Q&A: Should we move our bilingual 8-year-old out of the immersion class?

by | Dec 31, 2015 | Challenges, Coaches, Q&A When a bilingual / multilingual child goes to school, Rita R | 0 comments

Question

Hi,

I was reading your article about bilingualism. I hope you could help me. I’m Filipino and I have an 8-year-old daughter. We talk to her in our language (Tagalog) and of course in English. I would say she has had trouble before with her speech. Even now she’s having trouble finding the right word to express herself or explain something.

She’s in grade 2 now, and she’s in French immersion class since kindergarten. At a parent–teacher meeting they told me that when they talk to her in French it seems that she doesn’t get it and they need to repeat in English. They said many times they give instructions or talk to her in French (sometimes in English) but she didn’t understand. 🙁 I felt so bad and upset because of that. They told me it’s better maybe to transfer her for now to an English class to excel more. We, ourselves do not speak French or know French.

What should we do. what is the best move to do for daughter. She reads, she writes, she loves music/singing, art. Should we move her to English class for now to concentrate more and excel more? Please let me know what you think.

Thank you,
Mylanie

Answer

Hi Mylanie,

Thank you for your question. I can understand that it is worrying for you when the teacher recommends a move away from the French immersion class. I can give you some pointers, but only you and your husband can make the final decision on what is best for your daughter. I hope the following questions will help you make that decision.

How does your daughter feel about the situation? Is she reluctant to go to French immersion class? Does she find the classes difficult? Has she made friends? Is she able to keep up with the homework? Sometimes teachers recommend something that would actually make their own lives easier, but may not be in the child’s best interest. I am not saying this is the case for your daughter, but if she enjoys the French immersion school and has friends there, you need to consider whether moving her to an English school would be beneficial for her.

On the other hand, you say that you and your husband do not know French – what are your plans for when she might need your help with homework, especially in the future when the tasks will increase in difficulty as she gets older?

You mention that she also has trouble finding the right word and expressing herself in Tagalog (and English, I presume). How prevalent is this and does it concern her when she speaks? Do you find there to be a significant difference between her and other children of the same age? If you are worried about her general speech development, then I recommend that you seek advice from a speech and language therapist who has experience in dealing with bilingual children. This way you will either be able to stop worrying or take the appropriate steps to help your daughter.

As you see, the question is not only about whether she will grow up to speak French by attending an immersion school, but her general well-being, so you need to take all the above into consideration when choosing the right school for her. She certainly sounds like a happy 8-year-old – loves reading, writing and music – and don’t forget to ask her opinion before you make the final decision!

I hope my answer has helped to clarify the situation a bit and do let me know what you decide!

Kind regards,
Rita

 

 

 

 

Rita Rosenback

Rita Rosenback

Rita is an author, Family Language Coach, blogger and speaker, who was born into a bilingual family on the Swedish-speaking west coast of Finland. After studying languages in Finland and Germany she worked as a university teacher, translator, interpreter and manager of multinational teams. Rita is now a full-time writer and coach and has been living in the U.K. since 1998. Rita is the mother of two grown-up multilingual daughters, who are the inspiration for her book: “Bringing up a Bilingual Child”, an easy-to-read guide for parents, where she navigates the reader across the “Seven Cs of Multilingual Parenting: Communication, Confidence, Commitment, Consistency, Creativity, Culture and Celebration”. Currently English and Swedish are Rita’s main languages, but she instantly switches to Finnish or German or to her Finland-Swedish dialect when the opportunity presents itself (and when push comes to shove, she can communicate in a very basic Punjabi). Rita is the creator and driving force of this website, and she gives talks and holds workshops for parents and teachers on the topic of bilingual children. She also coaches families on how to make the most of their languages and raise their children to become confident speakers of the chosen languages.

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