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Advice - Mum Czech, Dad English and can't speak Czech

(49 Posts)
Broucek Mon 15-Sep-08 20:52:44

we want to raise our son bilingually but my husband can't speak Czech. I am aware that it's best to each stick to just one language but don't want Dad to be excluded so when we're all together I am using English. Will this be too confusing for my son? He is only few months old at the moment....

annasmami Mon 15-Sep-08 21:53:50

I think it would be best for your son if you only talked to him in Czech (and English to your husband) - its easiest for children to learn several languages if there is a clear division - by person or by location etc. We are raising our children bilingually in German (me) and English (husband) and I do try to speak to them only in German. When my husband is around I still talk to the kids in German and to him in English. He now understands enough to follow what we're talking about - I am sure your husband will pick up Czech over time too! Good luck!

Bowddee Mon 15-Sep-08 22:02:01

A friend of mine is English, her husband is French. He speaks English, she speaks some French but lacks confidence.

Their daughter speaks English to mum and French AND English to dad and can chop and change between the two with no problem whatsoever.

Mum & Dad speak English to each other.

Maybe you could follow that sort of set-up?

(My mum's Czech, but can't speak a word of it!)

MmeLindt Mon 15-Sep-08 22:06:03

Strictly speaking, with OPOL (One Person One Language) you should only be speaking Czech with your DS. This is however only one method of bringing up your child bilingualy.

Another option is to do the OPOL method and have a family language. This is most commmonly the least used language, ie. if you are living in England then make Czech your family language as this will be the one that the DC hears least often.

In my family we have been doing it all wrong, according to the theory.

I am Scottish, DH German and we live in Germany. I speak English with the DCs when I remember but also a fair bit of German. We speak German as a family.

DD is 6yo and quite fluent in both languages, although she favours German. DS is 4yo and speaks more German but is starting now to answer in English sometimes.

We are moving to Geneva next week so we will be adding French to the mix.

You really have to go with the method that you feel works best for your family. I read a very good book on bilingualism, I will have a look at the name in a moment.

I have a Czech friend here in Germany, I can ask her if she brought her DD up speaking Czech, I am not sure.

pillowcase Mon 15-Sep-08 22:23:23

One parent one language BUT the parents have to communicate in one language so the children will always (?) hear one parent using the other language too, though not to them. Did that make sense?

I speak Eng to kids, DH speaks French, we live in France and speak French to each other. I always try to address the children in English but they do hear me speaking French too.

Good luck!

MmeLindt Mon 15-Sep-08 22:28:53

this book was helpful. It seems to be unavailable on Amazon uk at the moment.

stitch Mon 15-Sep-08 22:36:11

bad bad idea op.
if you dont speak in your language to your child, then they wont be able to understand it. if this is acceptable to you, then carry on as you are. but if you want your kids to at least be able to understand czech, then speak to them as much as possible in czech.
i speak from bitter experience. my younger two cannot understand mylanguage. the eldest can, because i used tospeak to him, but i didnt even realise with the younger ones that i no longer spoke it to them, and they now have trouble interacting with cousins. meanwhile, with dc1's help, dh understand s my language now

DforDiva Mon 15-Sep-08 22:44:57

stitch how old is your eldest? if you dont mind.
op, im actually in the same boat with you.
my hsuband speak only english we speak english and dd3 now only speaks english too.i used to talk to her in my language when baby and she didnt speak untill 18m, i freaked out that i was confusing her and i stopped. she only used to say a few words,and soon after i started speaking english to her she started speaking proper. i dont know if it was just coincident but at the time i thought i was worried about her speech developement.
now she is 3 and she only speaks english, she laughs when i speak in my language. i hav ds who is 1 and speak to him in the hope he and also she will pick it up.

purpleflower Mon 15-Sep-08 22:48:21

DP is Hungarian and I'm English. When DP is with DS he speaks Hungarian to him but when I'm around he speaks English most of the time. DS is coming up for 2 and doesn't speak either language yet but understands both. Although DP doesn't speak Hungarian to DS all the time DS also has a lot of Hungarian influences in his life, all of DPs family are here and they speak hungarian to him. He also has some books and a couple of DVDs.

I'm slowly picking up bits of Hungarian but don't think I'll ever be confident enough to speak it all the time.

stitch Mon 15-Sep-08 22:53:51

eldest is 11. he can understand the language. the younger two, 7 and 5, cant. we speak english to each other as a family. i usually now only speak in my language when i have really lost my temper, blush when i am chatting with my parents, the eldest can follow the conversation, btu the younger two cant. its very sad

Jic Mon 15-Sep-08 22:58:13

my dh is turkish, he speaks turkish only to dd, i speak only welsh to her, dh amd i only speak english. i can speak turkish so understand when they are communicating, but he doesn't when im speaking to dd. im quite surprised that at 2y3m she is understanding a fair amount of english as well so it seems to be working quite well. i am a little worried about how she'll cope at nursery but i guess i'll have to see. she is obviously not confused though like a lot of people tell me, it makes me feel bad that we might be "confusing" her with three languages but the fact that we live in england and im fluent in english is reassuring because she is going to end up speaking it in the end!

