Summer is the land where language immersion goes to die. We went from a kid who was practically speaking in tongues to an anxious xenoglossophobic. I admit now that I either didn't notice or (more likely) ignored the early signs, but the problem ("shift in focus") became clear when I tried to ask him a question in Hawaiian and he burst into tears.
"No Mommy...please, no! Only English!" *sob sob*
Where did that come from?!
I told him before summer began that we could spend time working on English. He has a little Summer Fun workbook (page-a-day thing) and eagerly signed up for the summer reading program at our local library. The first few visits I was able to convince him to try some new Hawaiian or bi-lingual stories, but now I'm having to resort to sneaking them into the checkout pile so we can avoid a public argument over whether or not he should have to read "No Ke Kumu ʻUlu". If I had known that he was going to staunchly entrench himself in the comforts of English, would I still have been so permissive come the last day of school?
After much self-reflecting I've concluded that - as much as I want to and/or believe I should - I can't shove a language down his throat. He has to speak Hawaiian at school and he has to do his school work in whatever language that demands - but putting rules and restrictions on how he expresses himself outside that time is only going to make him resentful and disinterested. Two feelings I am not looking to encourage.
He will come around. Seeing his little brother start the immersion program next year will get him jazzed about Hawaiian again (I hope). And the sparkly luster of English will begin to wear once he gets his fill of Fly Guy books (and discovers nonsensical vowel combinations - mwahahaha).
I can only control my own attitudes and behavior, silently hoping and praying that they might rub off somehow. Today, after another fight over whether to watch the English or Japanese version of Digimon, I made this deal with my almost 6 year old:
I want to learn Hawaiian right now and you want to learn English. I'm not going to freak out if you read English books and you can't freak out if I ask you questions in Hawaiian. I want to watch Japanese Digimon and if you want to watch with me, you gotta deal with it. Next year, mommy is going to study really hard and at the end of the year we will see how much better we both get. You help me, and I will help you. No more being upset.
Expression should be a joy. I can lead him to the language, but I canʻt make him speak it. That has to come from him.
How do you deal with the summer language slump? Any brilliant ideas for keeping the immersion language alive when school is out of session?