I might have started with this post at the beginning.
- Why do we want E. to be bilingual?
First of all, nowadays one language is not enough in our globalised world. If you want to study or work abroad, it is a must to have the English language. Second, our native language is Hungarian, which is far from a world language. A language, which can be used nowhere else in the world but in Hungary. Life in Hungary is not what everybody dreams of. One or two more languages give the opportunity for E. to choose where to live. Third, having another language in our life opens the mind to the other culture; one becomes more empathic, understanding and approachable. When making friends or new connections, language obstacles are non-existent. Last but not least, as far as I have experienced it, language learning is fun, a kind of intellectual entertainment.
I could go on listing more and more reasons why we want our little one to speak both Hungarian and English on the same (near) native level. And this leads us to the next point:
- Main aim
Perhaps it’s a little far-fetched but a sophisticated, near-native level is the main target concerning E.’s level of English by the time she’s 18-20 years old. In the short-term, until she’s at home with me up to the age of 3 – 3,5, I’ll be the main English input with the assistance of some helpers. Whenever we are the two of us we’ll speak English (which means now I speak and she babbles). In the long-term, I’m not so sure: English nursery, English speaking school according to the Hungarian national curriculum, moving abroad… these are all question marks. But now I’m trying to concentrate on the short-term aims (loads of English input of different kinds: spoken interactions, songs, rhymes, books, videos, native playmates, Helen Doron Early English… whatever).
Our strategy is simple. I speak English to E. whenever we are alone and there is no Hungarian relatives or companion around. D. speaks Hungarian to her daughter, but there are some activities which they do together in English (such as using the computer or later watching TV etc.). Later on, when I’ll spend less time with E. we will introduce ‘Language by Time’ strategy. It means there are given time periods when only English will be used (e.g.: Saturday mornings, every day after nursery/school from 4-6, craft activities etc.) Another possibility is ‘Language by Situation’ i.e. every breakfast, homework doing, or bathing is in English. We can also introduce the ‘Language by Location’ strategy. In this case we would use English at the kitchen or bathroom, at a special playhouse, or at a playmate. At the Helen Doron Early English school. I haven’t decided which suits us more (maybe a combination), but we’ll try it when the time comes and I’ll let you know about the advantages and disadvantages.
And now only one more point is missing: HOW we are doing it. So the rest of the posts will be about our daily life using English (and Hungarian).