1. Welcome to the new Styleforum!

    We hope you’re as excited as we are to hang out in the new place. There are more new features that we’ll announce in the near future, but for now we hope you’ll enjoy the new site.

    We are currently fine-tuning the forum for your browsing pleasure, so bear with any lingering dust as we work to make Styleforum even more awesome than it was.

    Oh, and don’t forget to head over to the Styleforum Journal, because we’re giving away two pairs of Carmina shoes to celebrate our move!

    Please address any questions about using the new forum to support@styleforum.net

    Cheers,

    The Styleforum Team

    Dismiss Notice

kids

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by globetrotter, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. Sevcom

    Sevcom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2002
    Location:
    New York
    Fabienne, your anecdotes remind me of my own childhood. Growing up, my mom and my maternal grandmom both wanted me to learn Tagalog and to keep me in touch with the Filipino part of my heritage. But I was obstinate, refusing to learn words and eat some dishes. I was an American first and foremost, I told them; I was born here, and I feel more American than anything else. (My dad and his siblings were much more laissez-faire, having essentially grown up here.) My grandmother, especially, kept trying, but five-year-olds have that remarkable pigheadedness when they have their minds set on something.

    Nowadays, I regret not having learned Tagalog and learning more about Filipino culture. I've certainly learned more of the latter, though at this point I might have to resign myself with understanding bits of the language without being able to speak it. Make no mistake: I still consider myself American above all, and I'd consider myself very well-versed in other cultures, though my French is mostly rudimentary. But I sometimes feel pangs from the absence of that other part of my heritage. Perhaps it's intimately linked to memories of my grandmother, who died when I was about 10 or 11.

    Needless to say, that's a mistake I'd try to spare my kids. And I'll look to three of my cousins as models: they're half-Swiss and half-Filipino, and they live in France, formerly in Geneva. They speak fluent French and English, since my aunt spoke with them nearly exclusively in English while they spoke exclusively French with their babysitters and then at school. One is picking up German and another Italian, and both are struggling with Romansh. The third's eight years old, though I've no doubt she'll follow in her brothers' footsteps. They still consider themselves Swiss, but they have a grasp of the other parts of their heritage that probably reach deeper than my broad but academic knowledge of mine.
     
  2. johnapril

    johnapril Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,663
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    One family I know has taken to introducing to their 3-year-old daughter people brought in to their house as "uncle (first name)" or "aunt (first name)." I'm unsure how to feel about it. I don't ask for an explanation.
     
  3. globetrotter

    globetrotter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    20,605
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    greater chicago
    not to insult polish, but it may not have been the best investment of your time, and that might be part of what your grandfather was thinking. My wife and I have pretty much decided not to teach my son hebrew, until we are confident with his spanish, and probrably we will work on french and german before hebrew. sometimes it is more important to settle into the primary language than teach a language that will be less useful.

    the mutliculturalism issue is very important for us. we made sure to get him into a nursury with both staff and children from all over the world, we do a lot of cultural activities that are mulitcultural and we have traveled quite a bit and will travel a lot with him. the only real worry I had in moving to the states was in losing a "global" attitude in my kids, so we are very focused on that.
     
  4. Fabienne

    Fabienne Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,030
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2004
    No language is a lesser language, be it Polish, Tagalog, Breton, Hebrew or English. Especially when you tie it to your origins, your heritage. I have heard successful stories of children learning three languages at once, as in your case, but it does demand great commitment. I can't imagine how difficult it must be. I have friends who are raising a daughter in the US. He's French, she's Japanese. The husband feels a little defeated at times, as is understandable.

    You know, I spent over 6 years learning Russian because I never could take Polish (it was not offered in French High Schools). The heart often dictates what the mind doesn't understand.
     
  5. globetrotter

    globetrotter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    20,605
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    greater chicago
    here we will have to disagree - of course in the heart all languages are the same. in practical terms a person can have the right 4 langages and have access to 60% of the world population, or can have 10 languages and have access to a few hundred thousand people in one country of africa.

    I know a few kids who learned 3 languages by the age of 3, usually it is a practical matter of getting the right critical mass of adults speaking to the child in each language. I have friends whose daughter at age 3 would say everything 3 times, she would say a sentance first in english, then spanish then hebrew, because for a window of time she could speak the languages but she didn't have the skills to make a decision about who to spak what language to, so she plaid it safe. very cute and of course it only lasted for a month or so.
     
  6. Mike

    Mike Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    437
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2002
    Location:
    Detroit Area
    I don't think her parents thought that her learning Polish wouldn't have made her as successful as Spanish would, its more of the old thought of starting anew and assimilating in a new culture. My great grandparents did not want my parents to learn Polish either, since they were Americans now they should speak the most prevailent language at the time in America, which was english. My grandparents didn't count, since they already knew Polish, given that my great grandparents spoke nothing else.
     
  7. globetrotter

    globetrotter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    20,605
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    greater chicago
    you are probrably right as to the motivation - my maternal grandparents were both born in poland and although my mother speaks four langauges she doesn't speak polish.
     
