Bilingual Life: June/What Language to Speak?
Choosing a language
There are many ways to raise a child from parents of multiple nationalities. Some people say in order to raise a truly bilingual child parents must only speak the foreign language at home. So in my case this would mean that my family would only speak English at home in Japan but Japanese could be spoken outside. Additionally some people say “one parent, one language rule” is the best way to raise a bilingual child. This would mean that my wife would only ever speak Japanese and I would only ever speak English. Even when we spoke together it would be in different languages. Each method undoubtedly has its own strengths and weaknesses. Our situation, however, is slightly different to both of these examples so I cannot say which way is the best.
Today I would like to talk about some changes we made at my home concerning how we will raise our daughter. My wife speaks Japanese to me and my daughter. I speak English to my daughter and Japanese to my wife. Because my daughter lives in Japan and will grow up here, her Japanese will one day definitely be stronger and more fluent than her English. This cannot be avoided and it is only natural. I am glad she will be a fluent Japanese speaker. One day she will make fun of my Japanese and accent! But until then we can make the process better and easier for her in a way that helps her retain and understand as much English as possible.
From this month my wife will continue to speak to our daughter in Japanese as always but will speak to me in English. All conversations between parents will be in English. We will only speak Japanese when our daughter is sleeping or not around. This will be a big change for us. It will be difficult. But we will try to follow this new rule and will report on any progress here in this blog.