how to teach kids a 2nd language when it's a dialect?
Thread poster: elizsenouci
Nov 2, 2006

Hi all.
I've never posted to this forum but i've been reading the posts and found it quite interesting.
After reading about everyones' experiences I wonder how to tackle this same thing with my husband, who speaks Arabic, but a dialect. We speak French (more and more, English) to each other, but we live in the US now. How will it be possible for our kids (when we have them) to learn Arabic, much less the dialect he speaks? Anyone else come across this problem?


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Ben Gaia MA
New Zealand
Local time: 22:56
French to English
Speak it! Nov 4, 2006

Best way is for you and your partner to speak his language at home, and with the kids so they grow up with it as an alternative norm. Don't exclude English, but it will help if you learn Arabic yourself and converse with Dad in front of the kids. I learnt Welsh this way as the adult partner of a Welsh speaker. Satellite TV and internet news channels may help but try to find a dialect close to yours.

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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:56
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
written language is not the same as spoken mother tongue dialects Nov 7, 2006

elizsenouci wrote:
After reading about everyones' experiences I wonder how to tackle this same thing with my husband, who speaks Arabic, but a dialect. ... How will it be possible for our kids (when we have them) to learn Arabic, much less the dialect he speaks? Anyone else come across this problem?


Actually, there is no problem. Everyone speaks a dialect form of the fuzzy thing we refer to as language. See the following two posts:

does one speak a language or dialect?
http://www.proz.com/post/294505#294505

American English is a dialect composed of subdialects, but call it variety for general public
http://www.proz.com/post/255501#255501

As Tom Sawallis (cited in the linked post in the first of the two posts given above) stated, the only mother tongue we have is the one we speak because written language is a second language to everyone and is learned at school (or some form of school-type learning).

Just do as Ben says in the post above: speak it!

I speak my US West Coast Portland area American English dialect (with a slight bit of Minneapolis dialect) to our kids (who are growing up primarily immersed in French), and yet they understand not only my variety/ies of English but also the dialect types of English spoken by our British friends.

That said, Arabic does have a specific context in which Classical Arabic is the written code which no one speaks as a mother tongue, and then there are all of the local spoken varieties (dialects) which have vowel systems which vary significantly across the Arabic speaking world. And then there is Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) which is promoted by the TV and radio media to provide a cross-variety unified form for all Arabic-speaking people to understand each other. This is discussed a little at:

MSA and Arabic dialects
http://www.proz.com/post/385076#385076

However, other "languages" have examples of this to one extent or another. For example, in English, off the top of my head, there are two different ways to pronounce each of the words below based on where you have lived:

root
roof
route
which

Same in French: depending on where you come from, it is possible to pronounce the following words differently:

chien
viande
étais

There are more examples in each of these languages, but this shows that even the phonetic differences of language disappear in the written language which levels out the differences as a phonemic level concept.


Jeff


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