your ds is very little and many countries do not start school as early as the UK. Many people would argue that he should be playing at five years old.

winnybella Wed 05-Oct-11 13:42:34

DS is 9 and...wait, I've just realised that I don't help him with homework, he does it all by himself. But he does sometimes ask me to check whether he did it well so we'll talk about it and then we use 2 1/2 languages, same as usual.

DD's on her way to be trilingual, but with her I only use my mother tongue so I expect to use only this when discussing homework.

OTOH when you're talking about an essay in,say, French, it's easier to use French, I guess. Maths, I don't think it matters unless the child has learning difficulties and it's easier to stick to the exact terminology the teacher is using iyswim.

winnybella Wed 05-Oct-11 13:44:51

Oh, I guess your ds is still little if he's learning letters and numbers. Is he fluent in the majority language?

annasophia Wed 05-Oct-11 14:20:53

I generally ALWAYS speak to my children in the minority language (German) whether we're eating together, playing a game or I'm helping them with their (English) homework. We associate German together and I'd find it odd to speak to them in another language. So, while we read the English words in an English book we'll talk about the meaning in German for example. Same with French - it actually helps to explain things in German when learning French grammar or vocabulary (in English). It works very well for us smile.

mousymouse Wed 05-Oct-11 18:11:48

at the moment he is fluent in both english and our home language (german) but drifts more and more towards english.

Bonsoir Wed 05-Oct-11 18:14:57

I think you should do homework in the language of the homework, but then talk about it in your other language. DD gets homework in French and we do it in French but then I try to find an opportunity to talk about it in English or make comparisons/translations (ie I check she knows all the vocabulary in both languages.

This is supposed to be "best practice".

Tenebrist Wed 05-Oct-11 18:23:17

The only thing we find really problematic is doing maths in German, since we're both English native speakers. We have been told by the maths teacher that the class need to practice their times table verbally at home 'Was ist neun mal sieben' etc and I am fundamentally incapable of getting the numbers the right way round - I'm just as likely to say sechsunddreißig as dreiundsechszig (and I'm a translator too, though in my defence I don't specialise in anything technical or mathematical).

The old maths teacher was really unhappy when we practiced in English (although it's a bilingual school and many parents speak no German at all), but this one is a bit more pragmatic. And since DD2 is truly bilingual, she doesn't seem to mind whether we ask in English or German. Like annasophia I find it odd speaking to the kids in my non-native language.

ForYourDreamsAreChina Wed 05-Oct-11 18:25:12

What Bonsoir says.

noramum Thu 06-Oct-11 10:37:51

DD only just started reception but we are pronouncing the letter currently in English (home language is German) as she got confused in nursery with E and I already.

We obviously read her books in English :-).

But: we speak about what we did in German afterwards, more like I speak German and she speaks a English-German mix.

MIFLAW Thu 06-Oct-11 11:35:45

I would always use the minority language because that's the language I speak with my daughters, end of.

That's just my view, though - I don't know if it's "best practice". And obviously reading always needs to be in the language of the book, though I guess that I would then ask her to summarise in French.

belgo Thu 06-Oct-11 11:37:13

When I help with my dds' homework, it's in flemish, so I help them in flemish.

sommewhereelse Thu 06-Oct-11 11:42:16

So if you usually speak one language but do the homework in the other, in what language are you supposed to say things like 'stop daydreaming' '?

belgo Thu 06-Oct-11 17:35:23

I've just spent half an hour or so doing flemish homework with dd2, aged 6, reading and numbers. The reading was ok course in flemish, but I did use english to tell her to concentrate etc! The numbers she started saying in english, but I suggested to her it may be better to do it in flemish.

cory Thu 06-Oct-11 22:38:55

sommewhereelse Thu 06-Oct-11 11:42:16
"So if you usually speak one language but do the homework in the other, in what language are you supposed to say things like 'stop daydreaming' '?"

Now that to my mind is the ideal situation for a bit of code-switching to make them wake up grin

Sometimes homework is very tied up with practising right terminology which would make minority language very difficult imo.

These days my task is usually to restricted to acting as supporting cast when dd learns yet another Shakespeare part- which again puts demands on the language (I'm a very dashing Romeo, I am grin).

QuintessentialDead Thu 06-Oct-11 22:44:51

We do like Bonsoir.

For my 9 year olds spellings, I also make him translate to Norwegian next to the English words, to ensure that he understands. We discuss the meaning of difficult words, and ponder how come most English words with a -ful ending (such as mercyful, beautiful) etc dont have an eqivalent same-ish ending in Norwegian, etc.

QuintessentialDead Thu 06-Oct-11 22:45:33

I agree with Cory about terminology.

substantiallycompromised Fri 07-Oct-11 16:47:21

Same as Bonsoir

Came a cropper recently when during the holidays, thinking I was helping, I bought dd an English CD that helped her to practice singing and repeating her times tables. Then she was tested on her times tables in French at school and had difficulty because she was taking too long as she was translating it from English to French in her head before answering.

This is a good example of why one should always do the hwk in the language of the school! I've learnt my lesson now!

Bonsoir Fri 07-Oct-11 17:24:49

"Best practice" (if you have the patience...) for all rote learning of factual information that you need to store in your long-term memory (so numbers, number bonds, times tables etc) is to learn them in both languages.

This is quite hard to achieve without feeling like a slave-driver Mummy, IMVHO.

mousymouse Fri 07-Oct-11 17:25:29

thanks for your thoughts.

but do you then accept that the dc is not fully bilangual?
how to compensate?

mousymouse Fri 07-Oct-11 17:26:54

sorry, with 'fully bilingual' I mean that certain basic thinks lack in the language that is not the school language. iyswim.

belgo Fri 07-Oct-11 17:31:28

I don't really know what you mean by fully bilingual - my children are fully bi-lingual on a day to day basis, but there are many words relating to school that they only know in flemish. But then I use other opportunities to teach them words in English - the names of birds and trees when we go to the park for example.

Timestables we have been practising them in both english and flemish, dd1 doesn't seem to have a problem switching from one to another.

Bonsoir Fri 07-Oct-11 17:32:33

Children must receive education in both languages in order to be fully bilingual. That does not, of course, mean that they must attend bilingual schools but if they do not, you need, to some extent, to Home Educate in the minority language. This is really easy for French speakers as there is the CNED, not always so easy for speakers of languages where there is no national support system for HE.

QuintessentialDead Fri 07-Oct-11 17:33:11

I think with young children there is always going to be a certain overlap. You are not born plugged into a dictionary, and you dont always know the word for everything in both languages. I doubt my 6 year old know what pommesgranate is in both English and Norwegian, it is not a "fashionable" juice in Norway, and you cant easily buy it in the shops, so this may for example be a word he does not have in both languages.

Notes to self:
Must ensure children read up on fruits and veg in BOTH languages.

belgo Fri 07-Oct-11 17:36:08

I agree that you have to home educate to a certain extent; I just disagree that you need to translate homework into the minority language to do this.

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