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Home Study for bilingual families?

(8 Posts)
prettytreacly Sat 06-Oct-12 22:53:56

My little boy is at reception (a young four year old), and I'm struggling with homework... I was advised when he was tiny to only speak to him in my maternal language - his dad speaks to him only in English. It was explained to me that it's best to avoid talking to him in English so he makes a connection with my language and after a lot of initial resistance he is finally speaking a little bit of my language too!

Now that he has home study, with my husband working late hours, will I need to bend the rule and read to him in English? What did you do, if in a similar situation? It makes me feel a bit sad, I worry he will only speak English from now on, and yet I want to help him with his lessons.

PS Will post this also in bilingual families

kerrygrey Sun 07-Oct-12 05:28:35

I have a friend who separated from her Italian partner and came back to England when their DD was 4. DD spoke both languages but Italian more easily. Her English had a strong Italian accent. Her mother, though not the native speaker, has managed to keep up the Italian with her. The DD took GCSE Italian a year early and got an A*, and has gone on to study the language at University.
What I am saying is that speaking English with your son when necessary will not mean he will forget your language if you use it at other times. My friend told her DD that Italian was their special 'secret' language, an exciting idea to a child.

LeMousquetaireAnonyme Sun 07-Oct-12 05:41:24

I found that yes you have to bind the rules it is too confusing to do the home work in a different language than what it is taught in class. Unless you can afford a tutor you will have to speak english.
They will always favour the language of play and learning, not the parents one.
But they will still understand the 2nd (or 3rd) language. Some people are very strict and will talk to their child only if they speak the right language with them. I found that too distressing for DD1, she couldn't convey her emotion and her imagination well enough in my language so when she is upset we are speaking in english. MY husband travel a lot and we are in a 3rd language country, so during the week I am both the english speaker and the french speaker at home, depending on the situation. It is not suppose to be ideal but TBH there is not much we can do around it.
good luck

noramum Sun 07-Oct-12 10:10:15

We are German but DD is mainly speaking English as she attended day nursery from the tender age of 11 months. At home it is mainly German she hears apart from the odd TV programm or when we read English books she got as presents or to practise reading.

But it was clear from the start that obviously school work has to be done in English, we read her book everyday and do whatever homework comes around as well in English. We also correct her grammar.

Sheis now in Year 1, can speak fluent German if she wants which is mainly when we have visitors or ar in Gemany and also started readin German by herself, applying the phonics she learnt in school.

Bi-lingual works even if you go away from the strict OPOL method.

WinterStepThisWay Sun 07-Oct-12 11:30:00

Bilingual family here too. I bend the rules all the time. I'm the one who speaks 'the other language'. So, in principle, I only speak my native tongue with my children. However I break this rule all the time when:

- we're doing school work. I'm still the one who helps my DC with numeracy and literacy, even phonics. To attempt to do this in my native tongue would be detrimental to their understanding.

- they're with their peer group. They don't like to be different.

- it suits me. Sometimes's it's just easier that way. I often find English much better to communicate what I'm trying to say than my own language.

So don't sweat it. You keep talking to your children in your own native language but 'put your English hat on' when you're going to help them with school work.


prettytreacly Sun 07-Oct-12 18:41:42

Thanks! It's very helpful to hear of your experiences. It took me a long time to get used to talk to my boy in my language and hear his reply in English. So, now that he's finally speaking a little bit of my own language, there will be a new direction... It's encouraging to hear how it worked out for you, cheers!

rrbrigi Mon 08-Oct-12 10:52:01


My son is bilingual too. I and my husband do not speak English with him most of the time, because English is not our first language. He is 4 and he is in reception class. He learns English in the school. However I help him to read at home in English and in our mother language as well. For example we read the English book in English, but when I ask him to retell the story for me, he asks if he can use our language and I say of course you can. Sometimes when he read the English book for me and he cannot read the English word but he knows how to say that in our language (from the picture), he will finish the sentence in our language. If we do phonics at home and I am not sure how to pronounce a sound I use computer or tell him to ask his teacher tomorrow. Then next morning I ask the teacher to tell him the sound if he forgets it. But what I realized his English is improving a lot quicker in the Reception class than in the nursery.

prettytreacly Tue 09-Oct-12 23:06:23

We've had a couple of English reading sessions together, I'm getting used to it, thanks again to all of you who took the time to answer. What would I do without mumsnet?!

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