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Forums / Multicultural experiences / Advice on raising bilingual children

Topic: Advice on raising bilingual children

  1. Quercus
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    31 January 2018

    Hello everyone,

    Our household is bilingual. Hubby has only ever spoken Polish at home to our kids. They (Miss 3 and Mr 4) speak and understand both languages (Polish and English).

    But my dilemmas...

    1. They start Polish school soon and I have to take them. And my Polish is almost non existent so I'm starting to feel very anxious about it.

    2. Mr 4 has worked out he can manipulate me because he knows I don't always understand. I'm feeling pretty stupid to be honest. Languages are not a talent of mine and believe me I have been trying.

    Has anyone else managed raising kids with multiple languages? How did you cope? What helps? Any advice would be welcome.

    Nat

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  2. Peppermintbach
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    31 January 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hey Quercus,

    Um, I’m not a parent so I’m not sure if I’m really your target respondent. Sorry...

    But I am bilingual and grew up in a bilingual household. Although I’m not going to say which (other) language due to my paranoia that anyone in my offline world might read these posts (you never know). My parents are trilingual and I’m bilingual. I’m first generation Australian :)

    Has anyone else managed raising kids with multiple languages? How did you cope? What helps?

    In terms of your bilingual children, it’s a tricky one. I suppose in your case, the real issue is perhaps one of respect rather than language. Yes, your son uses language as a tool to push boundaries with you but that’s just the tool, I feel the actual issue is he needs to learn to respect you more.

    Granted, he’s just 4 so maybe in his mind, it’s all fun and games like “yay, I can trick mummy when I speak Polish.” So he probably lacks any real awareness of how much it upsets or hurts you when he uses language to test boundaries. In his eyes, it’s probably just a child wanting to get “my way.”

    In terms of how to best respond to this, I’m not sure...it sounds extremely difficult. There’s a part of me that wants to suggest that your husband and you have a chat with your 4 year old about his behaviour and respecting you. I would also suggest that you and your husband present a very united front if you pursue this option; children are smart and can pick up on how serious parents are about something.

    On another note, while I completely respect that some families want their children to only speak a parent’s native language within the family home. But due to your language barrier, I wonder how you feel about only speaking Polish at home? For example, would you prefer both languages (English and Polish) to be spoken in the family home rather than only Polish?

    Sorry, I hope that doesn’t upset or offend you. I’m not saying it out of disrespect but I’m just wondering if your language needs as a parent is given equal consideration too.

    For example, I grew up speaking 2 languages as a child (in the family home) so it definitely can work. Having said that though, I also understand that some parents want to only speak in their native language with their children in the family home, and I respect that too.

    Caring thoughts,

    Pepper xoxo

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  3. Peppermintbach
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    31 January 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hi Nat,

    Sorry, I just realised that I may have misinterpreted your post. I sort of assumed your kids only speak Polish at home (because your husband only speaks to them in Polish)?

    If that’s not the case, please ignore the second half of my original reply.

    Sorry about that. It’s a sign that I need more sleep.

    Caring thoughts,

    Pepper xo

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  4. Peppermintbach
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    31 January 2018 in reply to Quercus

    *Oops, sorry, I meant that I’m second generation Australia (parents born overseas but I was born in Australia). Not first gen. Oops.

    Alright, I’ll stop bugging you with posts on this thread for now.

    caring thoughts,

    Pepper xo

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  5. Ggrand
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    31 January 2018 in reply to Peppermintbach

    Hello Nat,

    My hubby was brought up in a bilingual environment, His dad spoke to home in English, his mother couldn't speak English, they were both European. When I visited the in laws only the European language was spoken, (disrespect to me). I tried to learn but couldn't, I did learn a few words but not enough to understand a conversation.

    I think taking your children to Polish school will be okay as English will be spoken by both teachers and parents communication shouldn't be a problem.

    I agree with Pepper as I think your children are to young to understand with what speaking in another language makes you feel like. Maybe you and your hubby can sit down with your son and explain that to speak both languages properly he needs to practice daily both languages, you husband teaches the Polish language and you teach him the English language, just a thought only. Would it be possible for your husband to give you some lessons to learn to speak Polish a few hours per week?

