Speaking More English (1)

16 Oct

I am the first to admit that when the kids were small(er) I was a very lazy mother in terms of raising bilingual children – read as I was bloody lazy and didn’t invest the time to sit down and encourage my children to learn English. I did try to use English as much as possible but it was never an overly conscious decision and if shit was hitting the fan I would revert back to Japanese so that things got done, husband understood, Granny K understood or whatever.

For example trying to talk to 3-year old Shou in English about who cut his first lock of hair off wasn’t going to happen when I was so angry I was just about hyperventilitating into an empty wine bottle. No, I had to half Japanese, half sherades ask him…

Chokki chokki (arms flailing) ??? Dare chokki chokki shita no? (who snip snipped your locks dude? – arms still flailing in random scissor hand motion)

Granny K got a pretty mean version of me (remember, I had a 2 year old Marina and a baby Ryu at the time so that coupled with sleep deprivation and yaddah yaddah). I screamed at her in Japanese, which didn’t leave me feeling very satisfied, so finished off with a ‘Stupid Bitch’ in English and slammed her door – which was very satisfying if not highly inappropriate behavior in front of my kids and to my mother in law.

But I digress (quite a lot it would seem), and this post is meant to be about my kids and how their kiwi-speak is coming along.

  • Ryu had his first dream in English. Went something like “No, No, No…. finish!!” Hmmm, not quite sure what it was about but it was definitely English.
  • Last night as I was tucking Shou into bed and he said, unprompted, “Mum, I love you so much”. Considering all I feel like I ever do is yell at them this was a lovely surprise, and the fact that he said it in English made me tear up it did. Bless’em.
  • Shou got invited on his first play date – by the boy who has invited him to his Speedway birthday next weekend. He had a great time and is enjoying school a lot more in general. I really think its due to the lowering frustration levels in terms of language and what he can and can’t say, ask, say back to other kids if they annoy him (and vice versa)etc.
  • The kids use a lot of English when they play together – and it surpasses the previous ‘Ryu is in, Ryu is in, Ryu is in the rubbish bin’ yaddah they had. Now they interchange a lot of phrases between Japanese and English and I haven’t heard any ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘speak Japanese’ lately amongst them either. They are by no means talking to each other solely in English. Not by a long stretch. BUT, it is definitely increasing and hey, I’ll take what I can get.
  • We spent most of the two-week holiday with other kids and it was awesome seeing the kids happily playing and talking away in English.
  • At home there are a lot of English words being thrown around in Japanese sentences. Mixing and matching depending on what is faster to access from the brain I guess. Japanese sentences with the verbs in English, like “ママ、put on shoesしたよ。
  • I am in the process of resourcing heaps of cool English stuff we can use to continue with our study back home. It’s fun looking but I fear the amount of shite I will be having to post back next month!

In other news, hub is missing us and while our time here is flying by I think his is probably going more slowly 😦 That said, we only have a little over TWO MONTHS to go!! Gaaaahhhhhh. Only a month or so and I’ll have to start my list of what I need to get sorted, buy, last eats etc, before we go home!

I am only just tonight getting the boxes ready of NZ choccies to send to the dance girls and soccer boys. Figured that if I don’t get my A into G then they wouldn’t arrive till the week before we get home! Slack bitch.

Right, off to check a translation and go to bed.




11 Responses to “Speaking More English (1)”

  1. japanmama October 16, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    Wow! Only two months left?! That’s flown by! Great that the children are getting on with the language. Mine always forget Japanese when we are back in the UK for a long time. Comes right back after a few days though.

    • gaijinwife October 16, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

      I know right, it has gone really fast. It will be interesting to see how much Japanese they have forgotten by the time we actually leave. Fingers crossed it is a lot and has been replaced by awesome kiwi-ness for at least a little while 🙂

  2. Merry October 16, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Wish my kids would STOP speaking English. They don’t know any others, so maybe it’d be quiet around here for once. 😛

    • gaijinwife October 16, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

      haha – yeah, sometimes I wish I could just introduce a Charlie Chaplin day once a week where we could all waddle around pointing and doing gestures, although no doubt I’d be gesturing wine pouring and they would be gesturing gaming :p

  3. chrysanthemummum October 16, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    Great to hear that the kids are speaking more English. Persevere when you return to Japan and don’t worry that Granny K or hub don’t understand much. We’ve been here in the UK 6 months and I haven’t heard the kids speak any Japanese for a while now. For about 4 months or so they would immediately switch into Japanese when playing together and switch back to English when talking to me, family and friends.

    It does sound like the kids and you are making the most of the trip. It’s flying by though, ne. xx

    • gaijinwife October 16, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

      yeah, it really is going fast 😦 I miss Japan and hub of course but I feel like we are finally getting into our stride here. Are you doing anything in the UK to keep the kids Japanese up?

      • chrysanthemummum October 17, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

        Unfortunately, I haven’t been conscientious about the Japanese study. There’s not much Skyping going on between their dad either. There’s too much to do homework wise as it is for me to devote time to Japanese. They are learning so much – not just literacy wise but the history they learn is impressive. I have found a couple of young men who want to learn Japanese so this may provide a bit of Japanese time at home one evening a week at least. I should make an effort to Skype friends in Japan though…

  4. Lisa Case October 17, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    Now is your chance to reinforce their English when you go back to Japan by only speaking English to them at home and insisting they respond in English to you. I know it is hard, my children are all bi-lingual (Spanish/English) as we raised them in Latin America a good portion of their lives. I had to speak English only at home until they were old enough and had it down well. Later we all just went back and forth in whatever language depending on what we were thinking in.
    My husband is half Japanese. He was raised in the States but his mother never spoke to him in Japanese (of course it was only 15 years after WW2 so…) but now we’re in Japan, he’s 54 and trying to learn his other ‘mother tongue’. How he wishes she would have taught him Japanese.

  5. ds October 20, 2014 at 9:38 am #


    Gaijin dad here. I found that the key to having bilingual kid (singular, in my case) was having an all-English environment at home, or when we were together as a family. My wife is Japanese, but she also spoke English at home as much as possible, especially when our son was around. Parents are role models for language as well as teachers. I have seen waaay too many cases of one parent actively or passively sabotaging the bilingual efforts of their spouse by saying “it’s too hard” or “I can’t be bothered….”

    If you and your hub could use English together, it would be a great thing for your kids to see. It doesnt matter if his English isnt fluent, or native pronunciation, or anything like that. All the kids need to see is dad trying to do it, and they will understand that English is valuable.

    • gaijinwife October 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

      Thanks Ds.
      I hadn’t really thought of it like that but I agree that the kids seeing dad trying would make a difference and it is an approach I will bring up with him when I see him. You get so much information and a lot points towards only using your native tongue with the kids but now that they are a bit older I think the fact that dad was trying too would outweigh the fact his pronunciation is crapballs. I think convincing Granny K will be too hard so it won’t be a fully English environment at home but the more the better right! Thank you.

      • chrysanthemummum November 10, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

        It’s a good comment above by ds. I hated the fact that my hub couldn’t speak English. My kids would revert to Japanese regularly in the home though I insisted that they spoke to me in English and I only ever spoke to them in English, too. It wasn’t nearly enough exposure. Friends who are lucky enough to practice English at home with their Japanese spouses have had much more success with their kids’ bilingual ability I’ve noticed. Understanding Japanese was a curse sometimes because the kids didn’t understand why they had to use English if I could speak to them in Japanese. I think one parent one language doesn’t address the issue of what language to speak as a family. For us, it meant that Japanese language became the favourite language for the kids. English in the home, Japanese outside the home provides more balance I guess.

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