Language Challenge 180: Week 3 Check-In

by Corey · 52 comments

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Congratulations! You made it through Week 3! How did it go? We hope you were able to stay motivated all week long! Did you do at least a little bit each day for yourself and/or your child(ren)?

Did you go to the Language Page(s) or Multilingual Living Forum and make contact with other families? Here is your chance to find others who are just as excited as you and your family are with language learning.

How’s Your Speech Perception?

How did your pronunciation practice go this week? Did you give it some extra attention? Listening and repeating, listening and repeating is the key. Even if you think you sound horrible at first, don’t worry! Just keep practicing.

When I took German language classes at the Christian Albrecht Universitat in Kiel, Germany many years ago, one of the classes that I had to take was one where all we did was practice pronunciation. A whole class just for this!

Each day a triad of teachers would work with us, moving our mouths into different positions and giving us tips on how to position our tongues. It felt like a mild form of torture at the time but looking back at it now, I am so glad that I took that class for as long as I did. My accent isn’t near that of a native speaker, but that class made a big difference.

At the beginning of the class, the teacher would say different letters but they all sounded exactly the same to me! An o-umlaut versus a u-umlaut was identical to my ears. Or, at the very least, there was no way I could make them come out of my mouth properly. They sounded like regular u’s and o’s. But over time (what felt like a long time) things started to change and I did start to hear differences. And I even started to be able to pronounce things correctly!

Of course, had I learned the language as a child, I would most likely be speaking German with a native or near-native accent. For us adult learners, on the other hand, it takes a lot of work (and we will most likely still have a thick accent). However, the goal need not be to lose our accent altogether. Instead, it should be to make ourselves as understandable as possible in the target language.

Focus on enunciation, rhythm and fluidity over and over again. Practice will make perfect! And remember, we all enjoy a lovely accent!

Getting Past the Saddle

Many of you (and your children) have been learning languages for a long time. You have reached a level of language mastery that feels very comfortable and is infused with a sense of relative confidence. However, you know that you still make lots of mistakes and you aren’t always sure that you will understand (or be understood) in all situations. When you try and work on the language, you don’t seem to know where to start or how to improve. What to do? What to do?

Aaron Myers from The Everyday Language Learner has written us a wonderful post about our situation and what to do about it. There are ways to move past this plateau. There really are. Aaron will show you how.

Today’s Check-In Activity

Note: You can only enter this week’s giveaway if you are (1) signed up for Language Challenge 180 and (2) completed the week’s check-in below

  • Check-In Activity: In the comment section below, tell us why you/your children are focusing on the target language(s).
    Maybe you are passing on your native language? Maybe you are learning a language that you have always wanted to learn? Maybe you are focusing on a language that you learned a long time ago but then forgot about? Or maybe you helping your child learn a language that he/she as requested to learn it?
  • Giveaway: After you leave a comment below, head over to today’s giveaway and enter! You are now qualified!


Don’t forget to visit the Multilingual Living Forum to ask a question, start a discussion or give someone else some support. You do NOT have to log in to post there. We encourage you to check out the Language Challenge 180 section as well as the other sections.

Keep an eye out for your next email which will arrive on Monday!

1 Katina March 23, 2012 at 2:03 am

My family is learning Spanish because I love languages and really want to get my children to embrace new languages. I have several friends learning Spanish now and it is the perfect opportunity to help them, too so this is more than just my immediate family. We are working together as a group of about 5 different families and helping each other with the tips that we are learning. This is great and my children are really starting to use the language and a little everyday concept is wonderful.

2 Sarolta March 23, 2012 at 4:15 am

We are keeping the mother tongue alive.

3 Jenny March 23, 2012 at 4:19 am

We are focusing on learning French because that is the language that I know best, so I am best able to teach it to my children. I lived in West Africa for a couple years and hope some day my kids will be able to go to West Africa as well and use some of the French they have learned.

4 Audrey March 23, 2012 at 4:30 am

I am teaching my children Spanish and have been using the comments on this site to tune the appropiate dvd’s etc. I am re learning French that I studied a long time ago. I am finding it hard to fit everything in in the week. Next week I will try and download some French podcasts and watch more French tv. I tend to switch into Spanish because it is easy and my favourite language.

5 Amanda Kendle March 23, 2012 at 5:11 am

We’re focusing on German because my husband is German and we want our son to be able to talk to all his relatives back in Europe in their native tongue. Well, that and the opportunity to be bilingual is too good to pass up, of course!

6 Becky Smith March 23, 2012 at 5:24 am

We’re learning Russian because we live in Central Asia and that is one of the languages there. My children have attended Russian school and will continue to in the future (right now, we’re in America for the year). It’s been really surprising to me how difficult it is for my children to learn the language. . . . and how difficult it has been to motivate them. In fact, the only way I could think to motivate them to learn a local language (Russian is only one of them), was to put them in school where they had to know it to survive!

7 Crystal Farmer March 23, 2012 at 5:28 am

We’re learning Russian because I have studied it since high school, and I have a degree in it. I don’t have any family connections to Russia, but I like to say I have a Russian soul! It’s a beautiful language and a quirky culture.

