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Unilingual partner

(25 Posts)
Mummyfor3 Sat 02-Aug-08 14:16:06

Do any of your Dh/DP feel left out when you speak in the "other" language with your DCs?
If so, any ideas how to address this? He has no interest in learning my language.

suzywong Sat 02-Aug-08 14:31:08

suck it up
that's part of being in a bilingual family.
He will grasp topics of conversation and salient words over time, whether he's interested or not. it's up to your dh how left out he lets himself become.

Do your DCs respond to you in your language? I only ask because Mr Wong speaks to the kids in Hakka Chinese and they respond to him in English. I think they unconsciously felt more comfortable using the dominant language.

Hope you find a workable solution

JonahTakalua Sat 02-Aug-08 14:35:29

If he hasn't got any interest in learning your language, then it's not really fair for him to complain about feeling left out.

My friend is married to a French woman, and he couldn't speak any French.

Ten years later, and he is fluent, almost by osmosis.

I'm sure your DP will be the same. smile

Mummyfor3 Sun 03-Aug-08 17:44:05

I posted above question for a friend (no, really) and I have passed above comments on to her.

I am in same position however not as bothered: I have known DH for 15 years, we have been married for 11 years next week (smug married smile) and have 3 boys together who understand virtually everything in German although their first language is very definetely English.
So far osmosis has not worked for DH, although I suspect he understands a whole lot more than he lets on - and he is watching what I am typing over my shoulder...
BC (before children) he did a course with the Goethe Institute but that was pretty much it. DSs 1+2 have recently discovered that if they speak in German to each other it is like a secret language as fas as Daddy is concerned grin. That might motivate him, but I am not holding my breath.
Like I said, I am not too bothered, I think my parents care more wink.

moondog Sun 03-Aug-08 17:46:10

A modicum of interest is respectful. My mother learnt Welsh by osmosis in Zambia and PNG.
She starts a degree in it in a few weeks.

WelliesAndPyjamas Sun 03-Aug-08 17:50:03

Dh doesn't speak DS' second language but after almost 5 years of listening to us talking it he understands most of it. Sometimes we end up having two language conversations between the three of us. He is extremely proud of DS' ability to speak other languages so young and will boast tell anyone who will listen!
He does however sulk if he is left out of long conversations at my family gatherings, however much I try and remind --my father-- everyone to keep it bilingual. My father has two english son-in-laws and I think the only way he can secretly rebel against this is by excluding them liguistically hmm [silly]

Mummyfor3 Sun 03-Aug-08 18:52:08

Suzy, my children respond in English in whatever language they are spoken to. It helps that my parents speak very good English so can keep DH in the loop. However sometimes it annoys me that they speak English to the boys as I feel that keeps the whole bilingual business entirely up to me. At the same time they will boast comment on grandchildrens ability to anybody within listening distance wink.
Interestingly, when they stay at my parents without us they will speak more and more German over a period of days. Like I said above, it is a fairly new development that they use it amongst each other.
DH not very motivated as able to order any number of interesting beers in German grin! All he needs to be happy on hot summer's evening...

moondog Sun 03-Aug-08 19:15:06

Mummy, why do they speak English to your children?

Suze, how good is your Chinese by now?

Pitchounette Sun 03-Aug-08 19:20:31

Message withdrawn

Mummyfor3 Sun 03-Aug-08 19:45:01

It is a bit odd and needs getting used to to persistently speak German to DSs when they speak English to each other, to daddy, to local friends etc etc and I think my parents "slip" into answering in English because it feels more natural and luckily for them their English is v good.
I am very used to it to the point where I am tempted to speak to all pre-school children in German wink.
DS1 is starting school in a couple of weeks and even though I have been doing the bilingual thing for 5 years I feel a bit selfconcious to speak German in front of all the other mummies at the school gates. Silly, I know, but cannot help it blush. I am taking comfort from friend of chinese origin who speaks Chinese (Mandarin, I think) with her daughters.

