Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sarah asked

About answering questions about the bilingual thing.

Well, I like talking about it. Two of the useless diplomas I have are in Linguistics so it's a domaine I enjoy discussing. But when it comes to my kids, I have very little souplesse. Making sure that English is a big part of their world is my mission. And I'm pretty uptight about it. The amount of exposure they get to English per day is a constant concern. It's one of the main reasons I don't like it that they have to eat at the cafeteria twice a week. That's 8 uninterrupted hours of French. So when people make comments about my strict attitude (which is never overtly expressed but more an implicit understanding between the boys and me) about our language use, I tend to become aggressive with statistics and book titles and linguistic jargon. Which, I realize, is not the most practical path to understanding but sometimes I can't help it. It's visceral. Language is viseral. But, in general, people here are interested in how blingualism works and admirative of the boys and the discussions are almost always positive.

There's such a fine line for bicultural kids. You want them to feel at home where they live, but you want them to feel linked to the other country too. And for me, language is that bridge.

Which is not to say that I will be more successful than those parents who are cooler about the whole bilingual thing. It's a crap shoot. We'll see in 10 years.


beth said...

I think you are doing a wonderful thing. I've often wished that my grandparents would have spoken Italian around me instead of insisting of using only the language of the land. So - bravo to you.

Reb said...

Well stated Nicole. I would say much the same thing. I'm strict too since I miss out on so much English time because I have to work full time.
But I think being strict is how they will learn the language best.

In any case, it sounds like you are doing a great job and it's interesting for me to see how other bilinguals kids are being raised (confused?)

Nicole said...

Beth - being bilingual was really rare for that generation's kids.

Reb - Definitely confused!

Sarah said...

I get very excited talking about bilingualism too--and I only have a couple of grad classes in linguistics--no actual degrees like you! It sounds like being dogmatic about using English with your kids is paying off. Wonder what they'll say about it down the road? They'll probably be extremely appreciative. Sure hope so!