Parents eye view of Bilingualism in reality – Sweden

Often as teachers we have little contact with parents, or even if we do they do not tell us how they feel about bilingualism and I wonder if sometimes they feel that they have no one to talk to either, and actually worry that they are doing ‘it’ wrong.  This is why I thought I would share this with you from Sweden where a mother explains how she notices her child becoming a confident bilingual speaker and expresses a little about how she feels.

http://www.thelocal.se/41118/20120529/ is the direct link to it or read it below. It is a great insight into the reality of bilingualism from the parenst perspective and the fact that she writes : ‘Interestingly, my two friends that were the most satisfied with their kids’ development were those who grew up with more than one language in their lives themselves. With the benefit of perspective that I lack on this issue, they seem able to embrace their kids’ language as a skilled yet imperfect work in progress.’ shows the teacher at work even as a mum.

The other day, I noticed a new dynamic in our family. Actually, if I look back, the change has been gradual, but I never really thought too much about it until last week when the kids came home from school.

After two years here in Sweden, Swedish is now our kids’ dominant language. This is how I found out.
Erik and Gabrielle were in the backyard, taking advantage of the year’s first streak of warm weather to jump themselves silly on our trampoline. And since it’s just the three of us, we’re all speaking English.
Then, Gabrielle says she’s thirsty, so I go inside and get a pitcher and some glasses. As I return to the back door, I pause and listen. They are speaking Swedish.
I walk back out with the water and call them over. They switch back to English. I’m curious, so I decide to test it: will they switch if I leave again? I walk inside again but stay by the door listening to the conversation.
I wish I could report that they meandered off into deep thoughts or were showering each other with compliments.  Actually, they started arguing.
“I want the tupp glas,” whined Gabrielle. She couldn’t come up with the English word rooster immediately, so she switched over to Swedish; tupp glas,” instead of rooster glass”. And Erik followed her.
I tested my theory a few times over the week, and the conversations followed the same pattern. And it never happened the opposite way; not once during a Swedish conversation did they spontaneously switch over to English.
I don’t mind this change at all. I want our kids to feel at home here in Sweden, and that feeling of connection is related, in part, to strong Swedish skills.
But this new development in our kids’ language raised a question that I hadn’t considered in a long time: what are my goals for our kids’ language growth?
As an idealist new parent, my goal was lofty and vague: they should be bilingual. I should have known better. Personal experience as well as education research suggests that bilingualism exists on a continuum.
It’s a practice that must constantly be maintained, and it can vary greatly among individuals. Bilingualism was a good starting point, but as an achievable goal, it ranked somewhere near my (broken) New Year’s resolutions like “eat healthier” and “write a novel”: good intentions, mediocre results… at best.
When we moved to Sweden, my goal was to keep the kids on par with grade-level Americans in speech, reading and writing… in case we decide to move back at some point.
Actually, I didn’t articulate this goal so clearly to myself, but now I can see this was my underlying expectation. But now I wasn’t sure if this was realistic.
Everything I had read in and out of education classes emphasized that successful bilingualism should be a conscious process, constantly reevaluated and fine-tuned.
Taking a page out of the guidelines for successful New Year’s resolutions, I set out to create some goals that were process-based (as opposed to result-based) and measurable.
But where to start?
While pondering, I realized there’s also some outside pressure related to this goal: home language classes.
Recently, I was told that, starting in 6th grade, my son’s home language teacher was going to give him his English grade, and it would be based on native, grade-level assessment. Now, my son has a very nice home language teacher, but how is this man expected to teach him the nuances of grade level English during one 45-minute class per week?
And as the primary English influence in their lives, the task of getting Erik and Gabrielle on par with their American counterparts would mostly be mine.
Was I up to this daily task? Just the thought of getting Erik’s hilariously phonetical spelling, governed by Swedish letter sounds, up to speed was enough to steer me in another direction. “Hapj brfdaj”? Where do I even start with that?
I had already done my reading, so I decided to do some research of a different kind: I asked my friends, two of which are managing three languages at home.
And despite the fact that I only have five native English-speaking friends here, their answers reached all ends of the spectrum.
Three had goals for their kids; two did not. A different two were satisfied with their kids’ progress in English—interestingly, friends’ satisfaction levels were not correlated to their kids’ skill levels.
Despite the range, I could identify with them all. Here are a few, insightful observations:
“It’s the little details that get fuzzy,” said one friend, “like saying ‘I’ll hop over it’ instead of ‘I’ll skip it.’ My kids don’t hear it’s wrong, and after a while, I don’t either.”
As my friend says this, I wonder if it is even possible for me to give my kids the native ear for the language. Surrounded by Swedish-influenced English mistakes, this seemed to be an uphill battle.
After being here for a few years, another friend had relaxed her expectations.
“I don’t want language to be a source of anxiety for the kids,” she said.
“Now, my goal is to help them develop a base so that, given a transition period, they could adapt to their next English situation.”
One friend found her kids’ difficulties with English was a source of frustration.
“It’s like the communication between me and my kids comes through a filter. When I hear other kids their age back home speaking English, I feel like I’m missing something of my own kids’ true personalities.”
But my goal-free friend who keeps up three languages in her home was much more sanguine:
“They’ll be fine,” she says.
And she should know: she grew up in a Spanish-speaking country, but spoke English around the house with her American mom. Then, she went to college in the US, directly into classes with the other native speakers.
“I won’t lie—my first semester was really difficult. All I did was study, but by the next semester, I was fine.”
Now, she supports both Spanish and English here in Sweden.
“For a long time, my son answered me in Swedish. But a few weeks ago, we spent some time with a Spanish exchange student. Now, he’s switched back to Spanish with me.”
In other words, relax. Don’t worry too much about the future. Det löser sig.
Interestingly, my two friends that were the most satisfied with their kids’ development were those who grew up with more than one language in their lives themselves.
With the benefit of perspective that I lack on this issue, they seem able to embrace their kids’ language as a skilled yet imperfect work in progress.
With all this in mind, I made some process-oriented, measurable goals—things that we’ll do every day to work on English. Because, regardless of any larger goals I decide on, the reality is that I have little control over the end result; that’s up to the kids. It’s the process that’s in my hands.
Research and personal experience suggest that there is no one correct approach; in the end, we are all experimenting, and we have a lot to learn from each other.