    Im not sure if I was any help to you at all, just my thoughts,

    Kindness only,

    Karen

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  6. Donte'
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    31 January 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hi Quercus,

    How timely, now that schools open! Many parents would have the same dilemma. I come from the other side of the pendulum: I'm multilingual parent but haven't taught any other language to my child apart from English so I don't have this experience. However, as we know communication is only 15% based on words and the rest is body language, intonation, eye contact etc. So I'm sure you'll be able to understand if your children are 'playing up'.

    I remember when we arrived in Melbourne my parents were adamant about us speaking only English as they wanted us to learn and integrate easily and also it was their only chance to learn as well. But often, my brother and I would revert back to Greek, until one of our parents would hear us and tell us off!

    As a non-Polish speaker you can ask your children to always talk to you in English. They can speak Polish with their dad, for example.

    My experience as a LOTE teacher for more than a decade has taught me that children are extremely resilient and adapt easily, as long as they know the rules, the boundaries. If they play up they must face the consequences. I raised mine with the belief that there is not a 'right' or 'wrong', it's all a perspective. But there are always consequences, no matter what your belief is.

    How's your partner supporting you in this dilemma? Or the extended family?

    I think it's important for children to learn that if there is a person present that doesn't understand the language they're speaking, then everyone must speak a language known to all. It's respect. Maybe you could be that person in their lives who teaches them this. :)

    Hope this helps. Ultimately, you'll find what works for you. It's all trial and error really.

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  7. Donte'
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    31 January 2018 in reply to Peppermintbach

    Hello Pepper, (and wave to Querqus),

    I think the issue of respect is important to raise. Also, the communication between the two partners and the way the children are raised. In every household rules and boundaries should be taught by all parties and children must learn that 'no' means 'no' and 'yes' means 'yes' by all. If mum says 'no', for instance, we don't go to dad to ask again to see if he might say 'yes'....This is valid in any family. But of course if the language barrier is there then it is an additional hurdle to overcome, yet, the principle remains.

    Both parents should have equal amount of respect (in an ideal situation) and expect the same outcomes.Is there a way where the two parents can communicate about this better? On the other hand of course, a 4 yo will be testing the waters, that's their job as they figure out what's acceptable and what's not.

    It is all about communication but not necessarily about language, it seems.

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  8. CMF
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    31 January 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hi Nat and everyone,

    i grew up on n a bilingual household. I spoke it mainly with my grandparents as my parents were quite fluent in English. I spoke in our dialect. I was sent to language school to improve and I hated it. Hated it so much I stopped speaking it all together, now I hardly speak it but I do understand. I never taught my kids. I think if your son is using it to manipulate you then don't respond til he speKs in English so you can understand. Let him know he can speak to daddy in polish but to you in English.

    Why are you nervous about taking them Nat? Are you worried you will need to speak to teachers in polish? Do you want the kids to go or are you worried about it?when your hubby and kids do speak polish do you understand or are you feeling excluded?

    i don't speak our second language but I do understand it. 'His' mum used to say things to him about me (nothing too bad) thinking I didn't understand. Shame on her, that's just rude.

    cmf x

    .

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  9. Quercus
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    1 February 2018 in reply to CMF

    Wow hello Pepper and GGrand and Donte' and CMF (and anyone else reading who feels like joining in),

    Thank you all.

    Pepper you are never bugging anyone, your replies helped a lot.

    I do feel you all have a good point about respect. I don't think hubby and I have the right balance in place somehow.

    When the kids were born we both made the concious decision that at home he speaks Polish and I speak English. And that with his family Polish would be spoken only so that they absorbed both languages from the start (it is easiest at a very young age).

    The result was amazing. Their speech was delayed (apparently normal, two languages to sort mentally). But they speak Polish without an Aussie accent and English sounding very "ocker". They rarely mistake which language is appropriate to use at any time either.

    So to me... It is purposeful and yes disrespectful of me. However it is also what they know as normal. It was my choice to encourage the languages. Some friends and family criticise me for it but to me it was a waste not to give them every opportunity. Like going through the drama of registering our marriage so they could get polish birth certificates too. It is my way of giving them the freedom to choose when they are older.

