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Zdravka Brunkova
Reply with quote  #1 


I am Bulgarian and so is my husband. Bulgarian is the native language for both of us. But our undergraduate and graduate education has been in English. We lived in the USA for 8 years and our predominant communication language has become English. We live in Turkey now but may be not for very long. Our daughter is 1 year old and we have been speaking both English and Bulgarian to her. Until recently I was using a home/outside system to make it easier on her to distinguish the two languages. But unfortunately as the weather gets worse our outside time is reduced and so is her exposure to English. We have to teach her Bulgarian because her grandparents use this language but our chances of living in Bulgaria are very small. We both want to teach her to speak English, since (beside from the fact that we both like this language a lot for its expressive potential) this language is going to be very useful, and indeed essential to her. I was wondering how to distribute the language exposure now? Can anyone give some ideas or share their experience with me? I could easily talk to our daughter in Bulgarian for half of the day and English for the remaining half with English becoming our sole language of communication between me and my partner. But I was wondering whether this will not confuse the girl - i.e. I will be speaking in two languages...

I would appreciate your suggestions


Reply with quote  #2 
sorry this is so late coming.

You've probably worked this out by now but heres my advice.

Whats the Community langauge? Turkish?

I suggest you and your husband speak to each other in English and to baby in Bulgarian.

Its quite simple that way, since you both speak both languages you dont have to worry about one parent being left out and baby will be very used to English from hearing mom and dad speaking it. She will learn to understand English passively and become conversational in Bulgarian so that she can still communicate with her family. She'll pick up the community langauge easily enough if her mind is hardwired for multilingualism and you work with her a little when she starts school. Get a "my first dictionary" type book for the community language and English. You can read to her in Bulgarian about the words for English.

Point out the picture of the shoe in her book and say in Bulgarian "Whats that a picture of?" Hopefully she'll answer in Bulgarian and then you say "Thats right, its (Shoe in Bulgarian) but in English, they call it 'shoe' but at home its (shoe in Bulgarian)"

Do those sort of drills with her every evening and work your way through the book together, over and over again. When she needs English she'll have a great deal of passive vocabulary which she'll be able to activate with a little less effort.

Best of luck.
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