topics
tools
Expatica countries
editor's choice

Learning with the International Primary Curriculum

Remote training for expatriates

Should our kids go native too?

Pre-school activities in Belgium

How expats are learning the local lingo

Index Last Var.(%)
BEL 20 3083.51 0.32
DAX 9605.08 0.17
IBEX 30 10058.5 -1.04
CAC 40 4387.61 -0.20
FTSE 100 6806.86 -0.05
AEX 397.5 -0.20
DJIA 16272.65 0.46
Nasdaq 4318.933 0.63
FTSE MIB 20298.33 -0.11
TSX Composite 14214.35 0.18
ASX 5415.4 -0.10
Hang seng 22836.96 0.04
Straits Times 3110.78 0.45
ISEQ 20 836.3 0.23
EUR / USD 1.37976 0.67
EUR / GBP 0.82571 0.59
USD / GBP 0.598544 -0.10
Gold 1329.6 -0.13
Oil 108.9 -0.76
Silver 21.28 0.08
You are here: Home Life in Blogs & photos Bilingual kids and finding my voice
Enlarge font Decrease font Text size


23/10/2006Bilingual kids and finding my voice

Bilingual kids and finding my voice Bringing up your children in another country often forces you to deal with the culture, or the language, whether you like it or not. Natasha Gunn faces the music.

Bringing up your children in another country often forces you to deal with the culture, or the language, whether you like it or not.

Like a lot of expats, especially English-speaking expats living in the Netherlands, I had avoided coming to grips with the Dutch language for various reasons, one of them being that the Dutch speak good English, the other simply that I find the language difficult.

I speak French as a second language, but rather than helping me assimilate Dutch this purely increases the number of words in my cranial database that I instinctively access before reaching the appropriate word in Dutch.

Which supports the theory of a friend of mine; that after assimilating a second language, the first sign that you are getting to grips with a third is when it starts to override the second language word by word.

Sentences which show this kind of linguistic interference could sound like my response to a French-speaking mother trying to arrange a play-date with my children. 'Je suis d'accord maar il faut que je vraag à mes enfants'.

My daughters are bilingual. They were born in Holland, and if anything their Dutch is stronger than their English.

Therefore, wherever we move to, I have to consider that Dutch is part of them. Which means, in Belgium for instance, sending them to a Dutch-speaking school rather than a French-speaking school.

And this means continuing to help them with homework in the Dutch language, which means that I need to continue to brush up my Dutch language skills.

My seven-year old, embarrassed by my somewhat basic Dutch, which I speak with what she considers to be a 'terrible English accent', hushes me with 'stil mummy!' when we approach the entrance to her classroom.

When we meet people who open up the conversation in Dutch she explains, even after they have been chatting away to me for some time, while I tip my head and smile and nod at the right places: "We speak both English and Dutch (indicating her sister and not me in this case). My mother's Dutch is bad."

And then there is my Dutch partner, who denies saying this, but it remains imprinted on my memory.

"You have no talent for the Dutch language; you would be better off investing the same amount of time and energy in taking opera lessons."

Perhaps this isn't as rude as it appears and he is suggesting that I have a beautiful voice which I really ought to develop further.

So I've started singing round the house more freely. But now it's my six-year old who clamps down on me.

"Stil mummy!"

 

Natasha Gunn / Expatica




0 reactions to this article

0 reactions to this article

 
 
 
 
 
Inside Expatica
Looking for work in Belgium

Looking for work in Belgium

This handy guide from Expertise in Labour Mobility includes how to write a CV, application procedure, interview dos and don'ts, Belgian management culture.

Practical, easy-to-use, free and... in English

Practical, easy-to-use, free and... in English

Belgium’s first alternative directory assistance services - available through the shortcode 14-14 - can now be accessed on the internet.

Finding a rental home in Belgium

Finding a rental home in Belgium

Moving to Belgium presents a host of challenges to expats, not least of all finding the right home.

Learning to cope with life abroad

Learning to cope with life abroad

The psychological effects of global mobility can be physically painful.