Weekly-daily schedule

Our daily schedule concerning English has developed slowly. E. is 11 months old and for a month now we’ve had a more or less fixed weekly agenda. Here it is:

60% is in Hungarian and 40% is in English – I wish we could keep this balance

We’ve just started Helen Doron English (in a later post I’ll write about our experience), but it definitely increases the time spent on English and we are not at home using the minor language at last. Tuesdays and Thursdays are clearly dedicated to English. Mondays and Wednesdays are the Hungarian days. Still, on these days we have 2 or 3 hours of English input. (What is not in the chart is the 20-30 minutes when D. takes the dog out for a walk in the evening. E. and I change into English and lay the table, put away the toys or watch some videos or books in English while they’re away.)

Fridays are changeable, but in general half of the day goes in Hungarian, the other half in English. Before our Hungarian playmate comes to visit us, we go out for a walk together or to the market and then we use Hungarian as English would be unnatural.

My only problem is the weekends. As the whole family is together, it’s really difficult to find time and natural situations when we can use English. At weekends 1 hour of English per day is “forced” into our programme (singing, video watching, reading out) but not real communicative interactions. I’ll try to find out something for the weekends. If you have any suggestions, just feel free to share it with me.

In the table above you can’t see food time (which is in the given language according to which day it is) and daily sleeping time, however the latter takes away 2-3 hours per day.

At the beginning of January we took up baby swimming on Saturday mornings. I found a course at Budapest Moms (you can find the group’s facebook page here), which was held in two languages. The tutor is Hungarian and in the water one of the moms do the interpreting. As the swimming pool echoes a lot it is hard to hear the Hungarian words, not to mention the English ones, however, we met a lot of non-Hungarian families (Russians, French, Dutch, Canadians etc). As for the English language, it doesn’t make a big difference whether we take part in this swimming course or another, but the trainer is really professional and the pool is clean, the water is warm. So all in all we, and most important of all, E. enjoy it. It’s a good family programme for the weekend. The course is finished in a week, now we are thinking of continuing it, but not sure. Good weather has arrived, we might want to spend time outside instead.

I’m a little worried about being able to keep this schedule. One thing is permanent in a baby’s life that nothing is permanent. As I’m planning to work part-time soon, probably in a month or two our agenda needs to be revised.

Finding more inspiration – MEC

When E. became 6 months old, I was on the net all the time when she was sleeping to find more inspiration on raising a child bilingual here in Hungary. I wanted to find other moms who were in the same shoes as me. And I found one on facebook: M. organised  the so-called Mums’ English Club (MEC) in her district in Budapest. It was totally free of charge. M. raises her daughter bilingual, too. MEC is and hour/hour and a half get-together where moms and their babies come together. Moms chat while the kids are playing. Baby rhymes and songs in English could be included but it’s not a must. The main point of the club is to create an English environment for the children, where they can hear that English is another, natural way of communicating with one another.

I was over the moon to find M. who is working on the same, creating as many opportunities for her daughter to be in an English-speaking environment. We corresponded a lot, she supported me, and helped me in numerous ways:

  1. M. inspired me to organise a MEC in my district
  2. She introduced me to MAKATON sign language as a possible link between Hungarian and English (I’ll write about it in details in another post)
  3. M. recommended many books for babies – self-made, translated, or originals (see a later post)
  4. She encouraged me not to give up, or shilly-shally when facing difficulties or disappointment

Thanks you, M.

You can find this group of Hungarian and non-Hungarian moms here on facebook. And this community is growing, you can find some groups in the country-side, too. It might happen that one day it’ll be a Hungary-wide project.

After all, I made a poster and advertised our MEC in the library nearby, and on the net.

Soon the first MEC took place 22 January 2012. It was an hour long and only one mom and her 11-month-old baby came. Still, it was such a victory. Something I managed to make up in order to get closer to my aim.


Later on, within a month, 2 other moms contacted me and by the end of February we were four moms and four kids chatting and playing and having fun in English. Now we meet on a weekly basis, if holidays, sickness do not chime in. If the above ad has drawn your attention and you feel like joining us, do not hesitate to contact me.

Unfortunately, two of the moms are going to take their children to nursery as they’re going back to work, so I need to put out some more posters in the area again to find new moms, new playmates.