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Friday, 17 May 2013

A Very Special Friday With Leanna of All Done Monkey

Today is definitely not my kind of day. First, the workers came to do something in our house. I was home with the children, the workers were, well, working, and everybody was loud so now I have a headache. The fact that I didn't sleep well last night doesn't help. Also, outside it is raining. Again.

Luckily, Leanna came to the rescue with this great post. In it, she describes her husband's experience of being corrected.... by a three-year old. I met Leanna through the Multicultural Kids Blog and she is a kind, wonderful person. Check out Leanna's blog ,with the great name, All Done Monkey- it seems that after the interview with Adam we're not done with monkeys just yet!



When Daddy Has an Accent - Alldonemonkey on The European Mama

We knew this moment would come, we just didn't expect it to come so soon. Sometime before his third birthday, our son began to correct my husband's English. "No, Daddy, it's party," Monkey insisted, though this is what my husband had said. 

My husband has a very light accent in English, but it does show up in certain words, like "party," which is exactly what the hippos in the book were trying to do. To Monkey's ears, it sounded like his father was having the hippos go "potty" - an entirely different story! We are raising our sons to be bilingual in Spanish and English, using the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method. Since I am from the US, I speak to the boys exclusively in English, and my husband, who is from Costa Rica, speaks to them only in Spanish. Although we are lucky enough to travel to Costa Rica periodically, for the most part our Monkeys are immersed in the English-speaking environment of the US. And, of course, so are we. Which means that although my husband has made an heroic effort to speak to the boys only in Spanish, they do regularly hear him speak English as well - to me, to friends, to people on the phone. And - much more rarely - to the boys.


One instance when this tends to happen is at bedtime. We have had a lot of luck finding books in Spanish for the boys to read, but of course many of their books are in English. And so, at night Monkey is likely to ask us to read him books that are in English. When it is my husband's turn to do bedtime, he usually translates into Spanish as he reads. These days, however, Monkey is at an age when he likes to hear a story told the same way every time, and so my husband will often oblige and read the books in English. But since Monkey spends most of his time with me, he is used to how I read the stories, including how I pronounce the words. And so lately he has started to correct his father, just as he would correct him when my husband skips a part of the story or teasingly begins to talk about the Dog in the Hat instead of the Cat.

To Monkey, the above exchange ("party" vs. "potty") was insignificant, but to my husband and me it was a sign of things to come. How will our Monkey feel about our accents as he gets older? Will he be embarrassed of my Spanish, or try to help my husband with his English? I suspect the next turning point will come when he starts school and begins to care about what his friends think. Will being different make us the "weird" parents or (fingers crossed) the "cool" ones? More significantly, how will our son see himself?

Something in our favor is that we have many friends with accents, since they come from Mexico, Colombia, the Phillippines, Iran, and India, among others. So hopefully having an accent will seem as normal to Monkey as not and just one more difference to enjoy rather than ridicule. Do your children correct your accent? How can we use it as a way to teach about heritage and diversity?




Alldonemonkey.comLeanna is a stay at home mother to a sweet, funny, rambunctious three year old boy and his adorable, smiley baby brother.  She draws inspiration from the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith and tries to raise her Monkeys in a fun, spiritual, loving environment.  She and her husband, who is from Costa Rica, are raising their boys to be bilingual and bicultural but more importantly to be “world citizens.”  Having studied anthropology, history, and library science, Leanna now trolls the internet and Pinterest for recipe and craft ideas. ”All Done Monkey” is her attempt to make sense of it all.



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17 comments:

  1. Lovely post and good questions! I don't have any answers for you but my husband has a British accent and I have an American accent we are wondering what the girls will end up with. They also correct both of us when we try to speak Chichewa!

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  2. This is in fact a great post, and I too have a Spanish accent; but my 4 yr. old doesn't seem to pick up on it since I'm the one who reads to him in both English and Spanish. As for Monkey, I think eventually he will get accustomed to it since he's already surrounded by others who have accents as well. As he gets older he won't think about it twice about his Daddy sounding different than the rest... unless, Daddy changes the whole story by one mispronounced word. :) LOL He'll be fine, don't give it too much thought or make a big deal about it. If you and Daddy accept your accents as "normal" he will see it, and perceive it that way. Now if you make a point to single out accents then he will do the same. :)

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    1. I agree, Frances! Children know who speaks what, and it doesn't matter whether it's language or accent! When I speak German, I have a very slight accent, and when I speak German with my husband, Klara asks me what I just said, as if she didn't understand me! So funny!

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  3. My husband and I are both native English speakers, but I grew up in a home very similar to yours. My mother is from here in the states and my father is from Guatemala. That was a different generation, though and he chose to speak to me exclusively in English to ensure that I was "Americanized" - on a side note he only speaks to my children in Spanish though. He's a funny guy!

