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Lottie
Reply with quote  #1 

Hello,

 

I would really appreciate some tips to start talking my mother tongue (Finnish) to my kids. Even though my exposure to Finnish had been very limited for many years I used to speak it to my daughter since birth. I would speak Finnish at home, but always English when my husband was around or if I was with anyone who didn't speak Finnish.

 

However, my husband was never supportive as he wanted her to learn English first. He used to be away a lot so it used to particularly annoy him that our daughter was saying words in Finnish and not English when he got home. I eventually stopped when she was about 20 months. It felt equally strange to switch back to English as it had originally felt to speak Finnish to her.

 

However, I now feel that I am making a huge mistake and would like to start talking in Finnish again. But my husband still isn't that supportive. He has recently started introducing some basic Urdu to the kids (he was born and raised in the UK but can speak fluent Urdu).

 

How would you recommend me to switch to talking in Finnish again? Of course, I would speak English to the children when my husband is around. Also we have a full-time nanny who helps me with the kids (I am a stay-at-home mum) and I communicate with her in English. It seems that in my family most people (apart from my dad who can't speak English) want to speak English to the kids to practice their own language skills. But I am sure they would switch back to Finnish if I requested them (it's my husband whose support has been harder to get).

 

Should I start gradually? Would it confuse them if I spoke a lot of English too?

 

Would it confuse the kids if both my husband and I would start introducing Urdu and Finnish respectively to them, if my husband also started to use Urdu more?

 

 Any advice would be appreciated

Annika
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi! My immediate reaction, as both a Finn and a huge fan of bilingualism, is to encourage you to go for it! I understand the home issue, but I also think it is important for a mother to be able to pass on her language if she so wishes. So first of all, I would suggest you to talk this over with your husband explaining why it is so important for you, so that the whole family is "on board" with the language strategy. I know from experience and from a study I did on French-Finnish bilingualism (which is also the case of our family) that the learning of Finnish is not always considered as important and yet, for your children it is as it is their cultural heritage. Take it from someone who has always regretted her mother not having spoken her other language, swedish, to her...In your case it is also the vehicle for them to communicate with their grand-father. Like your husband, many parents feel that it is better to learn one language first, but all the research shows that the brain is more than capable of handling the introduction of two or more languages at the same time. With small children, this can be done by each parent speaking their own language, preferably all the time, to them but if your children are older you might discuss the strategy with them.  

I would love to write more, but must run. If you'd like to email me, in Finnish or English, whichever you feel like,  I'd love to hear how things are going and perhaps give ideas about some tools etc. you can use in addition to speaking to them to boost your children's Finnish.

all the best / terveisin,

Annika

annika.jcicosmo@gmail.com
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