May 11, 2008

Mom, The First Teacher

As a mom of 3 from a nation that English is not our mother-tongue, I've a dream to bring the kids up in an atmosphere where English is introduced from their early childhood life.

With the 1st and 2nd it's a little bit difficult on trying because I didn't start to speak English with them from the beginning of their life. They don't speak English voluntary in family. My husband and I often used many tricks to motivate them in speaking English.

With the 3rd is a little bit different although at the end he didn't speak English to us voluntary too. He he..
He goes to a Montessori school since aged 3 (to fulfill my desire in fact..) that has totally different method of teaching than the usual national curicullum in public school, where his 2 older sibling went. At that school he has an English speaking environment from the first day. Now almost 5 on next July, I see and feel he has a better improvement in speaking English than the 2. His teacher said he's very active in speaking at class with his friends and the teacher. He likes to describe funny things and what he did with his 2 older siblings at home to them.

I always try to support and encourage him by making conversation in our way back home from school. The topics could be anything, from what we saw at the street or just telling him what I had done today or asked him if there was special matter at his school. Sometimes (when he forgot I'm his mom) he would answer in English, but most of the times always in Indonesian. First I feel a little bit confused why he won't speak English a lot with me..since I knew from his teacher he always did to everybody at school (I even did a spy on him to fulfill my motherhood curiosity if it was true or not, ha ha ha...).

Once I asked him why he wouldn't speak in English with me or his father (because when we speak in long sentences and I often did in purpose, ha ha .. then he could answer or make good comment of it, but in Indonesian! It means he clearly understand what we're talking)
You know what he said…
“Ma, it’s surely different! English is used at school, with you Indonesian.” Hah?!
What should I say? He has already known English was not our mother tongue.
Kids are really smart, aren’t they?

So far.. I quite satisfied with his progress at school as long as I’ve got good report on him from his teacher. ..
or as long as I could heard he speaks to himself in English while he plays Lasy or Lego blocks at home.
Sometimes when my 3 kids play together and the 2 big kids busy talking to each other, didn’t consider him then he would talk loudly in English to get their attention back. He did it! Usually both of his siblings would get silence a moment, smile and said, “ Listen, listen…he speaks English”. Then they play again together. Hahaha…

I’m not expert in English and I do ever worry -as many teachers do- that the “student” (my boy) will complain about my pronunciation or grammatical ‘errata’ I made. But he won’t ! He has very high tolerance even if I makes dozen mistakes or has to open my Alfa Link dictionary a hundred times. He simply doesn’t care. He still thinks his mom is the best, ha ha…Of course, I should confident as a mom since I’m his first teacher he’s got.

I just want to share with you, all the mom of 1–5 years old kids -since English is not our mother tongue-, never feel shy to speak English with your little ones. Let’s open the manual books and feel ‘free’ to start teaching English to them. This is the right moment while they’re still in early childhood and while you’re still in ‘love’ with learning process too..
Enjoy learning, enjoy teaching and good luck !


mumsgather said...

I'm the opposite. My kids only speak English at home with me. I'm ashamed of the fact that I have not taught them their mother tongue dialect which is Hokkien. I myself do not know any Chinese Mandarin. :(

Xtina said...

Henny, I suggest you to encourage your kids to have their own blogs so they can learn to write in english too. Let them express their ideas, talk about what they like and make friends with other kids while you still able to monitor their activities on the net.

henny said...

so go find a Mandarin course for yourself since Chinese would become a "giant" country in many things in the next decade. It's a pity if your kids don't know any Chinese Mandarin... My 4th aged kid does have Mandarin lesson at his school.

thanks for the good advice. Actually my teens daughter love to write,too. I've had urged her to have her own blog oneday, but she seemed a little bit shy if somebady read it. I'll try again...

Elaine said...

When I was younger, I speak Cantonese and Hokkien at home. Canto to my dad's side and Hokkie with my mum's side of family. Then after I enter primary school, my dad decided that I should only speak English with him and Mandarin to my mum. I was so stubborn I just put on a fight and refused to, but they were very determined, and I have got no choice. So since age 7, I have been speaking Mandarin to my mum and English to my dad and dialect with the rest of the family.

Now come to my kids, as much as I want them to be bi/multi lingual, but since my hub's family ONLY speak english, it's hard for me to introduce other language to them, feel odd if I speak other language at home. But the good thing is that my eldest is keen to learn Mandarin and voluntary speak Mandarin to me.

So kids do know which language to use with who. Like my kids will definitely not speak Mandarin to their dad and when they see my mum, they know they should/try to speak Mandarin though my mum speaks English too. But because me and my mum speak Chinese, they somehow think that should be the language to use. :)

E-phi said...

Language is the most important thing in your life but if you cannot express yourself it is really difficult to learn language as well. I suggest to teach kid how to express about themselves from the very beginning that's the key...

henny said...

how lucky your kids to know and speak in more than 2 languages. Yes, I beleive then kids do know which language to use with who. Thanks for sharing.

You're right, never be fluent in any language if we only passive 'user' (like me, hehe..). Great suggestion. We'll try to speak English in family more often so the kids would follow.