Author Topic: Second language acquisition (children over 6)  (Read 2292 times)

Offline BlueDanube

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Second language acquisition (children over 6)
« on: March 12, 2014, 02:10:27 PM »
Hi

I am Mum who needs some advice - any suggestion or comment would be very much appreciated.

I have become increasingly overwhelmed with guilt for not teaching my children, now aged 6 and 7 1/2, my native language (Romanian). I would like to rectify this situation if I can but I need some help. This is why I am writing on this forum.

My husband is English and at home we speak only English. My children do not mix with any Romanian-speaking people other than myself hence they have had a very limited exposure to the Romanian language.

It doesn't help that I work nearly full-time and the children have very busy weekly schedules - they both do 4-5 after-school activities, like swimming, ice-skating, football etc. This lifestyle means that, sadly, as a family we spend very little time together.

As I left it so late to teach my children Romanian, I find it difficult to know what approach to take to teach my children my native language. Does anybody have any suggestions how to do it? Is there any known method for teaching children a second-language when one of the parents is bilingual? Is there a method proven to work well?

Now regarding some practical aspects of teaching - nouns are perhaps the easiest to teach as I can just show the children the object described by the word. My panic kicks in when I have to introduce anything to do with verbs and their conjugation. Same goes for structures (sentences). Teaching them individual words seems difficult enough (for me, not for them I must add ) but how about structures? To expect the children to understand, and repeat, a whole sentence, seems like a massive ask. I know that my perception of how difficult the language acquisition is for my kids might be more of a hurdle than the actual learning process. Not being a linguist and not being aware of what are the limits of knowledge-absorption in children when it comes to foreign languages seems to severely impair my ability to even talk to, let alone teach, my children my first language. I am reluctant/even scared to speak the language if I feel that I can't communicate with my children that way.

As my children are fast approaching the age where it is thought the nervous centres of learning move in the brain making the foreign-language learning more difficult I wonder : do my kids have to be taught Romanian now as any other foreign language or is there a different approach I can take? For instance, would it be better if I talked only in Romanian with them? In the latter case there would be massive challenges - discipling them, for instance, would be an impossible task at first if the children do not understand a word I'm saying!

Well, this is the situation I am in and I am lost to know what to do, hence my post on this forum. I really hope that I could find some advice here that would help me to achieve what I failed to do at the right time. Nevertheless, even writing here feels like a little step forward for me and I am very keen to repair what i got wrong in the first place.

Thanks for reading. Any thoughts, comments etc would be very helpful to me and I would appreciate them.

Offline Corybobory

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Re: Second language acquisition (children over 6)
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2014, 02:09:59 AM »
Six and seven are totally fine to learn a language and become native-like in it, it just depends on the level of exposure to it.

I'd begin using simple whole phrases with your children.  Things like "get in the car", "time for bed", "I love you".  You can tell them what the phrases mean, or pair it with the English a few times, and they will remember by context. Think of it like teachable moments, and tell them things you are talking about "oh, in Romanian we call it this". You could make games out of it too - see if they recall certain words, or ask them to do something in Romanian and see who does it first. Just start out slow, keep it fun, and consistent (and be very encouraging!). Can they use what they learned to talk on the phone to their grandparents?

Another good thing would be to introduce some Romanian media into the home - cartoons, music, books - read together before bed and read them stories. It'd be nice to just hear your voice, and they'll pick up on things before you know it!
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Offline MalFet

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Re: Second language acquisition (children over 6)
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2014, 02:31:22 AM »
The only thing that matters is exposure. If you're preoccupied with verbs and conjugations and structures, the whole endeavor will become painfully fraught and thus far less likely to succeed. Just talk to your kids in Romanian as much as you possibly can and they'll figure it out. Kids are smart.

Noroc!

Offline lx

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Re: Second language acquisition (children over 6)
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2014, 09:13:12 AM »
Don't miss out on the opportunity to expand your children's horizons by giving them the gift of being bilingual while it's still incredibly easy for them to pick it up. I wish you the best in your efforts and hope you stick this out and live to see how they will thank you for taking this step one day in the future.

Offline BlueDanube

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Re: Second language acquisition (children over 6)
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2014, 01:34:20 AM »
Thank you all - your comments gave me the advice that I needed and the confidence that I was lacking. I started talking to my boys at the weekend. It is Wed today and they already recognise a few words and are able remember unaided some of them. Considering that during the week my time with the children is very limited, the progress they made is surprisingly good. I am grateful to you all. Each single comment made a difference. Thanks again.