Thursday 27 May 2010

Updated Family Language Diagram

I have updated the family language diagram again. BK2 is now also speaking German to BK1 when she feels in the mood. It looks like the language of play for them is English, though.


  1. Have you noticed whether there is one language that is dominant overall, or is it always dependent on context or who else is around?

  2. Good question.

    I think their default is either English (when they are playing) or Arabic (when they discuss seriously).

    They will sometimes use German when they just spoke with me before. And the Arabic has a lot of French words in it, of course.

  3. I find it really interesting that they switch between English and Arabic depending on what they are doing! Do you have any idea why they might do this?

    For mine, the default is definitely English, though sometimes they amaze me and do speak German to each other. This only started since the little one has been able to come up with sentences entirely in German every now and again, but it gives me hope :)

  4. Not sure, really.

    I guess BK1 started to really master English when she started playing with her English friends and of course when pre-school started. For her, playing must be an English-speaking thing and she just carries that over to BK2.

  5. Hi, I've only just come across your blog and I was wondering how you (parents) manage two languages each with the kids. I was raised bilingual Italian-French, husband was raised bilingual Spanish-English. As we live in the UK, he's happy to speak Spanish to our little one, while I'm striving to find a balance- opol just doesn't come natural to me (it's been hard enough to stop speaking Spanglish with hubby!), and I'm keen give my baby the gift of both Italian and French. At first 0-6 months I would split the day in two: French AM, Italian PM. Since then, to avoid my brain melting, I've been using French only for songs, rhymes and reading time. Still, it's all very new for us, I'd love to find out what other families do! (please note, we live in a very monolingual part of the country with no family nearby, and with the exception of holidays we are the only source of heritage languages exposure for our little girl).

  6. Hi Elena,
    Thanks for your comment. What an interesting langauage setting you have! I am not sure there is a perfect way to transmit one's languages when one is bilingual themselves. I for one am bilingual arabic-french, and have a tendency to mix both languages in one sentence. I basically try to speak as much arabic as possible with the girls, as I am the only arabic source. This is also the language of my heart, that of my country of origin. On the other hand, I mostly read to the children in French. Hubby and I also speak french between us so this is an additional French input to the girls.
    I would say, do what instincts say, what seems natural to you, cause this is the only sustainable way in the long run. Good luck!


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