The ABCs of Multilingual Parenting: The Letter O

by Corey · 1 comment

O is for… Orientation.

Raising multilingual children is a journey. It’s nothing short of an amazing language adventure. As with any adventure, it is helpful to at least know in which direction we are headed: north, south, east or west. Is it over the mountains or through the plains? By boat or airline or foot… or maybe all three!

Have you read our Getting Started page? Have you answered the questions for the 5 steps? You should. You really should. They are all about orientation… your own, personal language journey orientation.

Here is a quick overview of the 5 Steps:

  1. The first step along the way is to figure out where we are headed. North, south, east or west?
  2. Step two asks the question of how we are going to get to where we are headed. The modes of transport are endless and there are many different ways to get to the same place!
  3. Step three focuses on the terrain. We need to understand the lay of the land along our route. What obstacles are we bound to face and how might we confront and resolve them?
  4. It is important that we make sure that we have all of the equipment and food that we’ll need along the way. We need to have the right gear to make the journey comfortable, fun and motivating!
  5. The last preliminary step is to decide the duration of our language journey. Are we going to travel for a year or a lifetime? The length of our adventure will determine how far we can go.

What about those of you who are already on your language journey? You too should take a moment to make sure you are oriented:

  • Are you where you thought you’d be at this point in the trip?
  • Are you still heading in the right direction?
  • Do you still wake up each morning ready to hit the trail?
  • What about your traveling buddies? Are they still on the journey with you?

Sure, you don’t have to have any idea of your orientation. It’s not a prerequisite for the journey. It’s fine to let the road lead you wherever it will. You don’t need to know exactly where you are headed every single moment of the day. However, having a general sense of direction can make the language journey an even more enjoyable adventure. It takes away a bunch of uncertainties and leaves you free to enjoy the adventure.

At the very least, make sure that you don’t end up in the desert without any water on hand. That mirage which just popped up over the next sand dune is lovely but it isn’t going to lead you to where you really want to go. Get oriented so that you can sit back and enjoy the ride!

We are going through the alphabet one letter at a time, multilingual-style! Join in the fun and add your own ideas, suggestions and tips in the comments below that begin with today’s letter! Check out all of the ABC’s of Multilingual Parenting posts so far!

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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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Jane McCall Politi June 1, 2011 at 7:28 am

Belly-laughing two year old.
My grandson is bilingual – as bilingual as a two year old can be!
A very funny things happened at dinner the other night when I was visiting my daughter (American and Italian) , her husband (American), and their son in Connecticut. My son-in-law, who doesn’t speak Italian, asked his son what the name for house was in Italian. The little one said with great pride ‘casa’. When his father mispronounced ‘casa’ while repeating it, his son cracked up with delight. Another 20 minutes of different words being mispronounced, this time on purpose, had us all doubled over with laughter.
This moment of family comedy was full of opportunities for my grandson to be proud and masterful, as well as experience the feeling that we all value and enjoy speaking Italian and English.


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