  8. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    13,141
    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2004
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Personally at least I've found it's fairly common to call family friends "uncle or aunt" at least in the Asian cultures that I am familiar with. I'm sure most people realize that there isn't a relation with the person in question, but they are also closer than a complete stranger. Chinese cultures are fairly formal in terms of forms of address, even friends will address each other as "mr. so and so" unless really close and in a very informal setting. As far as language is concerned, when I have kids I will likely speak to them in only Mandarin (and some other dialects) and let them learn English from school and have them learn a tertiary language from school as well, as although I'm fluent in Spanish and somewhat so in German and Japanese, my command of those languages is certainly not good enough to teach them.
     
  9. Stu

    Stu Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,351
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2002
    Location:
    Princeton
    I have a similar situation in that my wife is Puerto Rican, and I am Anglo. Both my wife and I are completely bilingual and speak each other's native languages accent free.

    But my wife has always spoken Spanish to my daughter, and I speak about 50/50 English and Spanish to her.
    The experts and their system be dammed. I don't buy that theory, because kids at that age are programmed to sort out language. You are just challenging them to think in 2 languages at the same time, and stimulating their brains at wharp speed.

    The upshot: My kid, at age 4.5, speaks 2 languages fluently without an accent in either.
     
  10. Fabienne

    Fabienne Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,030
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2004
    (Mike @ Feb. 21 2005,06:42) I don't think her parents thought that her learning Polish wouldn't have made her as successful as Spanish would, its more of the old thought of starting anew and assimilating in a new culture. Â My great grandparents did not want my parents to learn Polish either, since they were Americans now they should speak the most prevailent language at the time in America, which was english. Â My grandparents didn't count, since they already knew Polish, given that my great grandparents spoke nothing else.
    you are probrably right as to the motivation - my maternal grandparents were both born in poland and although my mother speaks four langauges she doesn't speak polish.
    I think my father's motivations were unclear to him. Some of it might have been that, as a son of Polish immigrants, he felt he suffered from the fact that his parents couldn't help him with his school work. He always put a huge emphasis on academic success. He was probably ridiculed by other kids for his last name (I was). He never did explain why he didn't allow me to soak it in. I use that term because it would have been so easy for me to learn it. There were grandparents and great-grandparents around who could have reinforced it. There is a large population of Polish immigrants in France. Then of course, people were not as enlightened then about bilingualism, and most thought it would be to the detriment of children. However, other traditions were kept and treasured, such as food, arts and crafts, dance (in my family). So I'm not so sure about the integration factor. They were or had become French, but the Polish aspects of their character was by no means forgotten. When I went to Poland, I felt very familiar with what I saw, ate, how people interacted with each other, etc. (except for the vodka drinking, wow.). The irony of it all, is that I could REALLY use Polish in my job...
     
  11. Fabienne

    Fabienne Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,030
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2004
    (Fabienne @ Feb. 20 2005,06:31) my husband did a bit of both, which, I know, is not what experts advise (one language/one parent system).
    I have a similar situation in that my wife is Puerto Rican, and I am Anglo. Both my wife and I are completely bilingual and speak each other's native languages accent free. Â But my wife has always spoken Spanish to my daughter, and I speak about 50/50 English and Spanish to her. The experts and their system be dammed. I don't buy that theory, because kids at that age are programmed to sort out language. You are just challenging them to think in 2 languages at the same time, and stimulating their brains at wharp speed. The upshot: My kid, at age 4.5, speaks 2 languages fluently without an accent in either.
    OK, good, that's encouraging. [​IMG]
     
  12. globetrotter

    globetrotter Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    20,605
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Location:
    greater chicago
    (Stu @ Feb. 21 2005,13:24)
    my husband did a bit of both, which, I know, is not what experts advise (one language/one parent system).
    I have a similar situation in that my wife is Puerto Rican, and I am Anglo. Both my wife and I are completely bilingual and speak each other's native languages accent free. Â But my wife has always spoken Spanish to my daughter, and I speak about 50/50 English and Spanish to her. The experts and their system be dammed. I don't buy that theory, because kids at that age are programmed to sort out language. You are just challenging them to think in 2 languages at the same time, and stimulating their brains at wharp speed. The upshot: My kid, at age 4.5, speaks 2 languages fluently without an accent in either.
    OK, good, that's encouraging. Â [​IMG]
    the cutest is when they are trying to figure out what langauge to speak to whom, i have seen kids at a certain age convinced that an individual speaks spanish, and translate everything for them, even though that person understands english. my son will sometimes "translate" for me - he will tell me what my wife said, even though I understood.
     
  13. Fabienne

    Fabienne Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,030
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2004
    Yep, same scenario here. he'll repeat the same word or sentence in French for me, or in English for his father.

    He gets upset with me if I tell him, while reading a book in German, that the butterfly is a "Schmetterling". He'll look at me, frown, and say, "Non, c'est un papillon." He used to do that between English and French, but he has accepted the duality at this point.

    The other funny thing is when he says something pretty much unintelligible and you try to figure out which language it might be in. For a while, some time ago, he had me stomped with "Blanquette". He kept saying the word, perfect French accent, and I thought: How could he possibly know this dish (it's a veal dish with a lemony cream sauce). I wouldn't put it past his father to start reading cookbooks to him at night. Only to figure out, silly me, that he meant "Blanket".

    Our current riddle is the word "Bouge", which he says when he sees snow or mountains.
     

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by