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My stepson is a six-year-old native Japanese speaker. When my wife and I first met and as we started getting more serious in our relationship, we didn't put a whole lot of effort into attempting to teach him English. Every time the topic was broached he was very adamant about not learning it.

At the same time we got married, I also legally adopted him. If there came a point where my wife, his mother, who speaks Japanese and English, was unable to be with us for a long period of time and I needed to convey something to him that was important, I would most likely need to do it English.

I am already actively learning Japanese. I take regular certification tests to note improvements and while I am a little more than conversational, I am still not quite there yet. With what I am about to ask, please keep in mind, I will continue to learn Japanese.

We have discussed this and my wife and I believe it is time that he does indeed begin to learn English. The kindergarten he goes to is already an English speaking school and he takes an hour long English program every couple of days at the same school. On top of that, I would also like to teach him at home, starting with the alphabet.

I informed him that I would begin teaching him next week and he was not so thrilled about that idea. This is not a debatable matter. Our parents had us go to school to learn about math and science and then when we got home, taught us how to clean our rooms, brush our teeth, and make our beds; all these things were a necessity. We both believe this is a necessity, not an extracurricular.

The question is: how do I coax my son to learn English while making him a willing participant?

I don't want to go the route my parents or so many other parents take when "encouraging" children to do better in school by grounding them or taking things away. This will only push him further away from wanting to learn.

At the moment, he watches a lot of T.V. Probably too much, but that's a separate issue. I was thinking of starting during the time that he watches T.V. If I take this time away though, he will be mad and discouraged from studying with me. If I don't take the time away though, we won't have very much other time to study (by the time I get home, he's already home). Does anyone have any thoughts?

Update Time:

It's been a month since I asked this question and I took a fair amount of advice from most of the questions and I have to say, we've made substantial progress; more progress than I could have ever expected.

First of all, from Stephie's answer, I stopped speaking Japanese completely and went full English. At first he continually asked me "Hey, why are you speaking English now?" but he always engaged and never ignored me. Coupled along with this answer and several other answers/comments that suggest make spending time together fun with me, I found a common activity we can do together. MineCraft!

We both really love video games and MineCraft is something we can both play, and enjoy ourselves. Since I used to play consitently for 2 years straight, I understand a lot of the mechanics of the game. This allows me to explain things to him in English while still having fun. It takes a lot of pantomiming and pointing to my portion of the screen but it works for the most part. The game also encompasses a lot of vocabulary used in the real world so it really helps when we aren't playing too!

I also noted T.E.D.'s answer and put that in the back of mind to acknowledge. Perhaps with a little one on the way, he is worried about losing some love. Mama has continually reassured him that it won't happen and I'm doing more actions that show I love him unconditionally rather than just saying it.

Also some answers noted to get out more with other English speakers. We went camping with another couple like us, English-speaking husband, Japanese-speaking wife and their daughter. My friend spoke to him in English only and we all had a good time. My son even started calling me daddy after seeing my friend's daughter say it to her daddy :-) He doesn't do it consistently but every time he does it makes me pretty happy.

Everyone, thank you for the advice and I will also welcome more answers as our progress continues. Removing the pressure and just having fun has gone a long way.

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    How does he react to you just USING some simple English with him? "Come here, please", "Would you like an apple", and things like that? – Layna Sep 7 '17 at 10:03
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    @Layna although sometimes I use phrases I know he understands, most of the time he pretends to not know what it means and asks for it in Japanese. Sometimes he genuinely doesn't know and he gets an inquisitive look on his face and kind of shrugs and says "I don't know" – SomeShinyObject Sep 7 '17 at 10:08
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    If he likes TV so much, why not try and get him interested in TV shows that are in english? – Pyritie Sep 7 '17 at 11:48
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    @fkraiem the OP clearly stated that he's actively learning Japanese. And compared to English, most languages are more difficult to learn, especially Japanese, with its totally different grammar concepts. I see no hint of that "American superiority" cliche here. Many parents choose to raise ther children bilingual and there are studies that suggest children benefit from that. And I think having two imperfect communication channels is better than one, at least right now, while both are learning. – Stephie Sep 8 '17 at 4:53
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    What is the use of you taking the task of teaching him the alphabet since he is in an English speaking school? In my opinion you would get a lot more collaboration if you changed approach, from "teaching" (as if it were a school subject) to "conveying" or "helping him acquire". You would probably get a lot less resistance. Anything involving natural immersion (boardgames in English, having English speaking peers over, music, books) will get you a lot further a lot faster than pen an paper. Relax, and play together. Exposure at this age is crucial; provide him with input, let it come naturally. – iulia Sep 8 '17 at 14:36

15 Answers 15

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Yes, I do have another idea.