    But the downside. On a daily basis I am excluded from conversation. My kids know I try and can understand some basics. But sometimes I think they see me as stupid. Because I ask my kids to translate. Or have just given up asking and figure if my input is required they will ask in English. It's a bit crap and yes I do feel down about it a lot.

    But it was my choice. My gift if you will. My plan was to learn too and I am (just at a snail pace). So for now I feel like an idiot. Even my 3 year old can grasp concepts beyond me.

    And the school to answer you CMF... They say non speakers are welcome but we've been to a few events and I always feel beneath others because my husband has to speak for me and I can only follow every 7th word or so. I feel torn. I want my kids to have both cultures. But I also want to be part of their experience.

    The parents are supposed to help in the class (or non speakers can pay extra to not have to help). It upset me a bit that I am not welcome even though I want to help.

    What upsets me is my capability (lack of really). My lack of progress is not from lack of trying. And listening and asking and repeating. I just can't physically make the vocal sounds. And to me it isn't enough to just say it in my head.

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  10. Peppermintbach
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    1 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hi Quercus and all,

    It’s great to hear from you again :) Thanks for the reassuring words, and for clarifying some things so we have a better understanding of how your family communicates with each other.

    What a beautiful and thoughtful gift you have given to your children. I think it’s wonderful how they can speak both English and Polish fluently. You’re clearly a very caring and loving parent.

    Um, based on your latest post,I think you have basically identified your main struggles as I noticed your comments:

    I do feel you all have a good point about respect. I don't think hubby and I have the right balance in place somehow.

    On a daily basis I am excluded from conversation. My kids know I try and can understand some basics. But sometimes I think they see me as stupid. Because I ask my kids to translate.

    What upsets me is my capability (lack of really). My lack of progress is not from lack of trying. And listening and asking and repeating. I just can't physically make the vocal sounds.

    So I feel your first point reflects Donte’s thoughts on the need for a balance of authority between parents where your children to see you as an “equal” to your husband. Sorry, I say that with the best intentions. I hope that doesn’t upset or offend.

    I think your second key point is about not feeling included and perhaps a bit of a self esteem issue too (I may be way off of course). But maybe it also goes back to the whole respect thing and wanting to be seen as a linguistically capable and equal parental figure to your husband in your children’s eyes. Just my thoughts...

    Your third point seems to be one of frustration with yourself and self “blame.” But perhaps you’re being a little hard on yourself. Learning another language is generally not easy for most people especially if you’re learning as an adult.

    Having said that though, it’s not impossible to pick up another language of course. I wonder if maybe part of your struggle is the technique you’re using to learn Polish. Perhaps there is another method available that would suit you more? I’m wondering how you’re learning e.g. by yourself, one-on-one with a tutor, in a classroom, etc because sometimes the method of learning can make a huge difference.

    Hopefully my thoughts help a little. If not, that’s okay too.

    Kind thoughts,

    Pepper xo

    P.S. Donte’, thanks for the thoughtful post to me. I will reply to you tomorrow :)

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  11. Hayfa
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    1 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hello Donte' and everyone else

    This is a really interesting topic, I have had a different experience from you Donte'. When my siblings and I were growing up, my father was very strict on us speaking Lebanese at home and English outside of the home because he wanted us not to lose the language, and this was a good call, sadly I didn't enforce that to my children because I always speak in English at home to them despite both myself and their father speaking fluent, heavy Lebanese.
    It really does depend on what you do at home to condition them.

    Absolutely agree that there should be respect, a language that everyone understands should be spoken, it is easier to try to make this happen in your own home with your kids but I think it is a bit of a different story when you are somewhere else such as with the in-laws who speak their language in your presence. Whilst it would be nice to have them speak English in your presence, I don't necessarily think it should be counted as disrespectful and rude if they don't. I have two siblings whose partners are not Lebanese speaking and it was clearly explained with respect that there may be times where they cannot always articulate in English and need to speak in their mother tongues. I know this can be viewed as disrespectful but so is talking in English in front of the in-laws and others who may have less strong English and limited understanding of what you are saying.
    We need to strike a respectful and fair balance that includes everyone and that sometimes may mean learning something new rather than make others adapt to what we want them to do. For example, the generation of our multicultural parents and in-laws were already pressured upon arrival to Australia to learn the language and ways, they did it to live here and I guess it seems only fair to learn their language and ways if one wants to live in it too.

