¿Sirve para algo hablar en inglés con mi hijo si no soy nativo?

Hace unos días leíamos en EL PAIS online un artículo titulado ¿Sirve para algo hablar en inglés con mi hijo si no soy nativo? y explicaba que «cada vez más padres se plantean comunicarse en un segundo idioma con sus niños desde que nacen».

En línea con este artículo, hoy os planteamos dos puntos de vista distintos:

El primero es de Jenny Smedley, nuestra actual Project Coordinator. Jenny es inglesa y está casada con un italiano, es madre de dos niñas (de 1 y 3 años) nacidas en Catalunya quienes tendrán contacto con el español y al catalán diariamente en el colegio y en la calle.

El segundo punto de vista es de Matthew Ray, Director de Ziggurat. Matthew es americano y habla catalán y español a la perfección. Matthew nos aporta su visión desde un punto de vista más académico y expone qué beneficios aporta hablar inglés a los hijos y qué preocupaciones te puedes plantear.

«My first question would be WHY? What is your motivation for using English with your child? If it is primarily because you are worried that your child will not be able to reach a decent level of English without your extra input, I would tell you not to worry. Nowadays, we all have far greater access to resources in English for children. There are so many other things you can do with your child to help them [….]»
Leer la opinión de Jenny completa

«I encourage all parents to raise their children bilingual, or even trilingual, if they have the opportunity and the resources. Research has shown that multilingualism has positive cognitive, educational, professional and social benefits for children and adults […]»
Leer la opinión de Matthew completa

Así pues, Jenny apela a la identidad y a la conexión emocional que sólo se consigue con tu lengua materna. Matthew defiende los beneficios de hablar inglés a tus hijos aunque no seas nativo. No obstante, es una decisión muy personal que tu mism@ deberás hacer.

Y tú, ¿hablas inglés con tus hijos? Déjanos tu experiencia o inquietudes abajo en los comentarios. Thanks!

La opinión de Matthew Ray ¿Sirve para algo hablar en inglés con mi hijo si no soy nativo?

The benefits of speaking with your children
I would encourage all parents to raise their children bilingual, or even trilingual, if they have the opportunity and the resources. Research has shown that multilingualism has positive cognitive, educational, professional and social benefits for children and adults. (See the following article below for more information.)

10 Amazing benefits of being bilingual

If done properly, speaking with your children in English can accomplish three very important objectives.

  1. It makes speaking English “normal”: Children often have trouble seeing the value of learning English. If their parents don’t speak or study English, then they question whether it really is important to learn it. However, when their parents speak with them in English, the importance is confirmed, and children will see speaking English as something “normal;” it creates a coherency that will help children to be more enthusiastic about English.
  2. It makes children less likely to reject English: children are less likely to reject English or view it as “work” or “study” if their parents speak it with them daily; English becomes part of the day-to-day routine, instead of something that is being forced on them.
  3. It accelerates learning by increasing input: non-native English input from parents can expose children to A LOT of English in a “natural” way very early on, which gives children an advantage when they start studying English formally in school and/or academies.

Finally, learning English “naturally” in this way can be fun for the whole family, and can also help the parents to improve their English. 😉

Concerns
Some parents might be concerned that their English is not perfect (with respect to accent and grammatical accuracy); but grammatical errors are normal, even when children are exposed to “perfect” native English. I have barely uttered a grammatically-incorrect sentence to my son in the 18 years that I have been speaking English to him, but he still makes grammatical mistakes when writing and speaking; this will be corrected and improved over time.

Remember, also, that there are more non-native English speakers in the world than there are native speakers, so most of the world is speaking “non-native” English anyway; your children don’t have to be perfect, they just need to gain fluency, confidence and a desire to speak English. Once your child is in a native environment, he or she will be able to continue to improve the “imperfections” in their English.

