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Bilingual Children

hezekiah

Registered Member
If you and your partner have different mother tongue languages it would be very beneficial for the child to become bilingual. However becoming naturally bilingual is not always the case.
We live in Japan and I am British and speak English and Japanese, Wife is Japanese and prefers not to use English, she is a housewife. Child is speaking 90% Japanese.

What are some good way to balance things out?
 

fractal

Eye see what you did ther
I believe it's an impediment in the early learning process of the child. When the child is raised from infancy to kindergarten, I think that he must be spoken to in only one language, preferably the language he'll be instructed in at school. Once he grasps the language he is required to know, you can introduce other languages.

I'm glad your child speaks 90% Japanese because as far as I know that's the primary language of instruction in Japan. Knowledge of English is respected as well, so I would encourage you to teach him English as well.
 
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Ilus_Unistus

Registered Member
I knew only Eesti until I was maybe 6-7 when I was in I think first or second grade. I started to learn some Russian then because of some friends I knew who were Russian. Since, I have also learned some German just from meeting people etc, then in grade 10 I started to learn formal English in school.

I speak maybe 70% of the time Eesti, 25% English and 5% Russian/German (when needed) when I speak in everyday life now. English is becoming more comfortable to me, but still I struggle at times to find words to say what I mean when I speak.

Maybe to improve your children's/wifes use of English you could set days from a calendar that you will all only speak in English these days at the home?
 

hezekiah

Registered Member
Thanks IIus. Maybe I should try making it English time on the weekends when I am home. Hopefully my daughter won't be confused.
 

fractal

Eye see what you did ther
How old is your daughter? If she isn't fluent in Japanese yet, you might as well as wait till she masters one language completely.
 

ysabel

/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
If you and your partner have different mother tongue languages it would be very beneficial for the child to become bilingual. However becoming naturally bilingual is not always the case.
We live in Japan and I am British and speak English and Japanese, Wife is Japanese and prefers not to use English, she is a housewife. Child is speaking 90% Japanese.

What are some good way to balance things out?
My three children are bilingual. Language learning comes more natural to children than with adults. In fact when your household is bilingual, they don't realise they're learning 2x as much as it's just natural for them to find out that certain terms could be called differently and then later on they figure out the groupings and say "oh these words are English and these words are Japanese".

I suggest you start exposing your child to English by trying to talk to to him in English when you can. The child will naturally learn Japanese whether you teach it or not because you're in Japan, he's school is instructed in Japanese and everyone around him including the mom speaks Japanese to him. You can take more effort in the English part by short conversations or buying him books or movies in English. It's how my children learned. I speak to them in French but I also tell them stuff in English. You'd be surprised how much they learn from books or movies. Also you can visit friends who speak English for interaction purposes.

My son used to speak English with me but since he's in school he started getting lazy because he knew I could understand French anyway. So he kept on talking French to me but I still expose him to English movies or songs. We don't have the convo though anymore. BUT, one time I traveled with him where no one knows how to speak French and he knew that. I was surprised at how he could carry the conversation with them in English - as he's not done it with me. Apparently he picks up stuff when I speak or what he hears from the movies/songs I let him listen to, even if he doesn't practice it conversationally at home.

Now he's 8 and has foreign language class in school (there wasn't much choice but English) and he's like "Ma, this class is too easy, I already know it". :lol:
 

EllyDicious

made of AMBIGUITY
V.I.P.
I think it's very unfair that your wife doesn't want your kid to speak English.
I don't think this should be tolerated.
Moreover, your kid is really lucky to have parents who speak different languages. Once your kid grows up, she'll speak both languages perfectly.

I don't want to judge your wife but she's being very narrow-minded, preventing her daughter from using English at home.
 

fractal

Eye see what you did ther
I don't want to judge your wife but she's being very narrow-minded, preventing her daughter from using English at home.
That may not be the case at all Elly, she might simply be endorsing my point of view. Any Japanese knows that knowledge of English will boost your opportunities greatly, but first the child must learn Japanese since it's the most important language in Japan.
 

Babe_Ruth

Sultan of Swat
Staff member
V.I.P.
I'm French, but started to learn English at school at an early age. I'm really happy that I'm bilingual since it's easier to get a good paying job for the Government if you are. They much rather hire someone that can speak English and French, then just hire one or the other. If I ever have kids, I'll make sure that they're bilingual as well, since I know how important it will be for them.
 

ysabel

/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
I think it's very unfair that your wife doesn't want your kid to speak English.
I don't think this should be tolerated.
Moreover, your kid is really lucky to have parents who speak different languages. Once your kid grows up, she'll speak both languages perfectly.

I don't want to judge your wife but she's being very narrow-minded, preventing her daughter from using English at home.
I didn't get that impression from his post. But only he can confirm with us later. :lol: I just thought he said that his Japanese wife prefers to speak Japanese and not English and that's perfectly normal.

In fact in some bilingual learning theories, they do encourage the parents to speak their mother tongue to the children instead of the foreign language (meaning, in this case, leave the English to the Brit parent and the Japanese to the Japanese parent). I just didn't suscribe to this learning because the father of my kids also enjoy practicing his English so he would try to talk to them in English sometimes (rare but it happens) instead of just using French (his native language). The danger I see from there is that if the parent is not that good in the foreign language, they could do more harm by teaching the kids that language incorrectly. And like I said, kids are like sponges and could learn to assimilate things early in their childhood without an effort - you don't want to ingrain in them the wrong bases of a language.
 
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