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Help Required Teaching Sister Polish

xChupitax 1 | 3  
18 Dec 2008 /  #1
Lately, I've been trying to teach my 3 year old sister polish, and I've been trying to talk to her in Polish as much as possible. But the problem is she'll either ask "What you sayin'?", respond in English if I say "nie" or "tak" (which she often mistakes for "duck"), or she won't understand at all. And also, I would like to teach her how to read and write in Polish eventually, but after she's learned to read and write in English without getting confused between the two. So basically, my questions are 1) Could I just speak to her in Polish often enough that she'll understand what I'm saying sooner or later, 2) Are there any places on the Internet where I could buy children's books in Polish, and 3) At three years, is she even young enough to just "pick up" on a language? Any answers are appreciated! Dziękuję! :D
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
19 Dec 2008 /  #2
From what I heard from my friend with a billingual kid (father is Polish mother is not): they've been using both languages from the beginning (even before the baby started to speak), the child mixes them at the beginning (using some words from one language and other words from the other language, often also creates new words mixing the rules of both languages), it just comes with time that the kid starts to "feel" the difference and separate the languages as two different ones, but you shouldn't be worried about it.

So I'd go with your option 1.

1) Could I just speak to her in Polish often enough that she'll understand what I'm saying sooner or later

Don't worry if she replies in English, be patient, a 3 y.o. kid can't grasp the concept of the future usefullness of knowing foreign languages, so you can't exercise any pressure on her, because it may cause the reverse reaction (she could reject this second "useless" language).

I think books in Polish would be too difficult for her as she's only a beginner, some songs (especially songs for kids) would be better for now - and it would be wise that first you familiarize her (through talks or games) with some of the words that are sung, so when she hears the song for the first time some words/sentences will be known to her, this way she might be more interested in learning what the whole song is about.

Generally for a kid that already speaks one language (English in this case) you have to be more resourceful, the kid must feel that this new language is usefull to her/him too. There must be some kind of a "reward" attached.

Kids living in a mixed environment, playing with other kids of different nationalities will start learning without a problem, because they will need those new "strange" words for an activity they love. So you should play with her using gradually more and more Polish.

And I'm also sure that if you say to her several times "chcesz cukierka" instead of "do you want a candy" (or some similar "rewarding" questions - if you don't want to feed her too much sweets :) she'll remember it. Maybe some Polish cartoons could be usefull too.

So generally, you should use Polish when she has "some interest" in understanding (activities, things she likes).
HAL9009 2 | 304  
19 Dec 2008 /  #3
Having Polish language in the constant background, radio, tv would help to immerse her in the language and its sounds. Polish will then be normal.

Also, cartoons and children's tv in Polish would be a good idea. At that age, the language of the tv doesn't matter but it will soak in as they watch the images.
OP xChupitax 1 | 3  
19 Dec 2008 /  #4
I think books in Polish would be too difficult for her as she's only a beginner

I didn't expect her to read the book, I was going to read it to her :). But using songs and cartoons sound like good ideas.
Polonius3 1,000 | 12,446  
20 Dec 2008 /  #5
Try the CO TO JEST? game, pointing to colorful pictures of people, animals and things in children's books or comics. Small prizes for correct answers are always an incentive.
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
20 Dec 2008 /  #6
I didn't expect her to read the book, I was going to read it to her :).

And I was fully aware of this :)
I meant "difficult" as more demanding (focus, patience), while cartoons and songs are easier, because they contain nice pictures/melodies that may become the "anchor element" - catching the child's attention at first, and while the child may not care for words that accompany these pictures/melodies he/she is still exposed to Polish - like during the natural process of learning the native language from the parents.
OP xChupitax 1 | 3  
20 Dec 2008 /  #7
Oh, I see what you mean. We read a lot of books to her and she loves to pick up books and pretend she's reading them which is why reading to her in Polish would be a good idea; she likes being read to and trying to read and she'd be exposed to Polish at the same time. But you do have a point there. I don't think she'd sit down long enough for a book anyway, lol. Would you happen to know of any places where I could find Polish music or cartoons for children?
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
20 Dec 2008 /  #8
know of any places where I could find Polish music or cartoons for children?

Music, not really, maybe search some older threads here and you find something (see links at the bottom of my post).
Do you have a satellite dish? TV Polonia (available on Hotbird and Aster) has some Polish cartoons. That's if you're in Europe of course, I don't know if they broadcast TV Polonia on other continents (I'm sure it's available in some cable networks in USA, but I have no exact information).

I can't find right now more threads (not sure what key words to use in my search and I have to go to sleep soon!), but in this thread above there's an external link to short poems for children:
chris_miner - | 2  
21 Dec 2008 /  #9
There's a one parent one language rule that people talk about. I assume it applies to anyone who interacts with the child. So mom speaks english, dad polish, the nanny german, the aunt russian, and the brother in law only uses sign-language. One caretaker one language. Also I second Krzysztof remark about her responding in english, she'll understand any language long before she can use it.

So, xChupitax, you'll have the greatest success if you speak polish to her and only polish all the time. Otherwise she'll think the words all belong to one language. Or otherwise be confused. Or otherwise not relate well to you. Another option is to speak only polish all the time in certain contexts. Then she'll learn it as a separate language.

You don't say, but it would probably also be helpful/important for you to be a native/fluent speaker of the language.

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