I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk through our bilingual journey. The decisions and the changes we made on our journey.
Our decision was easy with regards to the language that we were going to choose. I am a Brit living in Austria so our majority language is German and the minority language is English.
Our decision to raise our child bilingually, was the fact that she should be able to communicate with my family and friends in the UK. Plus I did not want to be a translator the whole, time we were visiting.
I started really early and when Emily was still in the womb. I was listening to music in English, reading-aloud in the evenings when relaxing. Crazy I know but I wanted to get started early.
The Problems started
As soon as Emily was born it was full on OPOL (One Person One Language). This worked really well until we reached the point where Emily was talking. She was hearing me in my day job (riding instructor) that I was also able to speak the language that Daddy could speak – this is when some problems started to arise and we needed to make a few changes to our language learning journey.
I know that some specialists would say, ‘You need to carry on with OPOL, just keep speaking in the minority language and the child will accept it.’ All good in theory, but this was practice and Emily would start asking questions such as, ’Why do you speak English with me?’ or would just refuse to answer me at times. So we decided to make a change and it has been the best decision that we have personally made – we needed to be flexible!!!
We are a very outdoor family running a riding school and livery yard, plus having an active Labrador retriever. We therefore spend numerous hours outside per day either on nature walks or playing.
Emily changed a lot when we were outdoors and her curiosity grew and grew for learning whilst outdoors. So we changed to outdoor language learning using nature and it has been the best decision. Completely relaxed learning, picking up new words and short sentences. Of course I also speak to Emily sometimes at home in English as well when we are role playing with her Barbie dolls or our reading aloud time is all still in English but, our main language learning activities take place outdoors.
What I really want to say with this is that whatever journey that you decide to take please be flexible, and try and listen to your child and not to family and friends who will try and influence you on your journey. It is your family’s journey and every family and child is different and your journey should not be compared to others. Enjoy the journey and the results regardless of how big or small.
During the month of February I will be running a blog feature called ‘Top 5 Language Learning Tips’ This guest blog feature is where numerous established language learning teachers, bilingual families and homeschooling parents will be sharing their top 5 language learning tips with you to get you started and to keep you motivated on your language learning journey.
See you in February, stay flexible