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I’ve been reading through the forum with great, although still only theoretical, interest. My partner and I don’t have kids yet, but we have been talking about possibilities of raising bilingual children. I grew up bilingual in English and German, living in Germany since my third birthday where I attended school and still live. English was my minority language as my English speaking father lives in Scotland and I mostly used English when visiting that side of the family or in reading and watching movies. I am fluent in English, but German is my every day language. My partner is German, but is very good in English. So good in fact, that his vocabulary is greater than mine and of some of my Scottish relatives (according to them). He even understands the broad Fife my father talks! 🙂 We both read and watch movies nearly entirely in English. I understand the two most common methods of raising bilingual kids is OPOL or MLAH, but I don’t think this would work for us. I am not willing to commit to talking only English to future children and my partner and me changing to talking English to one another at home would also feel strange. So I thought of a combination of both and would like to hear your thought: My partner and I will talk English when we are alone with the child, at home or when out. When we are together or with other people we will talk German. We should probably not worry to much as English is the number one foreign language kids learn at school or even nursery (an English speaking nursery being an additional possibility) in Germany, but I would like my children to be able to communicate with their Scottish family without difficulties. Do you think One Language When Alone could work? Cheers for reading so far, greetings Maya
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Maya, have you had a chance to try this system? Any second thoughts about it ? Or anyone else? I would appreciate somebody’s experience with it!
We have a somewhat similar scenario, and we plan to follow the same system as you suggested, with some small variations. My hubby and I will talk in a minority language (our native language) at home or when we are alone as a family with the baby (including when both of us are there), but when we are with other people we will talk in English (we are fluent , but not native), including to the baby, so we do not need to switch back and forth between two languages. For us there is also a different community language which we can’t speak ourselves and do not plan on intentionally introducing to the child. For this reason the English exposure might not be so intense in our case, so I am thinking that I may try to include some more English myself (with books in English, etc..) . Also not sure how to keep switching between minority language and English, but I guess if this is something we do naturally ourselves, the baby will just pick it up too. At least I hope :-)(
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I am American, my husband German. We are both fluent in the other’s language. We live in a third country. That language we only speak a little bit and are not trying to actively promote for our son. We chose to speak English as a whole family when home and German when out, so a sort of ML@H, so it’s not exactly the same as what you’re saying. I have a friend who is bilingual, but her husband is not. She basically does what you’re suggesting, which is she speaks her second language to her kids when she is alone with them. It does work for them in that her sons understand their second language. One of them is too young for speaking at all. The other is old enough, but he speaks *almost* exclusively his first language, no matter what you address him in. So what I’ve seen from them is that this system you suggest does work, but not as quickly as some other systems (though of course it always depends on the child as well). My friend was so pleased to meet me, not only because I’m a wonderful person, but because she has so few opportunities for her kids to hear their second language where we live. I would say that’s the main drawback – exposure from sources other than “just” the parents.