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January 13, 2012
Dear Multilingual Living Friends, I don’t know about you but it has been very hard for me to get back into the swing of things after our relaxing holiday season. To make 2012 start off with a fizzle, on New Year’s Eve I had a fever and my husband was coming down with strep throat! (Don’t tell anyone but we still have our Christmas tree up! Can you believe it? Neither my husband nor I have mentioned it to one another, hoping that the other will take care of it.)While having my husband around during the holidays, one thing became very apparent: My German language skills are in serious need of an overhaul.I’m not talking a simple manicure here. I’m talking full-body makeover: hair, clothing, face lift, liposuction… you name it, my German needs it!
This became abundantly clear based on the number of times my husband patiently corrected my German during the weeks that he was at home. Even my oldest son was correcting my German! To put it mildly, I already knew my German was declining but was in relative denial about how severe it was. I did make some strides with Language Refresh 101 last year but that wasn’t enough. This lady needs a full-on language overhaul.
I know that I am not alone in this. A friend here in Seattle was telling me how she feels her own language confidence slip away – and she is a native speaker! Without the opportunity to interact with other speakers, it is darn near impossible to keep our languages fresh and crisp. It is no wonder the United States is known as the “graveyard of languages”!So I have two choices:
1) I just let things disintegrate as they may. I accept the fact that my German is what it is and that this is the natural progression of languages when they aren’t needed/used. How many times have Madalena, Prof. Grosjean and Fred Genesee reminded us of this? Duh! (I have to admit that this plan would be the easy way out!)
2) I put on my battle gear and plan out a full-frontal attack on my waning language skills. Rather than just dipping my toes in the water, this time around I will be preparing for a full triathlon. I’m going to get drenched!
As I’m sure you can guess, I don’t have much of a choice. It is going to have to be #2. And without a doubt, I am going to bring my children along for the battle. Of course I will. German is a team effort in our family. Part of the reason I keep it so strong is so that they can stay connected with family in Germany (and go to University there someday, of course!).
So, my multilingual friends. Whether you speak a native or non-native language with your children, I encourage you to join me in this effort. Unlike Language Refresh 101, this time around I am putting together a full and detailed 6-month plan ahead of time (my target goal is to have improved my language significantly before we head to Germany in the Fall). I am going to publish posts on Multilingual Living that focus on specific elements on keeping our home language alive (even you native speakers will benefit from these) and I am going to interview and highlight experts who can help us keep our languages strong.
Whether you think you need this or not, give it consideration: There aren’t many out there who keep their languages strong after living in another country for an extended time. Think of how many older people we know who have given up their native language – it actually became harder for them to maintain it. Let’s see if we can change that trend! No language graveyard for our family!
Stay tuned for more information and details. I hope many of you will are as excited about this as I am! I’m going to need your companionship during this journey! To start, you might want to review the 5 Steps to Multilingualism to get prepared for the trip.
The only catch is that the blocks must be sent to an address in the US since the cost of shipping overseas is too expensive.
Fantastic Exchange Program for Homeschoolers!
Homeschoolers: Looking for language immersion opportunities? En Famille International is a non-profit organization that has been organizing long-term cultural and linguistic exchanges for children ages 9-16 to France, Germany, and Spain for more than 30 years.
We know our parental role in making sure our language(s) stays alive in our household. But what about the role that our children play in teaching the language to younger siblings? Read this post to learn more about how this happens:
We often hear about the joys of bilingual homeschooling – spending quality time with our children, being able to do amazing things in the middle of the day, and the chance to make our home language stronger.
However, sometimes things aren’t as wonderful as they seem. Bilingual homeschooling can bring us to tears at times – and I’m not talking about tears of joy. Find out what a bad bilingual homeschooling day can bring to an already stressed-out mom:
Lose 20 lbs, exercise every day, eat better… the list goes on and on. New Year’s Resolutions are rarely created for the average human beings that we are.
This list of multilingual New Year’s Resolutions are for the rest of us because they are things we can do and are things that benefit the whole family! Get everyone onto the same page with these (and at the very least, start implementing #1 TODAY):
Did you know that it is extremely important to select the proper foods for ringing in the New Year? What will circular foods bring? What will bring you good luck and money in the southern US? Find out this and more in our post:
Want to read articles from the top experts in the field of bilingualism while supporting Multilingual Living? Then get your hands on the back issues of Multilingual Living Magazine! You will find more than answers in these amazing issues!
Here are just a few of the experts wrote for Multilingual Living Magazine: Colin Baker, François Grosjean, Jean-Marc Dewaele, Fred Genesee, Madalena Cruz-Ferreira, Jasone Cenoz, Aneta Pavlenko, Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert, Xiao-lei Wang, Barbara Zurer, Tracey Tokuhama-Espinosa, and many, many more!