Most sources agree that immersion is the best way to really learn a language. So bringing your son to a school where English is the primary language is a good start. Dedicated lessons at home sound somewhat superfluous and I can see why your son resists.

You are in the rare position of being able to teach English as a (presumably native?) speaker. And have tried to talk to him in that language. So my recommendation is that you turn into the parent who speaks only English. And while in the beginning you understand answers in Japanese, this should end at some point. Use your wise judgement to determine when your son should be capable of switching to English. Be patient, repeat, explain in simpler words, use pantomime, everything is fine. And only if you really, really can't get something across, a word or two in Japanese may be ok in the beginning.

So far, this is just the standard recommendation for bilingual parenting.

But I have one strict limitation: Do not, as tempting as it may be, use the conversation to correct your son's attempts at speaking. React like you would for toddlers learning to speak: if you feel the urge to correct, either bite your tongue or gently ask for clarification by repeating the correct phrase. The child will almost automatically switch to "proper" language once it has heard and used it enough.

And of course it might be necessary to make spending time with you super alluring - find projects, go on outings, everything to make you the fun and preferred parent for a while. So the "I don't know?" of now starts to bug him and he tries to understand and participate in breaking down the language barrier. Plus you might have to remove mom from the scene. All parties know that she would be the perfect translator plus the emotional anchor whilst you are the "new one". This should give you enough practice soon, so that if your wife is really unavailable, you two boys will manage just fine.

In short: Be a partner who happens to speak another language, not a disturbing factor who wants to pressure him into some new form of exercise.


Oh, and I'm not saying that there should be no discipline. I'm with you as far as household chores and school stuff goes. I just advise against opening another, totally unnecessary potential battlefield of conflicts.

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    From the reverse of this, our professor took this exact approach teaching English speakers Japanese. He told us at the beginning of class that this was the last time he would use English in the classroom, and immediately launched into asking us simple questions and helping us figure out the answer in Japanese, without ever resorting to English or understanding us if we used it ourselves. – Marisa Sep 7 '17 at 11:18
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    When we adopted our Chinese speaking son (at 5 years old), I would use the Chinese word (if I knew it) and then the English word (or phrase). I gradually switched to all English (I am not a native Chinese speaker). When he used English, I would not correct him, but would provide the correct pronunciation and grammar as part of my response: "I hungry" "I'm hungry also. Do you want an Apple?". He now speaks fluent English. – Guy Schalnat Sep 7 '17 at 13:11
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    Another possibility for immersion is that since you and your wife both speak English, you set one or two days a week where you both only speak English, including to your son. Let him know that you're doing it for yourselves, but he's welcome to join in. Since he's already resistant, I wouldn't force him to join you in speaking it, but at least speak it to him consistently. – Karen Sep 7 '17 at 13:28
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    I took French in high school. I remember being really disturbed that my teacher did not teach us the alphabet. I never said anything to him, but apparently my mother mentioned it to him at a parent/teacher conference. He laughed and explained "Babies don't learn a language by learning the alphabet first. The alphabet comes after they already know how to make the sounds and need to figure out how to show those sounds on paper." I would focus on getting him comfortable in the language first--the alphabet can follow on from there. – magerber Sep 7 '17 at 15:41
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    @SomeShinyObject I agree with Stephie both in answer and in comment on the alphabet. He needs to be a good speaker before it will be relevant to him to read (at his age). He'll let you know when he's ready for that. Also - I would add that if mom speaks English too, maybe you and she should communicate only in English (in his presence) as well as you being an English-only parent. Then he will get the demonstration from his mom, too. – MAA Sep 8 '17 at 5:55
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Having been in a similar family position (as the child) half a century ago, it's possible he's a bit possessive of his mother, and associates your English with losing her full attention and regard. In other words, the root of this issue may not be the language itself.

In my case, I believe I got over it once grade school rather than the home became my main social milieu. However, I still got a bit resentful when they'd go on vacations without me.