    I do remember specifically how we handled accents though, in the same way that I would be politely corrected if I mis-pronounced things, I was encouraged to politely correct my father if he mispronounced something. I think it worked out great, I was never trying to insult him, and he never gave me the impression that he felt that way. We were improving our grammar and pronunciation together.

    I don't remember being specifically told as a child not to correct other adults pronunciation, but I don't recall ever considering doing it either.

    You are obviously conscious and thoughtful about this, so I'm sure no matter what you all choose to do, it will work out great!

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    1. Hello Leia, thank you for your comment and sharing your sroty! I also think that Leanna is doing a great job raising her children bilingually! I love your comment about politely correcting someone- after all, the children will speak the language better than we will and we can learn from them!

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  4. I´m afraid this is going to happen to me as well. I guess I will learn a lot more than I know once my girl starts speaking and going to school. Hopefully I´d be able to like a little bit more Hungarian. Thank you for sharing with us.

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Hello, Madre Exilio and thank you for your input! I think you will be surprised by how well children handle these things! And yes, maybe she will correct your accent, you can use this to explain that it's not a bad thing to have an accent- it means that we're trying to communicate hard in a language that is not our own- that's agood trait, not a bad one!

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  5. What a great post! I love Leanna, and I love how her children are learning and growing. What an excellent experience growing up.

    I wish I grew up in a multilingual environment. I think it's an education in and of itself. Her kids will grow up so much more worldly! I love it!

    Thanks so much for this post!

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    1. Hi Lisa, thank you for your comment!Yes, I agree that multilingualism is a gift we can give to our children, even though in our case it's more a necessity. But in monolingual families parents can also ensure that the children grow up to be tolerant and open-minded! Besides, what a wonderful blog you have, Lisa!

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  6. Hi there! Interesting post! From the child's point of view, I was born and raised in Texas with Venezuelan parents and am now an expat in Paris, France. Needless to say I've been flooded with lots of different influences.

    I remember when I was younger I felt I was a bit different and I was a bit embarrassed by mother's (much heavier) accent in English but that was a very short phase. Aside from that, I never really cared and was considered cool for knowing two languages and speaking both correctly and trying to keep up my grammar and vocabulary.

    As kids, we all have little awkward phases or things we get embarrassed about that adults just don't understand but we grow out of these things. I wouldn't worry about it.

    Au contraire! You are affording your children so many opportunities and opening extra doors for them. Without my parents' decisions, encouragement and influences I wouldn't have had the incredible, wordly experiences I owe greatly to them. Lucky me. And your kids will feel just the same in regards to you. ;)

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    1. Hi Carolyn, thank you for stopping by! I love how you have learned to embrace your many cultural influences. I agree I also was embarassed by the way my parents had me speak German, but now I am happy they did!

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  7. Hi, I will try to write in english... I love this post and everything about multicultural kids issues... I am a french mama living in Greece and my husband is greek. I also studied linguistic. When our son was 6 months he used to laugh when his father was speaking french to him. He knew something was different and it was funny to him. I speak the 2 languages with him because it's my way of living. I live in Greece almost 20 years and I did not want to separate languages. Speaking is just a free way of expressing yourself, I didn't want to control it with my child. He is 32 months old and speaks very well greek and french. He still uses to laugh with his father and always says something like this : "Daddy you're talking french now", when this happens. With me he never speak about the language. He only starts talking to me with "mama" if he wants me to answer in greek or with "maman" if he wants me to answer in french, and insists a lot if I don't answer in the correct language...

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    1. Hello MaryAthens, thank you for your great comment! What you're doing with your children is great, I love how you both can switch languages. You don't need to be consistent and you should just speak the way you're most comfortable, and if it's speaking two languages, then speak that! I love how your son can recognize and choose between the languages and addresses you in the language of his choice!

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  8. I am working on raising my little one speaking French and English, while also working on my French, and I love seeing posts like this. I am so looking forward to having a little French tutor in the house! Won't it be a delight when he starts to correct your Spanish?

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    1. Hi bilingualexperiment, thanks for stopping by! Yes, Leanna's post is so great, isn't? I can tell you that having a little tutor in the house is awesome and tons of fun! It is a delight because hten you know you're doing it right!

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  9. So far the girls haven't corrected us but I think once Spanish gets going, I am going to hear a lot of comments on my terrible grammar!

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  10. Hi Cordelia, thanks for commenting. Hahaha, yes, my girl corrects my German (which is actually quite good!), so it happens to all of us. I guess that's what we have to deal with for having a multilingual child :D

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