Conclusions and a caveat
The benefits that children gain by receiving English input from their non-native parents far outweigh any possible drawbacks (such as developing a “non-native accent” or imperfect grammar); so, I highly recommend it. However, there is one very important caveat. If your children don’t feel comfortable speaking English with you, or just don’t enjoy it, please do not insist; it could backfire if you do. There is time to learn English later; but if you create a negative experience with English for your children when they are young, it could keep them from enthusiastically embracing English later in life. Have fun and don’t force it!

Matthew Ray

La opinión de Jenny Smedley ¿Sirve para algo hablar en inglés con mi hijo si no soy nativo?

My first question would be WHY? What is your motivation for using English with your child? If it is primarily because you are worried that your child will not be able to reach a decent level of English without your extra input, I would tell you not to worry.

Nowadays, we all have far greater access to resources in English for children. There are so many other things you can do with your child to help them. Why don’t you watch one of their favourite cartoons in English with them, sing together, read together, take them on holiday somewhere English speaking, sign them up to activities in English with children their own age…. Why would you want to sacrifice the chance of communicating to your child in your own beautiful and rich language?

As a mother of two young children, I wouldn’t dream of speaking to my girls in any language other than my native language. We call it mother tongue for a reason. In my opinion, language is much more than a simple means of communication. It is a part of our identity and it allows us to form emotional connections. A fetus in the womb hears their mother speaking when they are just 15 weeks old and one of the first things we do with our babies is to sing lullabies. How natural would it feel singing lullabies in English or mimicking animal noises that are very different to your own language. Woof or guau? No matter how good you may be at English, conversing with a toddler may seem easy but how would you feel about potentially dealing with a teenager’s deeper and more difficult issues in a language that is not your own?

You may think that because I am English, it is easy for me to say all this but I really don’t think that is the case. My husband is Italian and before having our first child, he had pretty much decided that he would speak to our daughter in Spanish as it would be more “useful” for her than Italian as we live here in Spain. In the end, I managed to convince him to speak to her in Italian and to this day he doesn’t regret my doing so. She is half-Italian and the language is part of her identity, her emotional connection with her babbo and how she connects with her grandparents and family in Italy. It is so much more than language.

Summing up, I would tell you not to miss out on speaking to your child in your native language, whatever that might be, and by allowing your child to do fun things in English as they grow up, rest assured they will grow up with a love for English too!

Jenny Smedley

Voy a morirme sin hablar inglés

En el post de hoy, nos gustaría hacer un ‘remember’ de 3 artículos que han tenido una gran repercusión entre nuestros alumnos. Son declaraciones y casos de profesionales con los que nos hemos encontrado en muchas ocasiones y que, por supuesto, se pueden superar y tienen solución.

No soporto cuando no entiendo al profesor
Hace unos días alguien me pidió consejo para “de una vez por todas” aprender inglés. Solicitó un plan de formación para varios meses en el cual le pautáramos una combinación de actividades y recursos que se adaptasen a sus necesidades y nivel.
Leer artículo completo aquí 

He perdido el trabajo de mi vida por no saber inglés
La semana pasada hablé con dos personas con algunas cosas en común: las dos tenían la misma edad (30 años), las dos poseían un buen currículum profesional (tanto por su experiencia como por su formación) y a las dos les habían ofrecido un trabajo que en sus propias palabras “era el trabajo de su vida”. Ninguna de las dos pudo aceptarlo porque no tenían el alto nivel de inglés requerido para el puesto.
Leer artículo completo aquí 

Voy a morirme sin hablar inglés
Durante los últimos 6 años trabajando en Ziggurat, he tenido la oportunidad de hablar con muchos profesionales de diversos ámbitos y bagajes, todos ellos con un objetivo común: aprender inglés. Una de las cosas que más me ha impresionado es la negatividad en muchas de las declaraciones que me han hecho durante las entrevistas: “Estoy negado para los idiomas”, “A mi edad ya no hay nada que hacer” (40 años).
Leer artículo completo aquí