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    Exactly. Kids are curious. If they refuse something, there is probably a bigger reason. – Francesco Dondi Sep 7 '17 at 14:10
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    Also, if I might make a suggestion as an adoptee from a similar family arrangement, purge the word "step-son" from your (English) vocabulary. If it confuses people sometimes, tough shit. You didn't go through all that trouble to adopt the kid to still have to use that extra distancing syllable. Whether he realizes it today or not, giving him a real live father is a huge gift. Not every kid gets that. – T.E.D. Sep 7 '17 at 18:56
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    @T.E.D. Step-son is purged from my vocabulary completely. That one use of the word is for clarity alone. I love him as my own son and other than the language barrier, we get along great. – SomeShinyObject Sep 7 '17 at 21:50
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    @SomeShinyObject - Great! But really, even do it with other people. For instance, if pressed I may talk about when "my father adopted me". Yeah, technically that sort of wedges 2 timeframes in the same sentence, but the principle to me is more important. (And advice #2: Ignore shits like me who parentsplain things to you about your own kid. You're doing a great thing here.) – T.E.D. Sep 8 '17 at 19:59
  • If that's the concern: Pick a day of the week when both of you will speak English to one another and to your son, and expect him to respond in kind. If Mom is doing it too, then it's not a personal thing. Also, she should explain to him that being fluent in English (the international language for many purposes, including air traffic control) allows one opportunities in life that a monoglot is denied, and having a fluent father gives him an advantage to learn it better than most of his friends. – Monty Harder Sep 11 '17 at 16:07
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You could ask him to help you learn Japanese better. In order to explain things to you, he will have to speak some English, while at the same time the potential reward of you speaking more Japanese with him might be a more powerful motivation. (Additionally, this provides him with an opportunity to understand learning from the other side)

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    I have tried this approach before but even then, he speaks only Japanese. Maybe down the road if he gets comfortable speaking English we will be able to bounce vocabulary off of each other. – SomeShinyObject Sep 9 '17 at 3:31
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I can give you a few data points.

The first one is my son, to whom I spoke French since he was born. I am French, we lived in another country at that time, but I knew we would be back in France (and I love my language). He simply refused to talk to me in French. I saw that he understood but did not answer in French but in the language of the country we were in.

The second one is a friend: he is French-German, his wife is French. They live in France and he decided to speak German with his children so that they learn a language from start. They refused to speak German with him, answering in French.

My guess (based on these direct experiences, and a few indirect ones) is that the children feel that this is weird to speak with one parent a specific language different from the surrounding one when that parent could speak it too. One case where three languages were in play (husband was native A, wife native B, they used C as the communication language and lived in A. The children speaking B to his mother was not a problem).

My solution was to move to France - my son started to speak fluently French within 5 days (on the Friday of his first week at the kindergarten). Lesson learned: they refuse to use the language but it possible they know it.

My friend's solution was to continue. After a few complicated years the children gave up and speak German with him. Same lesson learned.

A couple of native French friends used to speak Italian between them when they did not want the children to understand (they were fluent in Italian). One day the father said to his daughter, by mistake in Italian, "can you please switch on the light?". She got up and switched it on. Parents put back their jaws after they have fallen on the floor.

All this to say: do not give up. The kid may very well understand you but find speaking English with you weird.

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    A six-year-old living in Japan likely doesn't understand the value of learning English, if he has not had the experience of being in an English-speaking country. As far as he is concerned, learning a foreign language is just a theoretically useful skill. Being thrown into an environment where English is required for communication would be a huge motivator. Even if you can't move to an Anglophone country, taking a vacation in an Anglophone country would likely do the trick. – 200_success Sep 7 '17 at 22:24
  • "if he has not had the experience of being in an English-speaking country." -- true, but more specifically expressing himself to friends or others, such as family members, in English. Anglophone friends could meet the need without needing to visit another country. – CynicallyNaive Sep 9 '17 at 2:04
  • I think your final point sums it up best. He might find it weird. I will attempt to alleviate that by making it seem normal to speak with me in English. – SomeShinyObject Sep 9 '17 at 3:32
  • @CynicallyNaive You can't force him befriend anyone — especially an Anglophone, with his current attitude. – 200_success Sep 11 '17 at 5:13
  • @SomeShinyObject: good luck. It took a lot of perseverence to achieve that but it is definitely worth the effort. – WoJ Sep 11 '17 at 5:57
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The child needs incentive to learn. Only speak English and have great quality time with him. Go out together, cook together, have a hobby together, just make sure you're doing it together and only speak English when you do. The real world is better than sitting and flash cards, but you may find word games are also great after being able to speak the language a bit.

Don't be suprised if he understands you before being able to speak the language, as comprehension is the first step to learning the language at all.

