Discussions between spouses once you have kids become injected wth things you never thought you would talk about in your day-to-day. Not that we don’t chat about the things we used to before! It’s just that now, our conversations include things like “did you read the latest anti-vaccination article going viral on Facebook?” or “The Baby Centre email I got today talked about tantrums – what good timing, hey?” In the last few months, we’ve revisited the topic of immersion programs and whether or not that’s a road we want to go down when it comes time to enroll Theodora in school.
Initially, each of us were split on the subject. I was all for it, coming from the perspective that the younger you can expose a child to other languages the better. They are sponges at these young ages, after all. Alex, on the other hand, was a little more hesitant, more so from a practicality point of view – what language would we choose, and would she realistically use it?
I grew up in a bilingual household with Greek being my first language. As a result of this, my fluency today is all thanks to those early years of listening, learning and speaking the language, and my French studies came to me quite easily and enjoyably in my school years. My French now is nowhere near being able to strike up a conversation, but I could probably get by. And this isn’t to say that my current level of Greek couldn’t use any improvement; it definitely could. But it has really cemented for me how important it is to start as early as possible if I want our child to pick up on a second language. Since I’m with Theodora 95% of each day, I’ve been speaking to her in Greek pretty much from day one in hopes of hearing her little voice speak a word or two in the near future.
We have decided to go with it and have chosen French immersion as our program of choice (we’re ahead of the game, I know, but her school days will be here before we know it, I’m sure – sob, sob!). Now, maybe part way through, she’ll hate it and ask to participate in the regular stream, at which point we will of course discuss and proceed accordingly. Not everyone is a languages person, and we would hate to place that kind of pressure on her. On the other hand, maybe that will be her normal and she’ll embrace it like a champ! I am also of the firm belief that the more languages you know or are exposed to, the easier they come.
Time will tell, but I’m curious – have any of you with kids had similar discussions? If you have enrolled your kids in an immersion program, has it been valuable? Have you had to re-learn the language yourself in order to help with assignments?! Clearly we have a bit more homework to do…no pun intended ;)