    Hayfa

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  12. Donte'
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    1 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hello again Quercus,

    Reading your post has made me think of the arrogance and exclusivity some ethnic groups display. I see it all the time within many communities. On one hand everyone enjoys living in Australia, where they can exercise their freedoms, speak the language they wish, believe whatever they want, teach their children their traditions, customs, and beliefs and worship their gods etc, and demand that english speakers accept them as equal.

    I'm all for cultural diversity, however, usually it seems that it doesn't work the other way around. For example, if you are an English speaker you have to learn the other language and make all the changes to be accepted in the other culture, (if that's ever possible).

    It's interesting that the foreigners, migrants, refugees that go to live in Greece, for example, learn the Greek language and communicate fluently within a few months upon arrival (cause they have no other choice), but in Australia there are Greek migrants living here for 60+ years and still don't speak a word of English. It happens in all the languages and ethnic minority groups and I find it fascinating. To me it's like I want the cake and eat it too.

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  13. Quercus
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    2 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hello Pepper and Hayfa and Donte',

    Thank you all. Such interesting points.

    Pepper yes I agree I need a better system to learn. Hubby did say I should do a class at tafe but it has never eventuated because of his roster and me looking after our kids. I think maybe an online course will help.

    And Hayfa and Donte', I like your differing views about how families adapt (or don't) when they migrate to Australia. I think I sit somewhere in the middle. I feel both languages and cultures are important otherwise you are excluded from a community. Feeling included and like I belong is important to me.

    I think the part I struggle with the most in terms of disrespect is that before kids it was different. At his parent's house they spoke Polish (as Hayfa said his parents found it easier to express themselves) but would include me or occasionally translate or hubby would throw in an English word here or there so I could get the gist of what was happening. Now none of that happens.

    The worst feeling is when my kids do something I need to tell them off for. Or I need to ask them to do. And then I get told that that's what everyone was just telling the kids in Polish. So I feel somewhat belittled in front of my kids. I've started asking my husband to translate so that I don't repeat others but it makes me feel uncomfortable.

    I think the only solution is to learn to understand even if I can't speak. I do feel better within myself when I understand.

    And then the only other solution I can see is to keep on leading by example. When hubby and the kids speak Polish in front of others (usually my family or our friends) I translate. Or ask hubby to. I remind him and our kids that it helps people feel included. Maybe if I keep doing that long enough hubby will get the point.

    Thank goodness hubby has Sat off so he is coming to the school orientation. He can talk and I'll just go hunt down the cafe. Can't possibly be required to talk if I'm busy eating pierogi (mmmmmmm).

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  14. Donte'
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    2 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hahaa Quercus!

    You enjoy your coffee and pierogi and maybe this will give you an opportunity to have a chat about your feelings with your husband and perhaps your kids also. It will be good for them to know how you feel about this and be part of the solution as a family so you won’t have to strugggle alone.

    Hope it all goes well on Saturday and beyond. Sometimes struggles can turn into opportunities for engagement and positive communication.

    Good luck :)

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  15. Peppermintbach
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    2 February 2018 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Nat and all,

    Nat: I like the sound of you exploring different ways to learn Polish like online classes. Perhaps that will make learning the language a lot easier.

    All the best for Saturday too. I hope you enjoy your pierogi :)

    Donte’: thanks for your earlier post to me :)

    I agree with your point that often communication is the underlying issue; multiple languages in a family is enriching but it can also be challenging at times too. I suppose it comes down to figuring out what is the best way to optimise communication at any given point in time, and I suppose that would be different for each family and/or situation.

