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Reply with quote  #1 

My husband and his family speak both Armenian and English; I only speak English.  They mostly speak English but my husband almost only speaks Armenian with his mother when it's just the two of them in a conversation (in other words they are extremely fluent). I'd like for our daughter (due next month) to learn the language but I'm wondering if just Daddy speaking to her part of the time in Armenian and weekly visits to Grandma's will be enough.  I'm also wondering how much my husband will need to speak to her in Armenian at home to be effective; 100% of the time, 50%, 25%?

Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Heather,

You don't say anything about where you live, but I assume it's not in Armenia, since you only have your husband and your mother-in-law speaking Armenian around you. Am I right? If so, then your husband will have to speak to your daughter only in Armenian, when possible. You can speak English as a family, but you might have to accept, that they have their own conversations around you in a language you dont understand. I'm Danish but my husband doesn't speak Danish - but I insisted on speaking only Danish to them when they were young (we live in Spain). Often I had to translate - basically saying everything twice - when my husband was around. It's not easy but it works! Even better if you can get relatives in Armenia to provide you (well, your husband) with childrens books, dvd's, music etc. to enjoy with her. She'll quickly figure out that Daddy speaks English too, but being able to spend extra time with him reading, singing etc. and be able to communicate with Granma should be a good motivation for her to be fluent in Armenian too. Good luck!
Reply with quote  #3 
Heather, it is noble that you would like your daughter to also "learn the language".  I don't think there is any magic percentage that can be put on language learning. Think of your own linguistic competence: the constant linguistic support, the linguistic input your received from your family, friends, neighbors, schools, bank tellers, televisions, etc. So, if you are in a place where there isn't such constant support or even endorsement for a way of communicating or expressing yourself...  this makes things more difficult.  If something isn't found to be useful, it is often discarded by people, children, too, do this.  Perhaps if you also join your daughter on the journey of learning Armenian, this will be beneficial and that way you could help to partake in her bilingual upbringing. This may also help to validate the language for her, because it may show her that you value it, too.  In other words, although you don't speak Armenian, your treatment of the language and culture will affect your child and her desire to learn it and to be a part of it. If you embrace these things, she will be all the more willing to embrace them, too.  I'm sorry I don't have a particular book to recommend, but if you go to your nearest book store, there are many books available which deal specifically with providing insight on how to raise bilingual children, and/or how to establish and navigate a bilingual family and home.  
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