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If you are bilingual, how would you handle this?

I'm teaching my child two languages, and my husband supports me, which is great. The thing is, when we're around MIL, and I speak to my child in the other language, she always butchers it and calls it some Spanish word (even though this language is no where near Spanish) and laughs that she can't say it. So, instead of learning to say it correctly, she says the Spanish word that sounds like it and laughs. So, the last time she did it, I told her not to make fun of it, so she got really defensive and said she wasn't making fun of it, she was making fun of herself for not knowing how to say it. So, I told her not to make fun of herself for not knowing how to say it and left it at that.
It really bothers me when she does this even though I should be glad she at least tries, but I'm sure this is just the beginning.


Asked by mypreciousbabe at 9:56 AM on Jul. 15, 2010 in Relationships

Level 7 (206 Credits)
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Answers (13)
  • While I can understand your sensitivity, I think it really may be possible that your MIL IS trying. Many Americans do not speak another language. And even if they took some remedial classes in HS or College, most programs do not involve a lot of speaking--mostly reading and writing. Many people are very self conscious and don't want to sound "stupid" so they make light and laugh.

    I'd talk to MIL privately. I'd say something like "Hey, I realize that maybe I'm a little over sensitive about this language stuff. It's really important to me. I know you're trying and I really appreciate that. I get upset when people laugh or make fun because it FEELS like they're making fun of ME and my culture. But I know that's not your intention. I'd be happy to help you learn too if you want. I just want my child to feel comfortable speaking and not feel like we're laughing at him or that doing it incorrectly is okay."

    Answer by BuddyRoo at 11:18 AM on Jul. 15, 2010

  • Maybe she is very uncomfortable with the fact that she doesn't know what is being said. Include her...teach her what you are saying. Ask her if she'd like to learn some of the words. I would think that when in a group the main language spoken would be what is most familiar everyone. GL

    Answer by elizabr at 10:01 AM on Jul. 15, 2010

  • i agree with elizabr 100%. I speak Spanish, French, and english because it is part of my job but. I teach my son some things but no one else in the family speaks any other lauguages. I think it is sort of disrespectful of you to speak in a launguage that not everyone can understand in mixed company. Stick with whatt he majority of people in the room speak unless there is someone there that doesnt and only you can converse with them.

    Answer by wildwiccan83 at 10:09 AM on Jul. 15, 2010

  • what language is it? and do you speak it fluently? If it was my first language that I learned and the language my parents spoke, I would find that completely disrespectful and I would throw a FIT to DH, and he'd sit down and talk to his mom and prolly make her cry and then that would be that. If it was a language that I had learned, I would prolly just throw a small fit to my DH, cuz I wouldn't take it as personally, and I would tell her to knock it off when she did it.

    Answer by MomtoElliett at 10:00 AM on Jul. 15, 2010

  • It's a regional Asian language that all my family, including my parents and I, speaks fluently. She's never even bothered to take interest in it for years of my dating and marriage to her son, but now because I stress that it's important to me, she does this. Maybe I should push for my husband to support me more and learn some basic words, which he's learned 2 because he's horrible in language but has said that he'll learn some basic words to help me with our son. If she does it again, I will definitely have my husband talk to her.

    Comment by mypreciousbabe (original poster) at 10:05 AM on Jul. 15, 2010

  • It is great to teach kids other languages. If your mIL wants to help with Spanish than buy her a book that will teach her well. There is great kids books that simple and can be fun for her and your child.
    That should help out with the stress you are having.

    Answer by gammie at 10:08 AM on Jul. 15, 2010

  • Don't be so hard on yourself and her this is only a phase soon everything will fall into place. Whatever language it is I am sure we all can not pronounce them so don't take it personal. let your mom in law make fun of herself she is just having fun. my mom has a Spanish accent and makes fun of herself when she says it wrong too. No biggie. You don't want to start something with your mom in law bc she seems to be ok with it. Just go with it. GL

    Answer by Butterfly1108 at 10:09 AM on Jul. 15, 2010

  • gammie, it is not Spanish.

    Comment by mypreciousbabe (original poster) at 10:09 AM on Jul. 15, 2010

  • wildwiccan83 and elizabr, it's the language I grew up speaking along with English because it's my native language, so teaching and speaking both English and my native language is important to me, so it's not "disrespectful" that I want to teach MY son that. What's disrespectful is some people who are not open-minded and want to stick to English because that's what "everyone" else is speaking.

    Wow...both of your comments made me realize that I'm lucky to have a MIL who takes the initiative to learn my language.

    Thanks to everyone else!

    Comment by mypreciousbabe (original poster) at 10:15 AM on Jul. 15, 2010

  • I was not being disrespectful. It didn't sound like your first posting was pointing to the fact that your MIl was trying to learn the language. Sorry if I misunderstood. In a group setting the language that is most familiar to everyone should be spoken no matter what it is. I was not saying that English should be spoken.

    Answer by elizabr at 10:25 AM on Jul. 15, 2010

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