    As I said earlier, I grew up speaking 2 languages at home. I suppose it wasn’t a huge issue for my parents (because they actually both speak 3 languages) so they both understood either language that I spoke at home. It was actually me who didn’t really understand our 3rd language but that was my own fault as I never bothered learning it, and it was spoken a lot less than the other 2 languages. I can understand bits and pieces of it though.

    Caring thoughts to all,

    Pepper

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  16. Hayfa
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    2 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hello Quercus,

    I really love how you are so understanding and tolerant of the situation, reflecting on much of what you have said I can see that you are very fair and you walk in other people's shoes as well.
    I just want to let you know that there is no way that your husband's family could not see this beautiful nature of yours, I am sure they do and they appreciate it and I think your husband does too.
    Keep doing what you are doing because it is characteristics like yours that will draw your family to you and include you in everything, you don't have to speak fluent Polish to be a part of it all and just being there, understanding what you can and doing what your comfortable with is sometimes enough to keep those vibrant and warm connections.

    Enjoy your day tomorrow

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  17. Quercus
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    2 February 2018 in reply to Hayfa

    Hello everyone,

    Aww Hayfa now I'm blushing. Thank you.

    We had a good chat today and I told hubby how I am nervous about tomorrow and why. He does understand and says it is more about wanting to maintain an environment where the kids can be immersed in the language and learn than about being unwelcoming. He told me that from his experience of school is that the nature of living in Australia is that our kids will not want to speak Polish because it makes them different and requires effort. So to many they want to make the kids see that speaking Polish may not be typical at their usual school but for some of the community it IS typical and normal.

    I don't know if I explained that well but it made sense to me. It probably helps that I'm having a good day today where I've understood more than usual. Maybe I'm learning too 😁.

    Hi Pepper, 3 languages must have been hard work! But think of the connections within your brain! They say if you learn multiple languages as a child learning another is easier. A lady at my old work had 8 languages, she was amazing! I loved watching her switch from English then to French then Mandarin then Indonesian. It wasn't hard for her in the slightest. Because she started life with 4 languages and then added to the collection.

    ❤ Nat

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  18. Donte'
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    3 February 2018 in reply to Peppermintbach

    Hi Peppermintbach,

    Thank you for your valuable input in this very important topic of language, communication, family, tradition and change and navigating cross-cultural relationships. Each case is different. My experience as a person who is multilingual (3 languages too), and having raised my daughter to be monolingual (English only), is that there weren't any conflict among us while growing up. We spoke English to her and between ourselves (her mum and I), and here and there we would slip into Greek without realizing it. My daughter always would ask, during these times, what are we saying and what do these words mean and we were reminded and instantly switch back to English and also translate so she felt included.

    As it takes enormous effort for one to teach and pass on another language to their children, it also takes enormous effort for one to teach and maintain English in the home if parents are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. No right or wrong. Just individual choices. I believe there are always benefits and disadvantages no matter what people choose to do. So, one has to weigh the plus and minus and decide what's best fro their situation. this principal is applicable to most things in life. :)

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  19. Donte'
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    3 February 2018 in reply to CMF

    Hi CMF,

    Thank you for your contribution to this thread. I enjoy all the different perspectives in here. Very valuable discussion and relevant to so many, considering 46% of our population is born overseas and/or have at least one parent born overseas and from these 76.8% born in non-English speaking countries. Victorians come from more than 200 countries and practice more than 135 religions! So, this discussion is very timely and appropriate in our 'multicultural experiences' section of our online forums.

    The issue of respect, raised here on a few occasions, consideration for others, and mindfulness about how we may impact others is very important. Inclusion is something we all strive for. If we feel excluded in any way we should raise this with the relevant people and keep doing that every time it happens until it sinks in and change starts to happen. Often others are either not aware of how it feels or just don't care about the impact they are having on others. Communication and honestly are pivotal in any cross-cultural setting like it is in any interaction within the same language.

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  20. Donte'
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    3 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hi Quercus,

    I'm glad you had the opportunity to chat with your husband about what troubles you. It's lovely to maintain communication, openness and emotional honesty. It also shows clearly to him that you include him in this. Beautiful example of a partnership, necessary in relationships in order to thrive and cultivate trust and care.