Its ok to read your child bilingual books – USA

I was pleased to see this written by an american literacy group.  As a teacher I encountered many parents who told me that their child must only speak English and were to be punished in some cases if they did not. This was not something I subscribed to as I believe you should develop your first as well as any subsequent language.  However, I can understand their fear that any distraction including their first lanaguge was a bad thing and detrimental to their learning.  Infact as more research is done on this it is becoming clearer that it enhances the childs understanding so it is refreshing to hear literacy specialists confirming what I had already observed and followed in my teaching. You can read about their finding at: http://www.literacynews.com/2012/05/raising-a-bilingual-child-on-books/

Raising a  Bilingual Child on Books

Books are a great way to help your kids broaden their vocabulary and teach the heritage and traditions of diverse cultures. Reading is essential, no matter the language that your child is learning. It helps assemble the required groundwork for improving both language and literacy from a young age.

In What Language Should You Read?

If you use the OPOL method (One Person, One Language i.e. the father and/or mother speaks another language) to rear your kids bilingual, many experts agree to stick with the language that you normally use when you speak. If you speak in Spanish to your child, read him or her books in Spanish. The benefit of bilingual books—and you can choose from many in the English-Spanish-combination—is that both parents can read the same book in their own language. You can uncover a range of bilingual, English or Spanish books in the library, book store, or online. If you can understand English and cannot locate books in Spanish, you can read any book, translating to your language as you read. In terms of teaching your child to read, research reveals that it’s simpler on the native tongue of your child. As the parent, you must decide which language to teach your child. If you use the method mL @ H (minority language at home), and Spanish is the minority language, then this is the language that you employ to teach your child to read.

With the OPOL method, a language always dominates over the other. For example, if you reside in the U.S. and are teaching your child English and Spanish, you’ll likely find it easier to teach reading in English, which is the principal language in your community. But residing in the U.S. and not speaking English doesn’t imply you cannot teach reading to your children in Spanish. You have to realize that teaching reading in Spanish will not hurt your children or slow them down. Instead, it’ll impart them with the foundation which they need to read in English.

