Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Meet the second cousins!

We're currently visiting my cousin Aerin and her family. Nico is learning to play with his second cousin, Goose...

Nico: I can't play with her -- she just won't do what I tell her to do!
Goose's dad: Well, she's used to being in charge.
Nico: [incredulous] So she bosses you around too?
Goose's dad: Yep.

And they played happily after that. Goose's dad laughed about the exchange all day, and last I saw Nico, he was helping Goose try shoes on her doll...


Craig said...

So do you speak english with your children and your husband french?

Varina said...

I guess he just wanted to make sure he wasn't the only one being bossed around.

Aerin said...

A good time was had by all.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Craig!!!

Excellent question, and a long story. :D

When my husband and I first got together, we planned that we'd speak to each other in French when living in the U.S. and then in English when living in France.

At first this worked well. We lived together here in Princeton for a year-and-a-half, and spoke to each other in French the whole time, then we lived in France for seven years and spoke to each other in English at home. Since the kids were born after we moved to France, that meant that my husband got into the habit of talking to the kids in English most of the time (though he'd sometimes talk to them in French).

Moving to a German-speaking country has thrown a monkey-wrench into our plans. Out of habit, we just kept speaking English at home. The kids had the opportunity to speak French on a daily basis with playmates from the francophone community and at school, but they've gotten to the point where they now prefer English.

Now that we're back in Princeton for a few months, the plan is to try to go back to speaking French at home, but it's hard to break our habits. To make matters worse, Nico complains and throws tantrums if we talk to him in French! He's perfectly bilingual, but he doesn't want me to speak to him in French.

I'll keep you posted on how this develops!

Hey Sabayon!!!

That's probably it. :D

Hey Aerin!!!

Absolutely -- it was great to see you and your husband and kids!!! Thank you so much for having us over and for taking time off from work to hang out with us!!! :D

Craig said...

Yeah, from all the stuff I've read, and classes on language acquisition I've taken, it takes kids several years to get used to being bilingual. Often they'll probably because you've been speaking English at home, he identifies his home experience with English, including that safe at-home feeling, and identifies school and being out and about with French. Changing which language is used in what context can be confusing and upsetting for a younger child, though they almost always grow out of it after a couple years.

The fact that you chose to use solely English at home rather than both English and French is actually a really good technique to help the kids acquire nativeness in both languages. Or if two languages are spoken simultaneously in the home, it's best to have each parent speak exclusively one language, so the children can identify each language with one parent (or in your case one location or setting) which provides some structure and allows better acquisition of each language.

Oh, and since you live in Z├╝rich, do your children take German in school, or are other wise being exposed to German?

When I was on my mission, there was a young couple similar to you who had 2 children. The father was American and the mother was Salvadorean I believe. He spoke English to the kids, the mother Spanish, and they learnt German at school. As is common when learning more than one language, the children started speaking later than normal, and the older one (about 6) would get mad or sullen when spoken to in the wrong language from the wrong parent, or spoken to people he didn't know (like me) in either German or English - how much of that was just his personality I have no idea. Anyways, as you can tell, I think it's an absolutely fascinating subject.

Efrique said...

What a sweet exchange!