Pitchounette Sun 03-Aug-08 19:54:30

Message withdrawn

suzywong Mon 04-Aug-08 01:50:18

Mummyfor3, yes it can be irritating when grandparents speak in English, my MIL speaks pretty bad English to the kids when they understand Chinese, can't seem to stop her though.
Moondog, my Chinese is comical to say the least. I only use it when pretending to call children to car or away from playground in manner of Yangtze River duck-keeper: "Li li li li li li li li!" It makes them giggle

moondog Mon 04-Aug-08 11:48:32

My sister (married to Korean) has just gone to live there as she doesn't feel her kids' Korean is good enough. ...

moondog Mon 04-Aug-08 11:49:31

She is alsov pissed off with her dh's family who persist in speaking English to them esp. as they all had afit when he started going out with a white woman. hmm

suzywong Mon 04-Aug-08 11:57:18

oh the grandparents will be parading the dear little gcs and their lovely round eyes around the neighbourhood, mark my words. When my Fragrant Boys went back to KK recently for a holiday, MIL was very keen to show off their nice round features, particularly ds1's thick earlobes - sign of prosperity.

Korean not good enough? Does she have a career (geddit?) path mapped out for them that needs very good Korean?

We went to a fab Korean Restaurant the other week

moondog Mon 04-Aug-08 12:01:41

We did too.Loads of Korean places here in Bangladesh.
She wants them to be properly Korean, not just little Brighton lads. Actually, she putsin more effort than anyone.

moondog Mon 04-Aug-08 12:02:26

She started a Korean club in Brighton that was attracting 50/60 mixed race kids every fortnight.

Essie3 Mon 04-Aug-08 13:41:49

Sumai Moondog! Where is your Mum doing her degree? I lecture in Welsh... She's an example to us all!

My problem is not DH - who is fab, learning Welsh and keeps reminding me to speak Welsh with him as well as the baby so that he can get better - but my inlaws. Mind you, some languages are more acceptable than others (not my opinion, but some people's). To them, Welsh is pointless and useless. angry But don't get me started on the topic of my inlaws... grin

moondog Mon 04-Aug-08 14:02:51

Iesu Grist!angry

Cymrag a hanes Cymru

Pitchounette Mon 04-Aug-08 15:19:19

Message withdrawn

Mummyfor3 Mon 04-Aug-08 19:26:17

I was out for the day, just back again.
I am very lucky that my parents are able and willing to take two boisterous preschool boys for a week or two in Germany. They then speak only German to them, they play with other kids and always come back with improved language still. It doesn't last, but I am sure their amazingly flexible kids brains store it all somewhere.
It will never happen that we as a family will live in Germany and even I would problably die of culture shock now (in UK last 15+ years).
I am not sure how ageing parents will cope when DS3 is old enough for foreign holidays without mummy and daddy hmm.
Moondog and Essie: to me the point of learning another language no matter which language as a child is that it will make learning any other language easier, and that is what I point out to doubters ("it will confuse children etc"). So carry on the Welsh (which is all Chinese to me grin)!!

Essie3 Tue 05-Aug-08 17:19:13

Moondog - dyna lle dwi'n darlithio...ond dwi ar fin newid job i'r adran gyfraith!!

2point4kids Tue 05-Aug-08 17:31:00

Just read this thread in interest (although I only speak one language!) and felt I had to respond to one point.
A couple of you say you are starting to feel self conscious as other people look at you when you are speaking another language to your children. I think I am guilty of looking on when I have heard this in the past. It is purely down to amazement though and awe at such young children switching so seamlessly between languages.
I'm sure most other onlookers are thinking the same so dont feel self conscious! smile

moondog Wed 06-Aug-08 05:30:11

Essie.Ie wir?!
Byd bach!
Pob lwc efo'r wydd newydd.

Essie3 Fri 08-Aug-08 11:50:37

2point4 I agree. I always get starers, but I just ignore it (in a nice way - I smile, then if they want to ask me which language it is etc then they won't feel intimidated hopefully!).
Mind you, I'm used to it, because Welsh doesn't sound like any other language really and because it's so 'foreign', I've had people staring and commenting all my life!
I personally tend to ask people which language they're speaking (I spend a lot of time in Tooting and there are plenty of languages there), because I'm interested.
I always find it hilarious when people assume I don't speak English and then talk about me, sometimes trying to guess the language...

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