    It's great that you had a good day and that you feel better about all this. Keep the communication flowing and you will be able to deal with any hurdle that comes along your way. :)

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  21. Donte'
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    3 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hello Quercus,

    As Einstein said, 'If you judge a dissh by its ability to climb a tree, it will be a failure'. Not everyone has a gift in learning languages. Not everyone has to. This doesn't make people who can't or won't learn stupid. We are our worst judges. Do you think perhaps this issue is more about self-confidence rather than language skills? Even if you did manage to learn the language, would you be like me perhaps, and like so many others, criticising yourself for not having the right accent or speaking too slowly or not dreaming in Polish? I'm just thinking aloud here. This is a very interesting topic that perhaps is more than just alphabet and words.

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  22. Donte'
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    5 February 2018 in reply to Donte'
    * A fish (not a dissh)
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  23. Peppermintbach
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    7 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hi Quercus and all,

    Quercus: I’m glad you and your husband were able to clear the air a little about how language is used in your family. That’s wonderful to hear. I’m glad you had that conversation :)

    8 languages? Very, very impressive. That’s a real skill(s) and gift(s) that she possesses. How incredible it must be to listen to her speak.

    Thanks :) I’m bilingual and only understand a little of our third language. I’m slightly annoyed with myself for being extremely lazy with learning our third language. Although on the plus side, if I felt motivated enough, which is part of my problem, it shouldn’t be too difficult to pick up :) The lack of motivation is my main issue...

    It would be nice to learn more languages as well. I would love to learn Spanish as well (that’s not my third language but I would like to learn it purely for my personal interest). But my motivation is questionable at times. Sighs.

    Donte’:

    You said:

    As it takes enormous effort for one to teach and pass on another language to their children, it also takes enormous effort for one to teach and maintain English in the home if parents are from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. No right or wrong. Just individual choices. I believe there are always benefits and disadvantages no matter what people choose to do. So, one has to weigh the plus and minus and decide what's best fro their situation. this principal is applicable to most things in life

    Very eloquently worded, and it pretty much sums up all the different points raised on this thread.

    I’m glad there were no major language related communication issues between you and your daughter. As you said, each family has to work or what suits them in terms of language, and it will vary from family to family. For example, you raising your daughter to be monolingual worked out for you (and your daughter) as did my upbringing with multiple languages works for me too :)

    Kind thoughts to all,

    Pepper

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  24. Quercus
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    10 February 2018 in reply to Peppermintbach

    Hi Pepper and Donte',

    Thanks for your replies. I agree with you Pepper this was powerful for me to read too...

    No right or wrong. Just individual choices. I believe there are always benefits and disadvantages no matter what people choose to do. So, one has to weigh the plus and minus and decide what's best fro their situation.

    Well my kids are enrolled and tomorrow school begins properly. Hubby and I are parent volunteers tomorrow too.

    To be honest though it is why I'm still awake at 1 am on the forums to keep my mind occupied. I am nervous. Last week was ok. The kids loved it. I like the kindy teacher. But I didn't feel welcome.

    A couple of the teachers weren't too happy when they said Dzien Dobry and I replied good morning. Hubby asked about non Polish helpers and straight away I got told I can help in the canteen. Yay dish washing and cash handling every Saturday? Yeah not my idea of being involved with my children's schooling. Sigh.

    It is totally different from hearing hubby and his family speak to eachother. A crowd of people all speaking at once. I can't follow any of it. And most of all I feel stupid and awkward and like I really shouldn't be there.

    Maybe tomorrow will feel easier in a small class. I hope so.

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  25. Quercus
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    12 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hi again everyone,

    Arrgh. Ok losing the plot here of late. Managing multiple languages just feels like another drama and pressure piled on.

    The kindy teacher told me about how the parent at home is the most important influence on whether kids will learn multiple languages. My enthusiasm is apparently crucial. This makes sense to me as now my son has started kindy he's reluctant to use Polish because English comes easier for him.

