Thursday, 25 June 2009

RESOURCES: Changing the lingo

This is a tricky thing to manage, but often a necessary change for bilingual families.
Suppose you're raising your children with Japanese in an English-speaking country but then move to Japan. Logically, you'd now want to start using English with the children, but that's easier said than done, as talking a particular language with someone is a very hard habbit to break. The language you speak with someone gives that language a certain value, as well as forming part of the identity of that person and the relationship you have with them.
Sometimes it's the parents who want to switch languages.
Suppose (once again) you're raising your children with Japanese in an English-speaking country, but this time your children's school teacher tells you their English is not as strong as it should be. To introduce more English into their environment, you may wish to start talking in English with your partner, or even encourage grandparents to do so.
In our case, where the Twi is so weak (due to lack of time with their father and our late start, making it difficult to use Twi all the time), I have decided to start using Twi with Papa whenever possible (not too often, given my current Twi abilities!). I am hoping this will also improve my own Twi. It's challenging, but with the natural dominance of the Majority Language (English in our case), there's no harm in switching to a bit of Twi. Also, hearing their parents use Twi together will hopefully raise the value of the language for the children.
They already both have pitch-perfect Twi accents and sing happily along to Twi songs in the car, plus good passive knowledge, so the basis is there. My hope is that the next time we take them to Ghana (should be 2010), they will switch from passive to active knowledge in their play with local children :-) Pin It now!

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