kids

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

  1. Sevcom

    Sevcom Senior member

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    Growing up, I always called adults as "Mr./Ms. <Surname>" (and until eighth grade, "Mrs.") unless they specifically requested I call them by their first name. And even now, in my (almost.) mid-twenties, I still do that. I even use "sir" and "ma'am" unironically.

    Dan's right, I think, in that kids should learn to give due respect to their elders, and when I have tots of my own, I'll teach them what my parents taught me.
     


  2. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    (globetrotter @ Feb. 18 2005,15:45)
    When it's people he doesn't know very well, he says "Monsieur", "Madame", "Dame" (Sir, Ma'am, lady), even to English speakers. Â For friends, he usually uses their first name. Â Even though he persists in calling one of our best friends and frequent visitor "Monsieur", which makes the monsieur in question a little sad for not having "graduated". This is America, though, where being informal is a national sport. Â Your son is probably very perceptive. I find kids will typically use the name/title you introduce yourself as, isn't it so?
    F, do you speak french with your husband? My wife speaks spanish with my son, but it is very clearly as "forign" language for him - I think because he doesn't see enough adults speaking it. he has a great vocabulary, but an accent and his default is english. we will say to him "so and so speaks spanish" and he will then talk spanish, but it isn't natural. I want to get him into some type of framework to give him an opportunity to practice with more people.
    My husband and I speak English to each other most of the time. Â Since our child was born, I have only spoken French to him, and my husband did a bit of both, which, I know, is not what experts advise (one language/one parent system). Â But it works, overall. Â My husband's French has improved greatly, and my son doesn't seem confused by the fact that his father speaks two languages to him. Â It's simple things like "Wait a minute", or "Are you hungry". Â Aside from our usage of language, we try to reinforce French through television (TV5, a francophone channel) and cartoons in French. Â My mother comes to visit for 3 weeks at a time when she has a vacation (she doesn't speak English). Â Books are read in French by me, in English by my husband. Our next holidays will be spent in Montreal, so he witnesses a French speaking environment (and so my husband can run errands on Peel street...) I introduce a little German to him when my German friend comes to visit (she and I speak German to each other), and he catches on, but it wouldn't be frequent enough for him to learn it (although his favorite book is a German children's book). Â I know all this won't be sufficient for him to be truly bilingual, but he tends to favor French for now, even though he hears English most of the day at the daycare. He plays in French by himself. Â Keep in mind he is only 2 1/2, so his language skills have yet to develop quite a bit more. Â We'll see. Â We hope to get him into an international school with a French track where English is gradually introduced through the grades, culminating with the International baccalaureate.
    its not easy. for my sons first 2 years, he was in a truly trilingual enviroment - spanish with my wife, my mother in law who lived near us and our nanny, english with me, hebrew at day care and on the street. he understood everything that was said in all three, but he was very aprehensive about speaking. once we cut the hebrew out, almost immidiatly he started speaking better and constantly (although it coresponded with his second birthday, so it may have been a coincidence). he is very familiar with sounds of other languages, and understands that different people speak other langauges (for instance, he knows that elephants speak french due to babar, and that the japanese monkeys in the central park zoo eat sushi, or my friend vlad speaks russian and my friend rudiger speaks german) when he is a little older I want to sent him to spend summers with friends of mine in france, germany, india and egypt, and he spends time every year in latin america so I am hoping that his langauge skills will turn out to be pretty good. the hard part is teaching a language without the critical mass of adults- I think in the states spanish is easier to maintain than english because it is so common it is easy to find people for him to speak with - waitresses at the diner, one of his nursury school teachers, our cleaning lady, the mothers of several of his friends.
     


  3. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    I had a good friend whose father ended up working with me for a short time in my twenties as more or less an equal - it was very ahrd for me to get past calling him "Mr. so and so" and call him by his first name...
     


  4. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    GB, yes, it is not easy to maintain a second or especially a third language when one lives in the US. For me, I made the decision I would never do what my father did: even though he spoke Polish, he never allowed me to learn a single word. As a young child, I would beg and ask "How does one say "Cat" in Polish?" He would ignore the request. I felt so betrayed when we went to Poland and I realized he spoke it fluently. I snatched a few Polish words from my great-grandmother, I found other ways. I could feel she had been instructed not to speak it to me.

    I spent years and years on school benches learning English and German and a few other languages. If I can spare some of that to my son, I will do all I can so it may happen. We are not solely talking language aquisition, here. It is also about being multicultural and having greater understanding of code-switching and awareness of other cultures and ways of doing things. Moreover, several studies have shown that bilingual kids have better abilities (even in unrelated subjects like math) compared to monolingual kids. It is also far easier for those kids to learn a third or fourth language.

    With Spanish, your options are greater. I have a friend from Honduras who has three children. Two of them accepted their multiculturalism. One of them refused to speak Spanish, and to eat "Latino" dishes. He preferred the regular American fare. At age 20, a complete switch occured, and he somehow came to grips with the value of his father's culture. He is now taking Spanish classes to perfect his Spanish, and he eats empenadas again...

    My friend from Germany has one daughter in her late teens who adores everything German and seems to have decided to define her identity by espousing a "European" point of view. She excels in all subjects at school. Her other daughter refuses to speak German, and will do so only if she has no other option. She is 3 years younger and introverted.

    There might be a time that my son refuses to speak French and eat quiche. I will not stop to speak that language to him, but it will break my heart, and I won't let him know that it does.
     


  5. Kai

    Kai Senior member

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    My children have been taught to address adults as Mr. Mrs. or Ms. (in conjunction with their surname)
     


  6. Sevcom

    Sevcom Senior member

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    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.
     


  7. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    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.
     


  8. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    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.
     


  9. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    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.
     


  10. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    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.
     


  11. Mike

    Mike Senior member

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    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.
     


  12. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    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.
     


  13. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    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.
     


  14. Stu

    Stu Senior member

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    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.
     


  15. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    (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...
     


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