Tara Kamiya


Engrish is not welcomed here

The boys are both officially bi-lingual.

They choose their languages depending on who is present and the situation.

If I am present my 4 year old will almost always speak English. When he plays by himself he will speak Japanese. When he speaks to his brother and father he uses both, and he knows that his grandparents and cousins only speak Japanese, so he speaks Japanese to them and everyone else.

It is very interesting to see him progress as my child, but not with my language as his first language. Since we live in Japan his first language is Japanese. He is acquiring new words daily and they are usually at school through teachers and friends. I try to keep up by reading books and letting him watch a few shows in English, but it is apparent that I am the second language parent. Today he explained the weather to me and used the Japanese word for thunder(Kaminari). Sometimes I don’t realize what vocabulary he needs until he uses the Japanese. For me that is fine and interesting.

I feel very comfortable with my 4 year old’s language ability. He acquires new words and uses them immediately in both languages. I have also planted the seed for him to be multilingual by introducing Spanish early on as well. There are some shows he only watches in Spanish. At this point I know that he can understand what seems to be 40% without speaking fluently. After living in Japan and trying to learn myself I have no worries about learning most other alphabet based languages. Spanish seems to be something that he can acquire inside of 6 months of immersion. I am not fluent as I posted once before, but my foundation is strong and I feel confident introducing the language.

This summer I will continue teaching my son to read Japanese. So why choose Japanese?Well, because it will bring faster returns. It is a phonetic language. Once I teach the sound for (ah) I am done. In English one letter can have multiple sounds and then I have to drill sight words. My son was able to read Japanese in 2 weeks of hiragana lessons. The sound never changes, and he is already a fluent speaker, so he knows and understands the words he is reading already.

My goal is to have him reading to the other children by the end of the summer.

My two year old is fluent, well, as fluent as a 2 year old is in any language. He is still stringing his 3 and 4 words together. English is stronger because we don’t have him in preschool like we did with my 4 year old. Also, I do not speak any Japanese to my 2 year old. When we first moved I wanted the family to speak 100% Japanese because I was new and I wanted to be sure that we would be able to survive here. Now that I know how things are done I have relaxed and I let the language come to my 2 year old naturally. His father and brother speak to him in Japanese. He is surrounded by it, I don’t have to work with him on it at all.

One thing I will say is that this is so much fun. Programming my children with language and knowing that it will be beneficial to them no matter what life path they choose. What I am really thinking about is; should I give all of the children a different foreign language/third language? Language is a gift. To be fluent in multiple languages before adulthood. Wow. How much would you pay for that? Priceless!

I am so busy right now thinking about ways to play with language. Please let me know what languages you know, would like to learn, or think would be beneficial to the next generation.

Be Well



9 thoughts on “Language Updates

  1. Please tell me what I’m doing wrong. I have entered my email address more than once on this very page to subscribe to your blog, but have not received anything. So I return to your website to read your blog when ever I remember to do it.
    Thank you. 8~)

  2. Do you have any family recipes that you and your family love and use often? Please share them with us. 8~)

  3. I have no idea but I have a blog tech looking at it now. I feel like there are many people that are not getting my updates. I WILL look into it. Thank You so much for coming back. I will correct the issue.

  4. Tara,

    What a great mother you are. I enjoyed reading about your children’s progress in two languages.

  5. Very interesting my daughter will hopefully be bilangual in Japanese and French and know some English . She talked a little English before speaking a word of japanese thanks to dvds and cds. I don’t think it is a problem to introduce a third language as long as it is fun 🙂

  6. You mentioned something about teaching your eldest to read, and difficulty with teaching reading in English.
    When my niece was 6, she reminded me of the 4 rules we all learned in school, and so internalized them that we have forgotten that we use them daily.
    Long vowels.
    A as in pay
    E as in me
    I as in pie
    O as in so
    U as in cute
    Short vowels
    A as in pat
    E as in wet
    I as in sit
    O as in hot
    U as in cut

    3most basic rules:
    Start with the vowel and count two spaces after it to find out how to pronounce it:
    vowel-consonant-vowel equals long
    Mate Pete dine tote cute
    Mated Peter diner toted cuter

    Vowel consonant end of the word equals short
    Mat pet din tot cut

    Vowel consonant consonant equals short
    Matted petter dinner totted cutter

    When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking
    (The first one says its name, the second is silent)
    Wait meat pie coat fruit
    Pay. Weird dye toe blue

    With the first 3 rules you cover about 89 % of English and establish your reason for mispronouncing things in other languages (it is their fault the spelled stuff that way, an did not use our phonics)
    Add the 4th rule and you are at about 96% of all English (that just leaves the irregular words, but makes them sound more manageable)
    Try these out. You will probably begin to remember them. It seems that only first grade teachers and first graders know them, although we all have internalized them to the ointment that we easily read, although we can’t remember how we know how. Funny. Hope this helps.

  7. I just some how happened upon your article in the Japan times about how you met your husband and I laughed out loud (really, out loud, not LOL) at least 5xs.
    I am Japanese American, born and bred in San Francisco and my husband is Italian and we’re moving to Tokyo in January with our three year old son. Our little guy speaks only Italian with his dad, English with me and will going to a school in Japan to a dual immersion program (Japanese and English) so I found this article really interesting. I think language is a gift as well and I’m excited to see what language my son picks to learn in school someday. I’m hoping it’s Spanish as I hope we end up back in CA at some point before I die. HA. Anyway, I just wanted to say I’m enjoying your posts — thank you!!

  8. I love your blog! I am a sansei and part Japanese (mixed mostly with German) and always wished I had gown up speaking Japanese. Japan has always been is a large part of my family culture. Sadly, my grandmother didn’t really teach her children the language, so while I took it in high school and college, I have never become fluent — only basically conversational. My husband and I are hoping to raise our future children with Japanese and English as he is also very interested in the language. How wonderful for your children to grow up with three languages! It will prove useful, I am I sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *