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Same here with Finnish. My dad spoke no English until he was 6 and went to
the English only school. Now *everyone* in the school also could speak
Finnish, but not at school. It was a community decision that the children
should be taught in English and speak English at school. There were other
schools in the larger area (upstate Minn.) that used Finnish.
His first reading book was "The Little Red Hen." The teacher spoke the
words and pointed to the pictures. He said he just had to figure it out.
(Great cognitive practice, eh?) English is a very difficult language for
Finnish speakers to learn. It is very, very different.
At home he spoke Finnish (Finglish - a form of Finnish that developed in
the US) because my feisty grandmother spoke no English and she wanted to
understand everything that was spoken under her roof. My dad told me he
distinctly remembered a conversation he had with his brother and how he
marveled later that the whole thing had been in English. He was about 8 at
the time. He would speak the old language when we went to visit his
He said that he felt he was English proficient in the 3rd grade and went on
to post-graduate work becoming a school teacher and later a professional
politician. He passed away last June.
None of us kids speak Finnish. :( But with whom would I speak? My
Finlander cousins speak English.
Becky Lindroos Alexander