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"Gamification". We had a Japanese "wwoofer" ('Willing Workers On Organic Farms") staying with us some years back, and played cooperative scrabble - we all worked together to find the different possible (and highest scoring) words in every player's set of tiles. She found this both fun and a great way to increase her vocabulary. When I was doing a Language learning exchange with an older Japanese woman, I had her try all the tongue twisters I could come up with, as a pronunciation exercise. "Round and round the ragged rocks the rugged rascal ran", "She sells sea shells by the sea shore", etc.
There are whole websites (an industry, even) now about research and application of gamification to learning, so I'm sure there are plenty of other ways to make the process fun, engaging, and effective.

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Immersion is the most effective way to learn, and it sounds like your son enjoys watching television.

So my suggestion is to allow him a set amount of Japanese television per day (30 minutes would be a good amount for example), and then a less limited amount of English television. He may be able to watch many of his favorite shows in English - for example, if he watches Pokémon, all but the most recent 15 episodes of the most recent series are available in English.

As to the root here - changing his mind as to whether he should learn it - that will undoubtedly take time. But television may well be a good tool in the toolbox for that, too; there may well be shows that catch his interest that originate in the English speaking world that he may choose to gain more fluency in order to watch. Some of those may not be (easily) available in Japanese translations.

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    +1 I would add that if you (OP) watch the shows with your son this will be even more effective. It gives you something to talk about (in English) and can be a bonding experience. Videos of stuff you remember from your childhood (movies, cartoons, even music videos) can also be a great way to bridge the generational gap, assuming it is appropriate to his interests and age. – 1006a Sep 7 '17 at 21:58
  • -1 The kid lives in Japan, and the language in Japan is Japanese. Restricting its use is preposterous. – user7953 Sep 8 '17 at 4:44
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    @fkraiem The question is "how do I teach him English". Here at Parenting we don't challenge the premise of the question in answers; you're welcome to disagree with the concept of teaching the child English, but that's something to take to chat. – Joe Sep 8 '17 at 14:34
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    I'll also note that I'm not suggesting eliminating his Japanese TV watching - or even restricting it beyond what I allow my children to watch now in their native language. 30 minutes is an entirely reasonable amount of television time for a six year old. The point is to allow him further television watching in English as it is something that he might enjoy but also serve an academic purpose, similar to allowing a child 30 minutes of Cartoon Network and then an hour or two of PBS/Discovery Channel/History Channel (back when those were useful academically anyway). – Joe Sep 8 '17 at 14:35
  • Consider English computer games too - that's how I learned a considerable part of my English skills. And (usually) it requires much less English knowledge to play a game than to read a book. – user31389 Sep 11 '17 at 14:37
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The Bilingual Family: A Handbook for Parents by Harding-Esch and Riley is a very good resource, built largely around case studies. The main thing I took away was a better understanding that there's no such thing as "doing it right," or at least that society's knowledge on the topic is not yet well developed to give a strong prescription for most situations. So, read what others have tried, reflect on it with your wife and son, and choose what looks best. But some idean are more likely to work, and I offer one....

Another relevant idea I took away was, children will learn a language when they feel a motivation to know it, and primarily this motivation comes through interacting with others. So find a playgroup, or try to build one, where he can make English-speaking friends. In fact, if he's at an English-speaking kindergarten, I'm unclear on why this isn't happening. But at least it suggests there should be children from native English speaking families, and others from different backgrounds, who might be open to playdates.

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You need to get your child get very interested in activities that require mastering the English language. Only then will your child want to learn it, given that learning English is by itself not something he feels very passionate about. Perhaps he can get into contact with children of his age who speak English fluently. Also at his age children start to get online, and the vast majority of the Internet is in English.

E.g. suppose that your child gets interested in Dinosaurs, then he'll want to read a lot about it. In this day and age the fasted way to access detailed information is via the Internet. He'll find that most information is in English and that translations by Google Translate often leads to erroneous translations. He'll have to fill in the gaps, and over time he'll want to be able to just read the original texts himself.

But interacting with friends of his age who have mastered the English language much better than he has, will also help a lot. If a friend who is also into Dinosaurs can just read the English text and explain things to him in Japanese then that will make learning English look like a lot more interesting thing to do for him.

