Language Challenge 101 – Week Fifteen

by Corey · 0 comments

Where Are We At?

How do I feel about our language learning as a family now that we have done it for 101 days?  Do I feel satisfied with where we are at?

The truth is, I am uncertain how I feel about our Spanish language learning.

On the one hand, I am so very proud of what we were able to do.  I can’t believe how much Spanish we learned in only 101 days!  It is truly amazing.  (Did I tell you that my German Physics instructor husband memorized Newton’s Laws of Motion in Spanish?  You can ask our friends Maria and Chris who witnessed my husband in action as he recited one.  Wow!)

Yet on the other hand, I feel that we should be able to converse more.  We can still only create simple sentences or repeat those that we have learned and use them in various contexts.  I believe this is more impatience than unmet expectations.  I just wish we were further along!  I want to be able to chatter away in Spanish now!

Here is an overall status of where we feel we are at:

  • We all can read most children’s books with an excellent degree of understanding.  Even if we don’t understand each and every word, we can almost always figure it out!
  • We speak simple sentences to one another throughout the day and we are able to answer with different (short) answers.
  • We love learning Spanish and encourage one another all the time (kids and parents).
  • We feel connected to different Spanish-speaking cultures on so many different levels.
  • We are familiar with many different resources for Spanish learning and utilize them continually: cyberspace, books, library, etc.
  • We feel that Spanish has become “our” language on some level.  As a family we unite around it and share it as a common bonding experience.

The Journey Continues

Although our Language Challenge 101 has completed, our Spanish language experience has only just begun.  I feel like we have a bunch of pieces of a puzzle in front of ourselves and although only a few are put together, we are getting the hang of it – we can see the picture that is forming from all of the many pieces.

I know that the key for us is daily consistency: a combination of using the Spanish we know plus adding in a bit more each and every day.

As I write this, it reminds me of the Bilingual Children with One Hour of Language a Day post.  Perhaps that is the next step?  To move from Language Challenge 101 to One Hour a Day Challenge?  Taking language learning from that first leap into more of a maintenance mode that can be maintained over time?  I have a feeling that this is how things will evolve.

Do It As a Family!

I cannot say enough about how fantastic it has been to learn a language as a family!  If I had been learning Spanish all on my own, I know I would have lost interest a long time ago.  Doing it as a family has meant that Spanish language learning is something we do both for ourselves as well as for everyone else in the family.  There is so much more need for me to learn Spanish when I know that every word and sentence that I learn, I learn it both for myself and so that I can then share it with my children and my husband (and they with me).  We do it for one another and with one another.

As I said that the beginning, my husband and children were not particularly on board.  But I started anyway and rather than demand that we all learn it, I enticed them with all of the fun ways that I wanted to learn it.  I pulled out DVDs that we had on hand (we love you Speekee and Whistlefritz and Bilingual Fun!) and then took fun, special trips to the library just to find Spanish resources.  We came home with armfulls of books, DVDs and CDs.

The thing to remember with a language like Spanish is that as there are so many resources, it is possible to learn it for free (remember Mi Vida Loca?).  Yes, we purchased Destinos but I haven’t gotten past the second chapter!  Instead we have found more online and library resources than we could have ever imagined.  Fantastic!

Remember that it is the time spent together with other human beings that has the most impact on our language learning!  There was an article in the New York Times on October 15th titled iPhone for Toddlers.  It was yet another article about how our young children are spending way too much screen time with iPhones and Smartphones (they are becoming addicted!).  Parents feel these devices are good since their children are engaging with “educational” programs.  However, the advice from experts is to cut down the screen time (TV, DVDs, iPhone, Smartphones, etc.) and increase the human interaction time!  Have we forgotten the whole Baby Einstein class action law suit so soon (how “educational” are these products aimed at our youngest members of society)?

Ok, that is it for this week.  Stay tuned for next week’s final Language Challenge 101 post.  Please share your experiences in the comments below!  It would be great to hear from all of you who did your own Language Challenge 101 adventure, those who enjoyed following our experiences, and those who started but didn’t get very far.  I’d love to hear your experience!

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 15, 14 and 12, in German and English.

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