8 Michelle March 23, 2012 at 5:38 am

I’m teaching my kids Afrikaans, since that is the language we use to communicate in our house, and the language they have to use with all family: grandparents, cousins, aunts. We’re also all learning Spanish, since our youngest is in an Immersion program and we need to keep up with her! I love being able to understand more of the conversations around me, and talk to people in Spanish, because we live in a Michigan town where Spanish is spoken a lot.

9 Anna March 23, 2012 at 5:40 am

My family and I are working on Spanish for several reasons. Two of my 3 daughters are in a dual language program. One is 3 and in full immersion everyday, the other gets 50% of her instruction in 1st grade in Spanish. I have had some kind of Spanish instruction since I was 7, but very far from fluent. I am also one of the coordinators of the Dual Language program my child participates in. I need the Spanish to better communicate with the families and students. My husband and oldest daughter are learning because we are and because they are supporting our 1st grader who doesn’t always want to be in Dual Language.

10 Kenneth March 23, 2012 at 5:44 am

I am learning Spanish because 1. My wife is puerto rican and 2. We live in a highly populated hispanic area and I want to be able to communicate with mis suegos and other mis vecinos. I also want to broaden my knowledge of other cultures. Oh, and I just love learning new things.

11 Tye March 23, 2012 at 7:10 am

So, my family and I are working on Spanish. The kids are 9 and 10. So, relatively we have been working on this language a long time. I fell in love with the Spanish language when I was about their age. I just loved the rhythm, music, sound, and culture associated with the language. The kids still don’t see how the language is relevant in their lives since Spanish is not a heritage language us.

And, I want to learn Italian because I would like to add another language to my belt. But, this is proving difficult because the usefulness of it in our demographic is almost nil.

Interestingly enough my son has requested to learn French. So, I found him a few YouTube videos to watch,

12 Seana Parker-Dalton March 23, 2012 at 7:42 am

We’ve read/listened to French since my kids were born (not that they’re proficient at all, I’m not a native speaker & we’ve never been around any). We are all now beginning to work on Spanish, as well, since it’s just a really good language to know,and there are so many resources available.

13 JenneferJ March 23, 2012 at 7:46 am

Why are we studying Japanese? Honestly, because I was/am bored and needed a challenge. I also wanted to get out and meet people who were interesting and anyone so far away from home is interesting. It is being successful beyond my wildest dreams on those counts. So, I guess, even if I am not speaking Japanese fluently I am achieving my goals.

14 Heather March 23, 2012 at 8:04 am

My kids and I are working on Spanish because I already have a working knowledge of the language, and there are many opportunities practice in Las Vegas.

15 Monika March 23, 2012 at 9:28 am

I’m working on Italian and passing it on to my daughter. I lived in Italy as a kid and have such fond memories of the culture, the people, the food (!!)… and I already have a working knowledge of the language, which really helps. Plus, it’s beautiful!

16 Thea March 23, 2012 at 9:50 am

We are learning German in part because it is our heritage language.

17 Isabelle March 23, 2012 at 9:53 am

We are focusing on French as I am from France and my 3 years old has made so much progress over the past month! We have increased our exposure with music, reading books and playing board games!

18 Zsofia March 23, 2012 at 10:19 am

Hungariann is my mother tongue. I am the third generation to pass it on.

19 Cynthia H March 23, 2012 at 10:20 am

During a high school choir trip to Italy I fell in love with all things Italian. The language is so beautiful! I have taken my son there twice now, and he shares my passion, so we are learning together.

20 Mikayla March 23, 2012 at 10:27 am

Spanish is the most common foreign language in my area. Learning it helps my students understand and appreciate the Hispanic culture of the Spanish-speakers in our area. It also opens up job opportunities.

21 melissa March 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm

My son and I are learning Portugese because my husband is Brazilian and we will need it to communicate with his family who we just found out are coming to visit us here in new zealand at the end of the year. Also we intend to live there for some time in the future. And like Amanda said above the opportunity to be bilingual is to good to pass up!

22 LJ March 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm

We are working on Dutch language and culture, so that our kids are exposed to more than one while they grow up, and learn to value language and diversity.

23 Jo-Anne March 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm

I am learning German (beginner level)as my husband is German . I am also trying to refresh the mandarin I studied in university and teach it to my son. As an adult I found the tones difficult so I think it is important to expose children at an early age.

24 Lucy Windevoxhel March 23, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I have taught my daughter Spanish because it’s my native language. I am currently teaching her to read in it because I want her to be biliterate as well. I think reading will help her to continue expanding her vocabulary in our native language. We are TRYING to learn Italian, because that’s my father in law’s native language and we want our daughter to be able to embrace all her roots!

25 Kim @ The Educators' Spin On It March 23, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I am learning Hindi because my husband in from India and I want my children to be able to communicate with their dad, grandparents and aunts and uncles in Hindi to feel connected and embrace their Indian Heritage.

26 Denisa March 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I am focusing on teaching Slovak to my son (it’s my mother toungue).