Remember that you only need to understand how to read once. I frequently hear parents say that Spanish speakers  residing in the U.S. have ceased reading at home because they worry that reading in Spanish can confuse their children. As the parent, you are the first teacher and influencer of language for your children, so it is critical that you feel comfortable using your own native language.

(C) LiteracyNews.com

GCSE Success – UK

GCSE results for EAL students are doing well in inner London but not as well in the East of England, the North East and North West. In London English as an addional langauge learners are outperforming native English speakers by 4% points last year.

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6241719

To support these pupils EMASUK have a set of GCSE Success books.

Every child that sits their GCSE has the same battle, understanding the questions. This is even more difficult if their first language is not English, research has shown that it takes twice as long to answer questions due to the translation and deciphering of terminology. This book supports non English speaking examinees with a simple to understand booklet showing and explaining the term then giving actual exam questions to develop understanding and clarify the response.

In English, French, German, Gujerati, Somali, Polish, Chinese Cantonese, Chinese Mandarin, Hungarian, Russian, Turkish and Slovakian.

http://shop.emasuk.com/category/2617/exam_success_books

Eurovision Song Contest 2012 – International

Two cultures have crossed inside me. I can write music which can be equally understood by Africans and Ukrainians”

 Gaitana Ukrainian 2012

A few years ago we met our friend  Юра (Yannis, Ukranian) at the Global Educational Technology Summit in Brussels.  Thanks to our new communication tools we were able to converse in Russian. To date we still communicate but it is getting easier and tonight we have been able to communiate via facebook.  Юра speaks only Russian and Ukranian and I dont speak either of these langauges, but thanks to improved technology we are able to keep in contact.  So I will also be cheering on the Ukraine as well as the UK and yes the Irish entry…but be secretly hoping the Russians grannies get somewhere in the top 3.

Good luck Gaitana, Engelbert and Jedward. Those of us in the UK use the red button and become instant bilinguals.

Radio 2 Innovation – EMASUK Hand Held Translator – UK

Image

To see Rebeccas tweet go to pic.twitter.com/WLUm6BDg

Yesterday we were on the Queens Jubilee train to London, weather brilliant sunshine and one of the best train journeys by the coast.  Arriving in Paddington the hustle and bustle greet us.

After being sent around the BBC building twice we finally find Great Western House and Rebecca meets us. She is welcoming and nice, we chat about the product and decide that John will speak as it is easier if there is only one of us. After a short wait we are on John talks to Rebecca and Simon about the handheld translator and shows it working. As soon as it began it is all over and we are having photos taken with Simon and Rebecca they were both lovely as was everyone esle we met in the team. Strangely one of them lives near to St Chads School where I was Deputy Head for a short while.  Thank You.

See a demo at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DOIckeKwfQ or

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CU3AnuwV24E&feature=channel&list=UL

Find out more at www.emasuk.com or use this link

http://shop.emasuk.com/category-2618.wtl

ICT Resource for Migrants – Worldwide

Has anyone seen this resource?

EMASUK – EMASUK.com have a range of resources to support English as an additional language from a resource vault which teachers can download from 24/7, to talking technologies including Talking Tutor, Text Tutor and the award winning Two Can Talk. Their most recent offering is a hand held unit which can be carried around easily and speaks out in a choice of 25 langauges.  See a video here to show their award winning bilingual book called Pip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-ybfuUHbWg&feature=related

They also do bilingual books that support the first days in a new school, Maths and exam preparation. I found it at www.emasuk.com

Do you want to win 10 books for your school – UK

Just seen this from TTS.

For years TTS has brought you the highest level of innovation when it comes to hands on teacher resources, now we’re also bringing you the best teacher books!
Our range of practical books covers everything from Teacher Support to D&T. Visit the publishing section of our website to see our full range.
You could win 10 books of your choice from the new range worth £150!  Click on the link below.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BJ2YGQF

What languages do you speak

Academics brand categorisation of ethnic pupils ‘almost useless’ -UK

Have you seen this today? Schools should know how every child in their school is achieving, they take lots of ethnic statistics yet there is a growing band of Europeans who are lost in the statistics.

See more in the article from CYP below.

http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1073310/academics-brand-ethnic-categories-pupils-useless?