REFLECTIONS AT 14 YEARS OLD - TRILINGUALISM
I might have mentioned that as Marc has got older, there has been little to comment on regards his language compared to the continuous and very noticeable changes when he was younger.
As children become teenagers, you need to continue the journey and not slacken off and become lazy.
I'll talk about factors affecting teenagers here. Taking the rough with the smooth!
This is KEY STRATEGY 5 in my book,
THE 5 KEY STRATEGIES OF SUCCESSFUL BILINGUAL FAMILIES.
Language is something that continues to develop constantly and as a parent you can help accompany your son or daughter as their language becomes richer and more complex.
REFLECTIONS on TRILINGUALISM IN CATALONIA
Marc often says that English is his strongest language despite being born and brought up in Catalonia.
He has said that he wasn't comfortable speaking Spanish, which would make policy makers in Madrid happy. This is because he had little contact with Spanish speakers. The school had 3 subjects in Spanish, but his friends were Catalan speakers. His mother speaks to him in Catalan and the TV and social media watches in predominantly in English. However, since we changed him to a local school this year, most of his classmates are Spanish speakers, and he's noticed an improvement.
It shows that it's not easy to be a balanced bilingual or trilingual and you have to make an active effort to provide the exposure and opportunites to make it happen.
Let's look at how it's possible that he considers English his strongest language. It's all based on input/exposure (key strategy 3) and output/ practise (key strategy 4).
Although teenagers want to spend less time with you, it's still possible to be part of their lives if you don't push yourself on them... all the time.
From me every day, at least a couple of hours either speaking about life or school, or watching the TV or YouTube video together.
YouTube videos. They may seem like a waste of time, but, I've found non-native teenagers with incredible levels of English that has come from hours of watching age appropriate (and some not I imagine) videos.
Marc also play a lot of videogames, which I don't like personally. So, I ask him to explain them to me in detail. A chat App called DISCORD is the one Gamers use, and this provides access to other gamers all over the world, where they can chat in the target language. Marc keeps in touch with a cousin and friend in England through this.
Marc loves certain series that are both age and non-age appropriate such as Family Guy... We watch some of these together and comment on them. We've also recently started watching The Office and Extras by Ricky Gervais. The secret is finding things you can enjoy together.
ACTIVITIES THAT PROMOTE SPEAKING
This will depend on each child. In our case, we have very long discussions when we are either going on long walks or drives in the car. You need to find your "speaking vehicle".
Holidays and Family and Schools abroad
Marc spent 6 months at a boarding school till March 2020, when Covid broke out. Since then we've onbly spent a weekend in the UK. This is supplemented to Whatsapp calls to the UK.
I like to speak about a Bilingual Native Level, which is different from a monolingual. When you "live" in two languages, there will always be some crossover. While filming some YouTube videos for a 4x4 car channel recently, when I watched them back I noticed a couple of Spanish words and fillers creeping in, possbily because I learned some of the technical words in Spanish first.
The odd 'innacuracy' is perfectly alright when weighed up with the advantages of speaking 2 languages to a native bilingual level. One will always be stronger, but sometimes you will find balanced bilinguals.
In Marc's case, I notice some less 'native' phrases in his English, like a latin word instead of a more germanic origin one, enter instead of go in. However, the breadth and depth of native idiomas and expressions plus imitation of American, Australian and different English accents means that you can't compare him to any non-native speaker. He's indistinguishable from a south of English teenager of his age.
There are new challenges on life's journey every day. It's up to us to believe we can do it, and to find creative solutions to overcome those bumps on the road; the rough with the smooth.
What's you experience?