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is it possible to go bilingual once kids are over a certain age??

(7 Posts)
leothelioness Fri 02-Oct-09 21:03:40

I am bilingual so is my dh. Our children however are not. They have lived in 3 different countries in the past 5 years where neither of the languages we speak was the national language.
We decided with ds1 that it was more important for him to learn English as a first language because at the time we were in germany and he was hearing german outside so our other language was sidelined.
With frequent moves this continued. Both ds1 who is now 5 and ds2 who is 3 speak fluent english for their age and bits and bobs of the languages of the countires we lived in.
They also have a very basic understanding of our second language but will not answer in it even if I say something they always respond in English.
Having Dh speak one of the languages is not an option as he doesnot spend any significant amount of time with the dcs and is often travelling.
Sorry for the long post I guess what I am asking is that has anyone sucessfully introduced another language to a child at this age without them actually living in that country.

frakkinpannikin Fri 02-Oct-09 22:34:07

5 and 3 is early enough. The 5 year old may find it harder. It will just take persistence and patience. They won't understand at first but eventually it'll click!

Could you find a native speaker of your other langauge to come and play with them?

What languages are you dealing with? MNers may be able to offer ideas on TV, DVDs, books etc to support your 'minority' language(s).

cory Sat 03-Oct-09 08:55:19

If you have a lot of patience, go for it. Make it fun! Teach them to sing in it, or play games! Order DVDs and tapes if you can. Try to find them friends. Don't see it as a failure if they fail to respond straightaway. Just go on having fun with it. My mother taught me English, as a foreign language, from the age of 6. She was not bilingual- but I am. And even if I hadn't gone on to develop it into what feels like a second mother tongue, it was still something that enriched my life enormously. There was a bigger world out there! grin

leothelioness Sat 03-Oct-09 14:57:05

thanks for the support my second language is Urdu I am a true bilingual as my mother's native language is English and my dads in Urdu. I would love to give my kids fluency in it simply because any language is always a plus. I don't want to force the subject with them but will find out about book and dvd's etc.

frakkinpannikin Sat 03-Oct-09 15:59:33

Are you in an area where there are other Urdu speakers so they can feel like they're integrating into a commmunity as well as learning the language?

I'm afraid I don't personally have any idea what resources there are out there in Urdu but lots of libraries now have bilingual books so you could ask your local library whether they have any ideas.

Good luck!

MrsMerryHenry Sat 03-Oct-09 16:07:47

Leo - the best way to find out, imo, is just to go for it. As long as you stick to this one rule: 'no pressure - ever' you won't harm their relationship with Urdu. Don't end up like my parents, regretting not ever having taught us their native tongue and then dying. sad

Cory - I am so encouraged by your story; I am teaching DS (3) Spanish, which is not my native tongue, but I'm good enough to teach what I'm teaching him, if that makes sense. All I want is for him to develop a love of languages like me, and then to do what he likes with that passion.

leothelioness Sat 03-Oct-09 18:19:22

thanks franki the problem is that we are not in the uk and not I donot know another single Urdu speaker where we live at the moment. We so in a place where neither english or urdu is the main spoken language. I will see if I can get some relatives to send over some books or something and start slowly and hopefully keep at it lang enough that they pick atleast the basics up. I can't switch completely to Urdu as their English would suffer too.

But on the posotive both me and my husband learnt to speak German as adults whihc means it can be done although it will never sound native but its enough to communicate with.

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