stitch Mon 15-Sep-08 22:59:22

nursery was the killer for us. that was when it all went horribly wrong.
if youcan survive with both your languages intact after the first couple of terms of nursery, youare doing brilliantly

Jic Mon 15-Sep-08 23:09:44

stitch what happened? why was it so bad

stitch Mon 15-Sep-08 23:15:41

because without realising it, we all slipped into english only. it was only at a friends house, chatting to her mom, that i realised i was practically stuttering in my own language, because i wasnever using it anymore.
when the younger childfren came along, eventhough we tried, because ds1 spoke english, and dh andi spoke in english to each other, and for some weird reasoning that i dont follow, the grandparnets also speak in english to the grandchildren, they just dont understand my language.

Jic Mon 15-Sep-08 23:20:54

thanks for sharing, sometimes i feel maybe it will go that way for us to because i speak so much english to my friends and my parents. i suppose as i said ill have to see how it pans out

MmeLindt Tue 16-Sep-08 00:04:39

Jic
Don't worry about confusing your DD, she will cope with 3 languages if you keep it up. We should remember that most of Western Europe is unusual as we are mainly monolingual. For over 85% of the world's population, it is normal to speak 2 or more languages.

Jic Tue 16-Sep-08 00:06:16

good point mmelindt

annasmami Tue 16-Sep-08 12:43:18

Interesting to read that some of you (mums) found yourselves increasingly speaking English to your children...

I (German) have been living in the UK for a long time (16 years to be exact smile), enjoy like living here, but would find it difficult to speak to my children in anything than my 'mother tongue' (German).

Of course there are times when I have to address them in English (say, when they have English friends over), but most of the time I find it much more 'natural' to speak to them in German. Perhaps we've associated that language with each other?

Even when they bring English reading books from school, they read the words in English and we talk about the story in German. Somehow it would just seem 'weird' if I talked to them in English. They too automatically address me in German.

Does this make sense to anyone? Does anyone else have that experience?

MmeLindt Tue 16-Sep-08 14:03:51

Annismami
I wish I did have this experience. I am so used to speaking German that I have to force myself to speak English with the DCs. At the time that I had DD I had no expat friends and rarely spoke English.

annasmami Tue 16-Sep-08 14:52:41

MmeLindt, does your dh understand English? What language does he speak to the dcs? But I understand you in that the environment language is so dominant and it becomes quite difficult to 'stick to' speaking ones mother tongue. Where in Germany do you live?

Broucek Tue 16-Sep-08 14:55:53

thanks for everyone's input. the trouble is - just like MmeLindt, I hardly use czech - I even dream and swear in English as I've lived in the UK for 10 yrs now and only use Czech when visiting family and friends in Prague so English is more natural to me. The main reason why I want my DS to speak Czech is to communicate with his Czech grandma. I learnt a bit about bilinguallism and thought that social codeswitching would work (speaking English to my DS when on our own and English when English speakers around) but most of you seem to think that I should stick to the same language all the time!? It really does seem strange speaking to my Ds in Czech when my husband is around as it feels like I'm excluding him!

more Tue 16-Sep-08 15:05:48

My husband is Scottish, I am Danish and we live in Scotland, but have also lived in Denmark for 2 and a bit years.

I have only ever spoken in Danish to my children. Before we moved to Denmark I thought I was wasting my time because my daughter refused to speak in Danish to me and only spoke a few words of Scottish.

2 weeks after we moved to Denmark she would only speak in Danish and did not speak any Scottish. Now we have moved back to Scotland and she speaks Danish to me and Scottish to everyone else (including her brother who does the same).

Even if you children don't speak back to you in your language, don't give up because they do understand you, sometimes they just need prompting.

Hard work sometimes but well worth it.

MmeLindt Tue 16-Sep-08 15:20:01

Broucek
I don't worry too much about which language I use in the house, I know that many people go by the OPOL method, we do too up to a point.

As long as you are speaking to your DS in Czech then he will learn enough to be able to communicate with his Granny. Even if he is not absolutely fluent, he will be able to build on that in later life. And being brought up bilingually is proven to make learning a third or fourth language easier.

Go with what feels comfortable for yourself, not what anyone on here or in a book tells you.

Annismum
DH speaks English fluently. I can imagine us speaking more English after we move as he will be speaking English at work. He speaks German to the DCs. We are at present near Düsseldorf but are moving to CH next week.

Broucek Tue 16-Sep-08 20:56:47

MmeLindt
I think you're right. I tried following strictly OPOL today and it just didnt feel right. Having said that I will definitely start making more effort from now on and unless my DH is actually in the room with us will use Czech.

annasmami Wed 17-Sep-08 09:45:53

Good luck with your move to Switzerland, MmeLindt!

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