Single british mum abroad. Advice?(3 Posts)
I live abroad, where the 2nd language to most people is english.
I'm a single mum and speak only english to my daughter, because Im not fluent in the local language. She is 16 months and now goes to creche part time.
I sometimes feel unsure if there's anything special I should be doing about language and bilingualism. Can anyone share some tips, or give advice for someone in my situation. I dont want to wait till it's too late before I realise I missed on some important points.
I guess it depends what your local language is?
Most English speaking parents abroad choose to speak English to their children as they'll be the sole, consistent, correct input of English (unless you're in the Netherlands which has very good bilingual programmes in school). She will pick up the local language from creche and then school and her friends. Do you speak enough to get by/socialise with native speakers so your daughter has native speaking friends? If you're worried she won't pick up the local langauge (which she will) then could you get someone to come and play with her in the local language a few hours a week just to give her a little bit of extra 1-to-1 input?
Don't worry - your DD is not going to be disadvantaged by you not speaking the local language to her if you're living in an area where she consistently hears it outside the home. In fact she'll be in much stronger position because she'll be able to differentiate the languages more easily (mummy speaks English, other people speak whatever else) and she has good, consistent, correct input in both languages.
Sounds like you are doing everything right. My only piece of advice would be, more of everything! Get her access to English language TV (or DVDs); ditto music; make a point of reading to/with her in English, every day if you can; get her exposure to other native English speakers (even if they have different dialects to you, eg Americans, Canadians, etc) and let her witness YOU speaking to other native speakers too (so she knows English isn't just "mummy's funny game"); see if there's an English language play group you can attend together (not English classes - just an environment where children socialise in the medium of English); spend time in English-speaking countries when possible; etc; etc.
Above all, don't give up - you're giving her a great gift and, from her point of view, it's absolutely free! She can learn English from you without even noticing it and never having a single "lesson"; or she can do it over 7 years of school and 4 of university and still not be quite as good.
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