В прошлой статье мы начали разговор о том, как воспитать детей-билингвов. Для того, чтобы поподробнее узнать, как же научить детей говорить на двух языках одинаково уверенно, мы побеседовали с интересной двуязычной семьей, в которой папа всегда говорил со своими четырьмя детьми по-русски, а мама - по-английски. Кстати, вот и мама - Эйми Швед. Беседовать с ней я буду, естественно, по-английски.
In most families mothers usually spend more time with their kids than dads do. This means that the ratio of a child exposure to mom’s language is greater. Would you say that this situation makes kids more proficient in their mom’s language? Why/Why not?
Possibly. It depends on what language is being spoken in the culture they are living. If they live for example in an English speaking culture and their mother speaks English all the time with them then they will probably know this language better than the one they speak with their father only a few hours a day. In our family we live in a Russian speaking culture, so my children had lots of exposure to Russian and I speak with them only in English. As they got older, the amount of time they spent reading and speaking English increased as they entered school and I studied with them. When we visit the U.S.A. I can see how their English skills grow stronger and my husband has to really make an effort to get them to use their Russian daily.
|Илья, Джонатан и Матвей Швед, 2009 г.|
There are different stages in a child’s language acquisition. From your experience, which stage has been the most difficult for your children’s bilingual development?
For each child it was different. For one of my children it was very difficult for him to speak at first, mixing both English and Russian words; for another it was learning to read in both Russian and English. I think the challenge in raising bilingual children is to expose them to enough of your language and culture that they feel at home and it feels natural for them to express themselves in either language. In the beginning that is simply teaching them how to say simple phrases that all two or three year olds would say. As they grow older you must teach them to read and write and help them understand grammar and how to build sentences in each language. It is important to expose them to lots of literature, TV shows and movies to expand their vocabulary and help them learn slang words (hopefully good ones). My kids tended to make progress in spurts, sometimes in their Russian other times in their English. All along we made it a priority to speak with them and read with them.
What would you recommend to the parents who speak to a child a language other than the language of the country where they live?
Be consistent. You need to speak to them that language all the time at home if possible. To learn a language children need to hear it and they need to speak it themselves. We always make our children answer us in the language we are speaking to them. If you are speaking Spanish to them and they are always answering you in English, tell them to answer you in Spanish and repeat with them how to answer. From the time our children could speak every day we were repeating with them, correcting their words, grammar, and pronunciation. Language learning is lifelong learning and takes a lot of effort. Try to find good children’s books and classics and read them to your kids.