And the fear of not being able to keep up with their language skills, and wake up one day and not understanding what they say!!!
My first son was born six years ago, at the time I had good intentions of raising him to be a bi-lingual child, speaking both English and Swedish fluently. I read loads of articles about raising bi-lingual children. Singing and reading for my son in Swedish at every opportunity… But with time it fizzled out, as I felt guilty speaking Swedish to my son, when my husband would not understand. It just felt wrong. So the Swedish my son was and is exposed to is mainly music and story books. And of course the times when we go to family in Sweden or have visits from Sweden.
When he was two and a half we moved from England to Portugal, and he was now about to be exposed to a third language, which neither my husband nor myself had mastered.
To leave him at nursery the first couple of months were very hard for me, although his teacher spoke English. But he looked so small and vulnerable among all his new Portuguese friends. In the end my husband had to take him to nursery in the morning, as my worry rubbed off on him, and he started to get a bit anxious in the mornings. And with the switch, he started to relax and so did I. He stayed at this nursery for a year, as I wanted him to be around someone who spoke English until he felt comfortable with his new language.
Today he speaks Portuguese fluently, if it wasn’t for his blond hair he could probably be taken for a Portuguese. He has already acted as a translator for us many times. It’s a shame you don’t pick up languages as quickly as an adult. He loves to teach us new words or correct our pronunciation.
Since moving here we have had a second boy, who has not been as exposed to Swedish as my first, as he already had two languages to digest. He is now two and is already speaking some Portuguese and English.
My eldest knows phrases in Swedish, but he is not able to hold a conversation in Swedish. I am teaching my youngest Swedish phrases too.But when I read Swedish stories for him, he just looks at me and grins… Wonder what goes on in his head?
Do you think it’s too late to start a Swedish day, when I only speak Swedish to them? I would love advice on this, as I would love for them to speak Swedish. But as I am finding Portuguese such a challenge, I worry that it would be too much for them?
Most bi-lingual children I have come across here, understand both languages, but will only speak one of them….Is this the norm?
As my son is heading off to first grade this year, I have started to worry about my own Portuguese skills. There will be home-work! But also with time he will bring friends home, what if I can’t understand what they are talking about…
These are little fears of mine, and what spurs me on to learn Portuguese, my children’s everyday language.
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