Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

“My son stopped talking English to me when he was 6”

Yesterday in the bus, a lady noticed that Amy was talking to me in English (well, complaining to me that she wanted a window seat, she didn’t want to sit opposite me, she wanted to sit next to me, but on a window seat, and not one at the front of the bus but one that was high enough for her to look out—but in English), and commented on that to me (in English).

She said her son used to speak English to her but stopped when he turned 6 and went to school. Very encouraging for me :)

But I said that I had kept speaking English to my father when I went to school (though I realised afterwards that since I went to an English-speaking school, that doesn’t really count… but my two oldest sisters also kept speaking English to my father even after starting school) but that my smallest sister had also stopped speaking (much) English when she was young, so I knew both situations.

She also said that he was later the best in his English class, so it wasn’t wasted, and that now that he lives in New Zealand he thanks her every day for having spoken English to him.

Which is all pretty much what I think, too; I figured early on that whether or not Amy would speak English back to me, or whether she spoke English initially but stopped at some point (I had read before that starting school is a typical point—partly because of the suddenly-increased vocabulary in the school language and the increased number of things to talk about where the child might be frustrated by wanting to share their experiences but lacking the vocabulary in the second language, so switches to the first language to be able to talk about them more quickly and/or more fluently), any English I spoke to her would not be wasted, and that even receptive bilingualism has a value.

Still, it’s always nice to hear approving comments from other bilingual (or even would-be bilingual) parents.

And we shall see what happens when Amy starts school. (Pre-school this year, “proper” school next year.)

Tags: amy, bilingualism, language
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