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    -1 FYI Japanese is the language of one of the most advanced countries in the world; there is plenty of information available in it on every subject. – user7953 Sep 8 '17 at 4:41
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    @fkraiem Yes, but it seems that you have some work to do: "Jimmy Wales has pointed out at a conference that the Japanese Wikipedia is significantly more dominated by articles about pop culture than other Wikipedia projects, and according to one of his slides, as a New York Times journalist saw it, "barely 20 percent" of the articles on the Japanese Wikipedia were about anything else." – Count Iblis Sep 8 '17 at 23:28
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    @CountIblis 20% of Japanese Wikipedia is way larger than Encyclopaedia Britannica. You have a point that some (or a lot of) information is only available in English -and in a lesser degree that would be true for any language-. However, the amount of information only available in English that is useful for a 6 year Japanese kid is probably too small to be an strong motivation. Just to point an example, it would be different for a Japanese graduate student. – Pere Sep 9 '17 at 9:39
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    @CountIblis Are you aware that Wikipedia is not the only source of information in existence? It is, in particular, not very popular in Japan. – user7953 Sep 9 '17 at 11:03
  • "the vast majority of the Internet is in English" may be based on outdated research. – Acire Sep 10 '17 at 23:35
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Personally I would avoid, at least for the moment, trying to teach him language in a normal way, e.g. rules of grammar, etc., and focus more on finding things where the English language is fun and interesting. After all, many many people can speak English perfectly well without having the remotest idea what a pronoun is.

Equally if you use any sort of punishment/reward system, he will probably just associate English with being a necessary chore which requires the bare minimum of effort.

One thing to try might be books. The English language has an excellent tradition of really excellent children's books, many of which ranks as great literature in their own right, Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, etc., and many of them are available in illustrated editions which may help to bridge the language gap.

So it might be worth reading to him from these books and making the translation into some sort of game. Maybe look at the illustrations together and explain the story in Japanese and then introduce some English vocabulary.

  • I like the idea of the book reading, because it ends up benefiting both learners in the situation. The son might enjoy critiquing mediocre translations ;) but it would require him to have an understanding of the English content. – Acire Sep 10 '17 at 23:38
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By announcing "English Lessons", you'll be galvanizing him against you. I would simply speak to him in English. You'd be surprised how much more willing a participant he will be if you talk about things that are interesting to him -- like maybe going out to eat or to a movie. Figure out what is important to him and talk about it. It's a long road so pick your battles. These are cliches for a reason :) He will learn English no matter what if you and your wife speak to him strictly in English - there's no reason to force it. Maybe you can do a fun Dad and son thing once a week - like go to an English speaking movie or ball game. Your relationship is the most important thing so don't let this get in the middle of it.

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I am in a very similar situation myself. I live in Denmark and I want my kids to speak my language (Lithuanian) too. Things are going well with a two-year-old, but a five-year-old is very reluctant. I want to share with you what works for us and what does not.

  • Avoid school-like teaching. It is boring and alienating. As previous commenters have pointed out, babies don't learn language by learning alphabet. Leave teaching for school. At home, you have to have fun.
  • Sing small songs and rhymes, like the itsy bitsy spider. Even though it may seem that all your efforts are going to waste, the child memorizes the lyrics and the melody. I have been singing one of the rhymes for my son with no visible result for three years. And then, when I was singing the rhyme to his little sister, he came and sang the whole song with me. It has only happened once, but I know that he carries the rhyme with him. Same with music that we listen to: I sing along, and children try to sing along, too.

  • Language playdates. Children learn best from the other children. You are welcome to mediate their play and remind them to speak English. You may say to the children aloud, that even though your son doesn't speak yet, he understands perfectly - but only, if you are sure of this. This is a fine balance between pushing your child into something they haven't mastered yet, and encouraging as well as showing trust and respect. The wording "yet" is actually very important: https://youtu.be/J-swZaKN2Ic

  • Just play with your child. Some of the biggest breakthroughs for us have happened after some intensive playing. Just regular childrens games, like catch, home, going to the mall, building lego and talking about what you are doing.

  • It is OK to demand to say a few words or phrases in your language. For example: Good morning, good night, I'm thirsty. This way the child gets a clear idea of what you want from him, and a success feeling as well. Reward those English-moments with extra love (a smile, a hug, etc.). Some days it will go well. Other days, not so well. Don't get upset and don't make your son upset about that either. You'll do better next time.

  • Hack your current routine. Watch TV with your son and talk about what you see. At the end of the day, talk about what has happened. In the morning, talk about what will happen. While you are doing something, talk about what you are doing.

  • There is still a possibility that even though you do everything right, the child will refuse to speak to you in your language. That doesn't mean that you have to stop trying.

Good luck and don't give up.

0

And now for a rather extreme, but completely different perspective.

