When I am with my children I almost always speak English to them. I sometimes speak Japanese to them if I am speaking to a Japanese person. When people around us here me speaking English to my children they always ask me:
“Is your child Bilingual?”
“Does your child speak English?”
“Does your child speak Japanese?”
For our oldest child, 5 years old, the answer is yes. She speaks both Japanese and English and understands both languages. Our second child started speaking more and more English this year. She is very proud of her English ability and often shouts “I can speak English.” or 「私は英語を喋るよ！」Our youngest child is only 1 and a half. He understands both languages but still only has a small vocabulary.
At home I speak only English to my children. My wife also does that but she often also uses Japanese. Since they all go to kindergarten they get lots of practice speaking Japanese. My oldest used to get very upset with us speaking English in the home. We were really worried she wouldn’t want to learn English. We showed her lots of English shows but it wasn’t until we went to Australia that she realised that not everyone speaks Japanese. After the trip she said “I have to learn English so I can speak to my cousins.”
It has been much easier with our second child. She sees our oldest talking English all the time with me and wants to copy. Recently my oldest said “Why do we have to speak English at home?” Our second child copied her and started complaining about it too. I’m not worried though because I know she is just copying what her sister says. When they say they don’t want to speak English I just tell them, “OK, I’ll stop speaking English too. That means no more stories, no more singing.” That usually gives them something to think about.
Do you want your children to be bilingual? Why? Why not?
What does my second child often say?
What helped my first child want to learn English?
What do I say when my children say they don’t want to learn English?