Where are you [baba, mama, aloo]
Love you [baba, mama, aloo]
See you later!
No 'ew' in bubbles [translation: don't poop in the tub]
While he says it all in an adorable desi accent, accents do not a dual language make. To be fair, we do have Urdu words, many of them in fact, like kidhki [window], bus [stop, done], dudu [milk], aam [mango], but when it comes to conversation, English is pulling full steam ahead.
I can't blame him. Nor can I fully blame myself. I'm fluent, but things were different for me. Despite English everywhere, I grew up in a greenhouse of language. My parents spoke Punjabi and Urdu, as did their friends whose homes we shuttled to and from on weekends, as did my cousins who immigrated over the years, and the Hindi movies I watched as a kid [Hindi is its own distinct language, but spoken, its virtually the same as Urdu].
It's different for my son. K and I speak English to each other, our siblings, our friends, the cashier at the grocery store. At storytime, Gymboree, with his cousins, and many of his budding friends, he is in an ocean of English. And me? I'm a leaky faucet of Urdu.
To be clear, I don't regret speaking to him in Urdu. I can't underestimate this contribution, however small it may ultimately be. He understands Urdu. Fluently. Considering 90% of our one-on-one time is Urdu, we've had no language barrier and I believe he's better off for knowing Urdu even if its ultimately a temporary state of being.
But considering his English proclivities, how do we go forward?
Some options I'm considering:
- Switch entirely to English. I have to translate everything for little guy at Storytime and Gymboree and most places we go and I worry that since he's speaking English the most, I'm hindering him by not giving him more. A friend's neighbor, a language specialist, said you hurt your kids when you don't speak in your native tongue, and though I speak Urdu well, its my third language. As fluent as I am, I'm not nearly as fluent as I am in English.
- Speak Urdu at limited times. Maybe switch to speaking Urdu only when its just us and speak English everywhere else. Or perhaps, take it a step further and speak English all the time, save 1-2 hours each day when we speak only in Urdu.
- Stick to what I'm doing now. This is status quo and though it was hard to get here, I'm very comfortable speaking to him entirely in Urdu. Just don't know if its the best option to help him gain the most vocabulary and speaking skills.
Thoughts? Anyone reading ever been in these shoes? Advice or perspective much appreciated.