If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that my girls are bilingual. Obviously, I am Romanian but their daddy is English so although we don’t live in England anymore I am trying as much as I can to teach my girls about their home country as well. They were both born at St’ George’s Hospital in Wandsworth, London.
Miss K lived half her life in London and half in my hometown and if you ask her what nationality she is she will always say: “First english, than Romanian”. For my youngest, Miss A things are a little bit different you see. At first she looks puzzled but after a bit of thinking she will answer: “I am Romanian and…English.” You see we moved away from London when she was only 5 months old and she is now almost 5 years old.
They both continue to speak English although less than 40% of the time when their dad is not at home with us. I know not very good but I would love them to have their daddy accent in English and not mine and when we visited England two years ago it was obvious that at least Miss K accent changed…A friend even said that Miss K started to sound a bit like me…when I speak in English…
Luckily when their daddy is hear they mostly speak in English – more than 70% of the time. Their daddy only speaks English so with him they only communicate in English.
Miss K learned how to think in English when she was still in UK and with Miss A for the first two years of her life I spoke mostly in English and she has that skill too. I think that this is an important skill in keeping english as their first language although they both think in Romanian most of the time…
What steps I took to ensure they continue to think in English
- Talking with their daddy daily when possible – although he travels a lot whenever the time allows they both talk to their daddy via the phone or FaceTime.
- Play in english – I encourage them to speak in english between each other when they play.
- Watch cartoon and movies in English – kids love their tablets and their time in front of TV so I make sure the programs they watch are always in English(not possible when the programs on TV are in Romanian).
- Teach them english nursery rhymes and songs – Miss K favourite nursery rhyme when we were living in UK was Row, Row, Row Your Boat so this was the first Miss A learned too. Of course we sing other songs too and from their other favourites I should mention “Twinkle twinkle” and “Five Little Ducks Went Out One Day”.
- Read them bedtime stories in English – We have over 40 books in english for all ages ever since I was an Usborne distributor in UK and we continue to buy maybe even more books in english than in romanian. My hubby brings books in english with every opportunity and thankfully i can even find books in english to buy here. I noticed that reading them illustrated storybooks is a great way to develop their language as every page is supported by visual clues.So even if want to introduce your children to english from a young age these kind of books will be a great choice.
I do hope that I am doing enough to ensure that their english skills will stay and develop. For anyone that would like to teach their children to think in english – It is important to introduce a second language to your children as early as possible especially if english is a second language for both parents.
Of course all the above activities are done in Romanian too. It is impossible not to when you want your children to know and speak their second language well and for us it’s important because they both go to school and nursery here. We read stories in Romanian too and we listen and watch nursery rhymes in Romanian too.
I am sure that there are other ways to ensure that kids learn a second language and if you do something I don’t please do get in touch with any advice you might have.
Is your family bilingual? Or do you teach your kids a second language? How do you make sure they grow up bilingual?