As the summer holidays drew to a close and A’s new school term begun I had a flurry of conversations with other parents about teaching children languages.
Over the course of a couple of weeks these encompassed French, Turkish, Russian and, of course, Bengali.
But regardless of the language, we had broadly the same thoughts, namely: it’s difficult, kids probably don’t want to learn a second language. Their friends don’t speak it, perhaps they hear a handful or relatives using it, but that doesn’t make them want to learn it.
So, as much as anything else, it’s about the parent’s will. Can you keep it up, even your child says: “Stop talking to me in [insert choice of language]”.
So it’s difficult to make anything more than slow and sporadic progress.
My Russian friends circumvent this by arranging twice-weekly lessons from a private tutor who travels down from London specially, which is a costly route to go down.
But, however you achieve it, there is, it seems, no alternative for regular practice and perseverance.
With my son A, Bengali is slowly, and after much repetition, seeping into his consciousness.
This exhibits itself in the most unlikely ways. For example, as the new term starts his primary school offers up various clubs. Along with football, construction and recorder club, he says he wants to join the Uno club – because it will help him with his Bengali!
When pressed about this it turns out he’s thinking of unōtris (29 in Bengali).
On top of this there is the recent addition to our family and it will be interesting to see how his younger brother affects things, if at all.