Below is the video of a young American woman who married a Japanese man and who moved in with his family in Japan.

See this video: https://youtu.be/lFMVPuwxLto?t=1m54s

This is the most extreme type of immersion you can find. Her ex-husband didn't speak English to her and his family couldn't speak English to her. Nor did she mix/interact with any non-Japanese speakers. And to make matters worse, both her ex-husband and his family didn't help her with any task that required Japanese, to make sure that she would have to learn the Japanese language as quickly as possible.

Again, this is a pretty extreme example, and that young woman is kind of crazy to have done something like that for a guy, but the plan itself kind of worked (the marriage itself didn't work, but at least she did become perfectly fluent in Japanese).

Now, I'm not saying you should do the same as she did, she's probably not the best role model. But let me add one more thought.

I read a book once, called "How to learn any language... something... something..." I do not remember the exact title of that book. And there are so many books with the same title on Amazon, I'm not sure which one it was. But it was written by a polyglot who spoke seven languages. His point was that adults could learn to speak a new language as quickly as any children could. The key was to do a complete immersion into the language.

One thing he recommended was to get hosted by a local family, but that by itself wouldn't necessarily work. Your host family must not know how to speak your language and must have no desire to speak your language. And local families with children are best. Children are the only strangers in the world that will keep on speaking to you in their native language, even if you don't understand a word of what they're saying. Also, children use simpler vocabulary, which makes it easier to learn and communicate in.

In other words, I know you do not feel that way right now, but I do believe that by teaching your son English, and by forcing him to attend that English Kindergarten school + that language class he's going to right now, I'm not sure that's enough English immersion for him to learn English very quickly or very well, and at the same time I think that you may be squandering a real learning opportunity for yourself.

Note that I say this as a French-born person who attended French schools in both France and the United States. French school in the United States was a real struggle for the American kids, and after a while, they would get left behind.

The one thing I would teach him though is pronunciation. Pronunciation learned early in life will train his ear and he'll be able to replicate that pronunciation much more easily later in life (according to research). For that, I'd recommend that you use movie and television shows. And that you train him by making him repeat, imitate, and memorize short quotes from some of his favorite movie/television characters. Don't limit him just to American-English, there are many types of accents in English, British-English, Australian-English, regional accents, even Russians speaking in English, French people speaking in English, etc., in addition to that, people have their own individual accents and mannerisms.

Personally, my initial objective would be to have him learn to replicate English sounds that Japanese people have real trouble saying, but that doesn't need to stop there. There are many sounds in other languages that even both Japanese and English speakers do not do at all. I would help him focus on those. This will give him an edge in any language he chooses to learn later on in life. But at the same time, it shouldn't be too much of a burden that it interferes with his Japanese education (which is difficult enough by itself).

0

Start with "swears" and other silly words

Not sure how culturally inappropriate it is in Japan, but most kids in my experience (China/USA) like to say "poop" and "underwear" and "butt" and other words. It is a silly topic for kids under 8, and they are anxious to repeat silly words.

Then, seg in to words with funny sounds like "banana" and "eggs eggs eggs" and "chopsticks!". It should be as silly as possible - and irresistible.

After a few weeks, add some verbs and adjectives. For example "smelly poop" or "big banana" or "eat eat eat eggs eggs eggs"

Meanwhile, never mention that this is English. Should just be silliness

0

The factual reality is that for children:

the only way to learn a language is to be "thrown in" to school in that language, in that country.

End of story.

The two salient points are:

  1. in 99% of cases, the children ("at first") utterly loathe this, and will be bitter with you for, well, their whole life afterwards

  2. after about a year they will speak the language more or less perfectly

There's no other way.

Simply move to perhaps England or Australia or Canada for a couple of years, and put the child in school there.

A couple of points regarding point (1). So, the child is going to be infuriated at you and the mother (forever) for doing this. Note that, this will have nothing, at all, to do with the divorce issue, stepfathering etc. If you are the most loving conventional family on Earth, everyone happy, and you have to move to a foreign country fro a few years (say, for business), this will happen: exactly as in point (1), the child will be infuriated at the parents (forever) for using the "throw them in the swimming pool" method to learn the second language. (There's no other way to learn.)

There is a point (3) that most such kids, when older, grudgingly accept that it is cool they can speak another language properly.

(In the vast majority of cases they just forget it after moving away, though.)

Again the unavoidable, absolute fact is just that:

  • The only way the child in question will learn English, is if you move to Australia etc. for a couple of years. "Throw them in" to the regular school there and that's it.

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