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Subject: Best approach to teaching a child Russian in a monolingual English environment
Question: Hello, I am Russian but I permanently live in the UK with English husband and a baby boy. I'm really eager for my son to speak boy Russian and English but I am concerned whether my approach is the best. I am a stay-at-home mum at the moment and I speak Russian to my son as much as I can. Sadly, it is not always possible to follow a strict ''One Parent One Language'' method. I'd love to only speak Russian to my boy and for my husband to only speak English, but living in the UK means we go to English- speaking baby groups (including singing English songs at our local library at a reading group), we meet English friends and even at home my husband and I communicate in English between us. Surely, he should be exposed to being with other children and adults a lot in order to develop his social skills, too. I try really hard to surround my boy with Russian as much as I can (talking to him as much as possible, reading Russian books and singing Russian songs, speaking to his grandparents frequently and for long) but unfortunately I do not speak Russian exclusively to him. Is it going to be a major problem for his learning of Russian? I worry at some point he might refuse to speak it to me since he knows I also speak English on some occassions. My husband does not speak Russian fluently, so we cannot make it our family language at home. Please, would you advise to me the best approach? Thank you so much in advance.
Reply: I'm hoping some of my acquisition colleagues will chime in, but your situation shows that parents live in an imperfect world and we do what we can. You're making a great effort already, so don't be too anxious. Some other ways to increase Russian exposure would be to take your son home to Russia and find Russian emigres in the UK to interact with. Skype and cell phones are also great tools. The idea is to make speaking Russian both natural and advantageous. If your son does refuse to speak to you in Russian, I would not despair. He will already be better off in terms of fluency, and may likely realize the errors of his way in due course....
Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 16-Aug-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Best approach to teaching a child Russian in a monolingual English environment    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (18-Aug-2012)
  2. Re: Best approach to teaching a child Russian in a monolingual English environment    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (16-Aug-2012)

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