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DC being raised bilingual - should DH & I learn the second language to fluency?

(12 Posts)
GingerHanna Wed 24-May-17 13:42:28

DH and I are English, live in the Netherlands where pretty much everyone speaks English. I speak basic Dutch and DH speaks to a conversational level.

DC will go to a bilingual nursery where he/she will be spoken to in both English and Dutch. Should we make a concerted effort to improve our Dutch so they won't end up overtaking us or are we okay carrying on with our slow but steady practice as we go (which for me is very slow and for DH more steady)?

For note we're intending to stay here for quite some years and raise our family here.

Mamabear12 Thu 25-May-17 19:06:51

I would bite the bullet and just go straight into learning it hardcore. Do immersion class if you can. If you do it like this you will learn it fast and it will be useful for you if you are staying there several years and it will be a family language if your son is learning it too. How does the bilingual nursery work? My DD is in bilingual school, which is taught one week French and one week English. I am learning French as we go, but we live in London. I am considering to do immersion, and might do so this summer.

PotteringAlong Thu 25-May-17 19:10:11

I think if you're living in the Netherlands and intending to stay there then regardless of your child status you should attempt to learn the language at more than a basic level.

But yes, I would. If nothing else then, as your child grows up, they will quickly realise that if you can't speak Dutch then you cannot monitor what they are saying / doing in that language and will be able to (potentially) hide far more from you than you want them to be able to.

NataliaOsipova Thu 25-May-17 19:10:32

My friend lived in the Netherlands. His perspective was that, while the Dutch were hugely welcoming and happy to speak to you in English, there was definitely the expectation that, if you were going to be around for a while, you learned Dutch. So I would try my best.

Tinseleverywhere Thu 25-May-17 19:12:08

Yes I would go for it, more because it will make life easier for you living in the country if you speak the language.

noramum Thu 25-May-17 21:38:14

Is this even a question? You live in a different country, it is normal to learn the language.

The Dutch are quite accommodating but from what I remember do expect people living there to actually learn the language. What will happen if your children get older, you need to help them with schooling, interact with friends.

PicaPau Thu 25-May-17 23:07:27

I would say learn. I live abroad, there's a cross over point in homework where you need to understand it and help them with it. My 11 and 13 year olds don't often need help or if they do they translate the question into English first. But my 7 year old needs me to help more. As English is his first language his vocabulary is bigger in English, so he often comes across words or ideas that he doesn't know yet. If I didn't know either, it would be tricky.

corythatwas Fri 26-May-17 09:05:52

Speaking personally, and as an immigrant, I would feel very vulnerable if I did not understand the nuances of what my teacher had told my 7yo about his behaviour in class or the language my preteen spoke with his friends.

I also think it's pretty arrogant to settle in a country for several years and just assume that the natives are going to make the effort all the time "because they can". The only reason they can is because they have made the effort and are making the effort. You should be doing the same.

PicaPau Fri 26-May-17 09:41:54

To be fair though corythatwas no one understands the language preteens speak wink

corythatwas Fri 26-May-17 09:50:13

True, Pica. grin

GingerHanna Sat 27-May-17 06:31:04

Thanks for the input folks.

To be clear, I do speak Dutch and the question was about focused intensity to get fluent or carry on casual learning. So nora that's how I think was even a question.

I've met up with a bunch of my Dutch friends last night and we've agreed a plan including half hour Dutch, half hour English on our girls nights as well as some teaching exchange - Dutch for technical English.

Again to be clear, the question was not should I learn Dutch but to what focus and intensity should I give my ongoing learning. I will note to be much clearer in future posts.

corythatwas Sat 27-May-17 13:54:44

I'd say that might depend partly on how long you intend to stay. If you will still be there your ds becomes a more independent pre-teen, then I think it would undermine you as a parenting force if you can't understand the finer nuances of the language which he speaks outside the home. Even if only until he starts school, having a very good command of the language, as opposed to a good command, can make a big difference.

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