    And yet since Polish school on Sat the kids have been treating me with even less respect than usual. My son especially. He just ignores me and waits for my husband to tell him in Polish. Even in front of my inlaws he just ignores me and waits for his grandfather to say something. And now my daughter is copying him.

    It began at the class when hubby told him it was Polish only. He kept telling me off for speaking English. And has gotten worse. The only thing is everything has gone to chaos here at the moment so I'm not sure if he sees me as stupid now or if he's just being awful.

    Anyone else experienced this?

    Nat

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  26. CMF
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    12 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Oh Nat,

    how awful for you. I too would feel the same as you, I wouldn't like it. It's amazing how children can pick up at such a young age how to manipulate parents. Once Again, i think hubby should be stepping in here and making it clear ir is not acceptable behaviour to be ignoring you because you speak in English.. Perhaps a time out is required when he ignores you?

    cmf x

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  27. Quercus
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    12 February 2018 in reply to CMF

    Hello again CMF,

    Oh don't worry he is aware and the kids are getting very used to "what did Mum ask you to do" in Polish. But it is making no difference. I tried bringing back time out today and got an hour straight screaming tantrum for my efforts. Then he went right back to using his mattress as a slide.

    After today I'm wondering if it is a language thing at all. Maybe it is as I suspect a terrible parenting thing.

    I have always been a pushover. Hubby and his family are very strict so I always cut the kids some slack to let them be little kids somewhere. And it sounds horrible but Polish can be a bit of a harsh sounding language so even if I'm screeching like a banshee the kids just look amused. Hubby said it is the tone I use. I can't even get the dog to sit. He on the other hand when he is angry he sounds ANGRY. And our kids listen.

    I'm waffling sorry. Not really sure what is going on in the chaos of my brain.

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  28. Donte'
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    12 February 2018 in reply to Quercus

    Hello Quercus,

    I feel sad reading your experience.

    You must feel so helpless in the midst of this. How about your needs as a mother and a wife? How about the need for respect?

    If I was in this situation I would speak to my husband immediately and come up with a mutual agreement and discipline plan for the kids. No one should be ridiculed and feel that they're inferior just because of a language difference. You are still the mother no matter what language you speak and your son, your husband and your in laws should respect this and treat you accordingly.

    Honestly, I admire you putting up with so much pressure. I think I wouldn't even turn up at the school again if it was me. I would join some other hobby and keep busy on Saturday mornings and let the rest of the family carry on with the indoctrination. But that's me. :)

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  29. CMF
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    12 February 2018 in reply to Donte'
    I agree with Donte. Kids need to be allowed to be kids.
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  30. Donte'
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    12 February 2018 in reply to Hayfa

    Hello Hayfa,

    Of course each situation is different. I guess as I arrived at the age of 18 to Australia and having finished high school in Greece, for my family it was more important to learn English asap for my sake (as I had to enter tertiary studies), and theirs (as they were employed by Australian church charities and English was pivotal for their careers). So maintaining the Greek wasn't a priority for us.

    It is different if you are a child of a migrant family born in Australia and especially if that family plans to return back to their 'homeland' one day. This is the case with many migrants of the 50s and 60s who only migrated temporarily to make some money and return to their country of origin when the crisis is over. In that sense it makes sense to want your kids to understand and speak the mother tongue of the parents as they'll need to integrate back to their country of origin once they decide to return to their homeland.

    On the topic of English, I find it intriguing that the million migrants living currently in Greece learn to speak fluent Greek within a few months of their arrival (as there's no way they'll find work or survive otherwise), whereas thousands of Greeks in Australia still don't speak English after 50 or 60 years of being here!

    Personally, I believe that once you migrate to a country, it is to your interests and an asset for you to embrace the culture and live like the people in that country (my mum always said: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"), and that means you learn the language of the country as quickly as practicable, and speak it whenever others are around who may not understand your native tongue. It is simply respect. And it's easier I guess for the 200 ethnicities living in our State to learn one language - English, than everyone else to learn 200 languages! I usually find it rude when I walk somewhere and people speak another language and totally ignore me. If my in laws spoke another language in front of me I would simply stop visiting. (Now, if I was in their homeland, that would be a different story).

    2 people found this helpful

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