DEAR ABBY: "Left Out in Florida" feels it is inconsiderate of her daughter-in-law to speak only her native language (not English) with her children in front of their grandparents. You advised that the mother should speak English in this situation.
My son attends a bilingual immersion school, and I have attended lectures about raising bilingual children.
It is extremely difficult to pass on a language other than English to kids living in America. As the children grow, they will be increasingly drawn to English. The most successful families are those who do exactly what the mom in the letter is doing. They speak only their native language with their children and are very persistent about it. This is the recommendation of the experts.
What should also be happening is translation for others when necessary. Grandparents don't need to understand everything that is said, and their job is to speak English with the youngsters so they become truly bilingual.
Bilingualism is an incredible gift to give a child. These parents obviously understand the value of what they are doing. I hope the grandparents will support it.
- Bilingual Mom in Oregon
DEAR BILINGUAL MOM: Thank you for lending your insight. I heard from others who have firsthand knowledge on this issue:
DEAR ABBY: My son also married a woman from another country. She has spoken only her native tongue to my granddaughter from Day 1. My son speaks English to his daughter. My daughter-in-law speaks English to me.
I care for the little girl three days a week. She's 4 and completely bilingual. I thank my lucky stars that she has this opportunity. "Left Out" should be grateful her grandkids have this huge advantage.
- Jean in Millersville, Md.
DEAR ABBY: I wish you had suggested to "Left Out" that she and her husband try to learn the language of their grandchildren. Ever since my grandkids started attending a bilingual school, I have been studying to try to keep up with them. Communication is a two-way street!