Thursday, September 15, 2011

Language of the house

Recently Yoshie introduced me to a blog she's been reading called ジャパメリカンズ(Japamericans), which is authored and illustrated by a Japanese Tokyoite currently living in Colorado with her husband and kids.

It's always interesting to me to hear or read about children from multi-lingual households and how they grow up learning language. One of my best friends is from a Dominican family. His parents raised their first two kids by speaking Spanish to them at home, and they learned English at school. In my friend's case, for some reason I guess his English was a little slow to catch, so they got scared and started using English at home. As a result, his Spanish is pretty stunted.

I think about this and wonder...if I were to get married to a Japanese woman (say Yoshie) and settle down in the US and raise a family...would we speak Japanese at home? I find myself with somewhat mixed feelings.

On one hand, I'd like to be able to speak to my children in my native tongue. I'd have to improve my Japanese a lot to be able to convey everything I might want to say to them.

On the other, growing up bilingual would be such an advantage, and they kids would definitely be able to learn English at school. If my Japanese were inadequate, they could always speak it with Mommy while I crawled by with whatever fit at the moment. Although the idea of an exclusively Japanese household is a little daunting to me, that wouldn't necessarily be the case...especially when the kids would get older.

Plus I'm picky about living in America and raising my kids in accordance with my I guess language is somewhere that I should be willing to give ground.

Do any of you have thoughts on this? What's the best way to raise children to speak more than one language? I'm especially interested in hearing from parents current or future, or those who may come from or be close to multilingual families.

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