Once again Brian of London has branched out and had something published away from Israellycool. Do not fear, I’m not deserting Israellycool but sometimes a topic can have greater impact elsewhere and perhaps draw a few people to our work here spreading the good news about Israel.
This time I answered an earlier post written by the Times of Israel social media maven, Sarah Tuttle Singer, in Kveller about bringing up multi-lingual kids in Israel. Kveller is an interesting Jewish parenting site and, as is the way, largely dominated by women writers. But they were happy to hear from a dad for a change. It is well worth looking at.
While the title (chosen by the editor) and the article put TV front and centre, we do read and speak to our kids in English too.
If my relationship with Hebrew had to have a status, I’d pick, “It’s complicated.” But as I’m rapidly closing in on the fourth anniversary of my move to Israel, it really should be better.
For a while–just as Sarah wrote a few weeks ago–I was learning Hebrew from my eldest child, but that stopped. One day, two years ago, at the tender age of 4, he decided he wanted to speak English and that was that. How does a 4-year-old make that choice?
I married my Israeli wife 13 years ago after a few years of business dealings in Israel. We set up home in the UK immediately and my on/off attempts to pick up conversational Hebrew sputtered and stalled. After seven years, our first child came and with it the realization that we had a chance to give him the gift of two languages.
My wife’s English is school and self-taught. Landing in the UK, her English was passable. With hard work and immersion, she improved it no end. She’s the first to admit, however, she’s no native speaker. She was always going to speak to her children in Hebrew.
My Hebrew, even today, is so bad my eldest just shakes his head and tells me not to speak Hebrew to him.
I can barely say “Shalom” in a restaurant before I’m being handed “tafrit be-anglit“: a menu in English.