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Why is it so difficult for me to speak to him in English???

(14 Posts)
Marialuca Wed 04-Jan-06 23:49:34

Hello Everyone!

I was born and lived in England for 19 years. My family are italian and I came to live in Sicily 12 years ago.

I have a little boy who will be 2 in a few days.

What's my problem??? well .... even though I speak to Luca in English... I mainly speak to him in Italian. My husband is Italian and doesn't speak a word of English. I know I should speak to Luca in English all the time....but I feel a bit strange in doing so. It's not as if my English is bad .... it's just that I don't feel right when I speak to him. WHY NOT????????!!!!! I could give my child a chance of a life time. Give him something not everyone can have.....yet I feel stupid when I speak to him in English....especially infront of other people.

Anyone able to help me out???? anyone in the same sort of situation????



SqueakyCat Wed 04-Jan-06 23:52:35

When you were very young, did your parents speak to you in Italian or English? I understand that we talk naturally to our children in our native language, however fluent we may be in other languages, because it is - for us - the language of childhood, in which we know rhymes, baby-talk etc.

ggglimpopo Wed 04-Jan-06 23:55:21

Message withdrawn

marthamoo Wed 04-Jan-06 23:57:39

I don't have experience of this exact situation but I know when ds1 was a baby I found it quite hard to talk to him at all - I felt silly talking to this little being who didn't respond. But - like many things - the more you do it, the easier it gets. So that would be my advice - even if you feel stupid and it feels false/awkward - keep doing it. And I bet the more you do it, the more natural it will feel. It's such a gift to give your child - to ensure they are bilingual. He's very lucky

Marialuca Thu 05-Jan-06 00:33:04

Thank you for your quick reponses!!!! Squeakycat when I was young my parents both spoke to me in Italian. I used to answer back in English. The thing is Engish is my native language. I have always considered Italian a second language.

Marthamoo I know your right I should start to speak to him in English even if I do feel stupid.

do you all want to know another stupid thing????? I actually teach english to children in a nursery and give private english lessons at home!!!!!!!

mixed Thu 05-Jan-06 09:31:12

DH has also great difficulties in speaking in his OWN language to his children. I have so often begged him to do so. He does prefer to speak in his own language to friends and family, even when I'm sitting there as well and he knows I don't understand it.
I speak English to ds and dd although it's my 3rd language but I suppose it isn't so difficult for me as we actualy do live in the UK.

MaryP0p1 Thu 12-Jan-06 08:25:26

I live in Italy too and am english. I am still learning Italian as are my children, we only arrived here 8 months ago. I find I feel very rude talking English outside of the house and am aware people look when they hear us speaking English. I do tend to talk in Italian, broken and bad at that, but feel far more comfortable outside of my house speaking Italian. I think my children feel the same way. My husband is trying to make the Italians speak English and failing miserably, so is coming around to our way!.

Perhaps make a concious effort to speak in English in your home and leave it at that.

I read somewhere that children pre 12 learn a second language differently to those post 12. They will be far more fluent and will take the words as NOT translations of their first language. This makes the undertsanding and the development of language much smoother and faster and the comprehension of language overall better.

I also read those chidren who are bilingual brain development is different. Bilingual children's brains, the piece related to mathematical concepts and spacial awareness are far more developed.

I see this is my 7 year old dd. Pre arriving here her maths was dreadful and she grasps things so much quicker that she did before.

If you are doing it in your home then you have no reason to be embarrassed, perhaps start with games or asking for your son to do simple things like, get me the salt, or do you want pasta.

Good luck

Rianna Tue 24-Jan-06 17:08:40

My message has goes again:
I understand your situation : if everyone arund ypu speaks Italain, it can feel starnge to talk to your son in a different language.
Also, you know mothers speak in a differnet way with their children and you have heard this in Italalian, not English.
Don't feel guilty if you can't bring him up as a bilingual : lots of monolinguals turn out fine and are even good in languages!
A strategy that you could try : speak English for him an hour eveyday , same hour everyday. Then it will become a habit and he won't protest.
For example before bedtime : play and read in English.
Try to contact English speaking mums and children.
Get English tv.
He might not turn out perfectly bilingual and might even only answer in Italain, but he will still have a huge advantage compared to other Italian children when it comes to speaking English later on!

moondog Tue 24-Jan-06 17:12:36

Stop theorising and just do it.It is bonkers not to speak your native tongue whatever it is) to your children.By doing so you are cutting out a huge chunk of their identity.
(I speak as someone from a famil where the children speak English,Welsh,Korean and French.)

If you don't you will regret it bitterly.

lorenzosasha Sat 04-Feb-06 21:13:14

Hi Maria, my name is Fabrizia and I live in north Italy, but my husband is sicilian. I'm italian, but I really want to teach my baby (6 months old) english, because he's got two english brothers (my husband was married to a new zealander) and part of his family in england.
It's rellay difficult for me to speak in english with him because it's not my mother language and I don't feel enough confident, even if I teach english in primary school.
I don't know exactly when to start and what can I do. Can someone give me some tips?
thank you

eli70 Fri 17-Feb-06 21:21:49

Hi there,

I am Italian married to an English man, and we live in Italy. I have lived in the UK for a while, but now that we are back in Italy we try to speak to my 21-month-old daughter in English all the time. It is not all that easy for me because Italian is my mother tongue and because my husband is now fluent in Italian, but I do so for my daughter's sake, so that she'll be able to speak and understand both languages and relate the same way to her two different backgrounds. I do feel odd at times especially when Italians, when hearing me speak English to my daughter, try and speak English to me thinking that I am a foreigner!!
It's an effort but I'm sure it'll pay off!


Rosa1 Tue 21-Feb-06 21:45:02

I live in Spain and my husband is argentinian. We speak spanish together but I always..or nearly always speak english to our son who is 1. My husband speaks to him in spanish. So we both feel we are communicating naturally with our son and hopefully he will learn both languages. Many of our friends who are couples are in the same situation and their children seem fine speaking 2 or even 3 languages at home. I think they took a little longer to start talking but now they definitely have a headstart!

shimmy21 Tue 21-Feb-06 21:56:42

I know exactly what you mean about being uncomfortable speaking 1 language when surrounded by another. My dh has never been able to naturally speak his own language to our children even though he doesn't speak English perfectly (we live in the UK). It seems absolutely tragic and ridiculous to me that our dss have lost the chance to be bilingual but he just found that when he was in an English environment and I was speaking english,he couldn't revert to his own language to speak to dss. Strangely when we are in his country I find myself speaking to the boys in his home language. I know dh couldn't do it but I believe that I would have done it if it had been me in that situation because I think it's so important. Don't give up please!!!

sarahinphuket Sun 21-May-06 17:20:07

I'm English and my DD's father is Thai. He speaks to her in Thai and I speak to her in English. She will be 3 next month and she is completely bilingual......

I want to start her with another language as soon as possible - probably Mandarin or Japanese.

Anyway, even though you feel self conscious, just try will be a wonderful gift for your child.

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