[heading style="1"]Mommy Masters welcomes Stephen Greene, a dad who brings us his perspective on raising a bilingual family. [/heading]
What’s your mother tongue? Mine’s English, and it is probably called ‘mother tongue’ at least in part because traditionally the main care giver would have been your mother or another woman, and you would have received most of your initial language development on the knee of your mother.
But what happens when your father speaks a different language? Do you have a father tongue? It sounds very strange to talk about a father tongue, but that is exactly the situation I, and millions of other fathers, face.
Let me explain.
I was born in the UK but I am married to a Brazilian and we live in Curitiba in the south of Brazil. Obviously, my son’s mother tongue is going to be Portuguese; it is the language of his mother, his extended family here in Brazil and the main language he hears in the community.
I understand Portuguese and I can function pretty well speaking it. But English is still my first language and I would like my son to grow up speaking both languages.
We have been on this bilingual path for a little over two years now so here are some of the things I have learned about how to teach a father tongue.
Our son’s first word was an English one which gave me a thrill because it showed I was doing something right. At the moment I am keeping a record of the words he uses and it is about 40% Portuguese, 40% English and 20% his own inventions. I am doing this in order to keep a record for him and us in future years.
I am not doing it as some sort of competition to see which language is winning at any point in time. I am normally a competitive person, but this is a long term project and the only winner can be my son when he is fluent in both languages.
Communication and Teamwork are Vital
Something that I have discovered over the last two years is that I can’t do this alone. I need my wife to understand that we need to make space for English. I have had to talk my in-laws about the reasons for me speaking English to my son in front of them and persuade them to accept our plans. We have had to talk to his nursery school to let them know that when he says ‘blue car’ he meant ‘carro azul’.
It hasn’t happened to us yet, but I know it will one day. There will come a time when our son doesn’t want to speak English because he is embarrassed in front of his friends, or because it doesn’t seem to be worth the hassle or just as a way of rebelling me against me. I hope I am going to be able to handle this situation with patience and understanding. Allow for communication with my son to see if there is some area for compromise, but ultimately I am going to have to keep on speaking English and gently encouraging my son to do the same as well.
Because he’s worth it
It has been a lot of hard work and also cost quite a bit of money so far, and this work and expense are only going to increase over time. I believe it is worth every second and every penny. There are health, educational, economic and cultural benefits to being bilingual. It also means he’ll be able to understand and groan at my terrible jokes. All of this effort now will pay off for the rest if our son’s life.
And that, after all, is all any parent, mother or father, wants to do for their children.
About Stephen Greene
Stephen is an English teacher, teacher trainer and materials developer in Curitiba, Brazil. He blogs about his experiences if living in Brazil and bringing up a bilingual family at Head of the Heard. When he’s not hoping against hope that England can win the World Cup in Brazil he can be found on Twitter @HoftheH and is a recent convert to Google +
|[box title="Dads, Want to be Featured Next?" color="#252180"]If you are a dad interested in sharing your thoughts on mastering fatherhood and all things parenting, click here. We want to hear your perspective! [/box]|
The Mommy Master
Latest posts by The Mommy Master (see all)
- Review of Lil Marc Potty Training Urinal - December 17, 2014
- Eight Tips to Prevent Touchscreens From Melting Your Child’s Brain this Holiday Break - December 14, 2014
- Patience and Pinot - December 11, 2014
- December 2014 Mommy Master - December 9, 2014
Dear Moms (and Dads),
Welcome to Mommy Masters®, the go-to trusted source for all things parenting. By sharing our experiences, questions, triumphs and hardships, Together we can Master Motherhood™! Mommy Masters® will inspire you with creative parenting tips, tricks and tools, and help you stay sane in this crazy world of motherhood! I created Mommy Masters® just for you and look forward to going through the amazing journey of motherhood together!
Ellie, The Mommy Master®
Ellie is the official Mommy Master for Magic 94.9
Mommy Masters is a Proud Contributor
- Successful Failure
When it comes to motherhood, it is essential to be a successful failure. Why would any mom strive to fail, you may ask? Well, no one has the perfect day every...
- February 2014 Parenting Tip: This Will Knock Your Socks Off
If you are a Mommy Masters fan, you know that I struggle with singletons! What is a singleton you ask? A lonely sock that cannot find his matching mate. It f...
- Father’s Day: Past, ‘Present’ & Future
Father's Day is the kind of holiday that allows for gifts that are fun, silly, heartwarming and of course, homemade. Any father will tell you that you don't ne...
- Successful Failure