27 Amy March 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I am working on Lebanese Arabic because I will be moving to Lebanon in two months’ time for my husband’s job. I am happy to say that my kids (who are trilingual) are enthusiastic about taking on the challenge of another language, and they had their first lesson with a tutor this week as well! Naturally, the pronunciation is coming much easier for them than for me! But I’m doing my best…..

28 Karolena March 23, 2012 at 8:23 pm

I am passing on Spanish to my son because I have always loved languages and, having worked to acquire it myself, I treasure the knowledge and want to share that with my child. As I’ve told some friends who don’t quite understand why I, a non-native speaker, speak Spanish with my son, it’s like with anything a parent cares about. If a parent has a passion for race cars or sports, they share that passion with their child.

As for why I study Arabic for myself, I just enjoy it. I chose Arabic because I had some exposure to the language when I visited Egypt years ago and I love the way it looks. The letters fascinate me and the language is so different from English and Spanish. I enjoy the challenge. And yes, I also read and sing songs with my son in Arabic.

29 Joe March 26, 2012 at 2:41 am

Karolena, I think that is great that you are encouraging your son to speak Spanish. It’s a booming language! What specific things are you doing? I’m glad you are singing and reading. Do you need resources for your son in Spanish?

30 Francesca March 24, 2012 at 2:37 am

My son Giulio is only 15months old.
I’ve decided to speak with him english since he was just few weeks old.
Books, nursery rhymes, short conversations, audiobooks and son on.
Meanwhile my english is really improving (OR THIS IS WHAT I LIKE TO THINK πŸ˜‰ since I’ve learned it at school and I’ve never practiced it a lot. I’m curious about the moment in which Giulio will start to speak (He is always with italian-speaking people) …. …..
Anyway, without the web this adventure would have never begun (non sarebbe mai cominciata).

31 Dimitra March 24, 2012 at 9:58 am

Im teaching my daughter Greek because I want her to be able to talk to her family in Cyprus and be able to go there and have no problem. Its Greek culture to know your own language and I want her to know it to plus as I already know it will be easier for her to learn it and with all family around and when at school I found learning French easier because of my Greek background and I hope when she learns a language at school her Greek knowledge will make learning anothe language a little moe easier (“,)

32 MamaInArabic March 24, 2012 at 11:38 am

I’m working on Lebanese Arabic because this is the language we use in our family and I am not fluent yet. Also, I love Arabic and how much more I can enjoy my husband’s culture when I understand its language.

33 Kristiana Withers March 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm

My family is learning French. I learnt German for 7 years at school but hardly did any speaking (it was mostly out of the textbook) so I can’t really speak it now. Then when I went to Uni, I had to do a year of phonetics and a year each of German, French and Italian. The French teacher spoke French to us all the time and I fell in love with the language. I’ve been wanting to be able to speak it ever since then. My children now attend a school that teaches French (and I’m now one of the teachers!). I also have a heart for mission work in Burkino Faso in West Africa where French is spoken. I hope to go there one day.

34 Dolinda March 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I would like my daughter to learn French because both my husband and I love French. I am originally from the Netherlands so we visit Europe at least once a year. My dad is fluent in French plus they spend about 6 months out of the year in French speaking Switzerland. I also have an aunt and uncle that live in Paris that we like to visit. I will also work on Dutch some but there are very few resources available online in the US and I think in the long run French would be more useful. even if she does not become fluent in either French or Dutch at least she will have some knowledge to get her by.

35 Linda M March 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I’m learning Spanish. I started because I wanted to be able to help my kids when they have to study it in middle school. My daughter starts this autumn so I thought I’d get a head start πŸ™‚

I’ve tried to get my kids on board with it as well but as they are already busy with biligual schooling (Norwegian/English) the Spanish tends to be forgotten a bit sometimes.

Also, even though I started learning because I wanted to be able to help, I am more and more learning it for my own benefit, because I have completely fallen in love with the language πŸ™‚

36 Margareta March 25, 2012 at 5:32 am

I am passing my native language, Slovak, to my daughter. So far we have been doing really well and it is the natural choice for us when we communicate. She recently started Kindergarten though and I am conscious of the effect this will have on her two languages. So I am staying focused and making sure we keep up Slovak. I would hate to lose the very special bond we share.

37 Wendy March 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Hi Margareta,

That’s interesting that your native language is Slovak. People tell us my husband’s last name is Slovak (Hratko), but no one in his family has spoken it since his grandfather moved to the US many years ago. No one kept up the language (nor did they attempt to keep up Swedish, which was on my grandmother’s side of the family). Now we’re working on Spanish, since at least we’ve had some exposure to that language.


38 Dianne March 25, 2012 at 8:06 am

I grew up around a Spanish speaking environment and loved the culture and fun it was and would love to pass that on to my kiddos.

39 Maria Jesus March 25, 2012 at 9:23 am

We are learning English because I love it. It can be really useful in travels and also at work. It’s wonderful to be able to communicate with different people in different languages!!

40 Maria Iskenderoglu March 25, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I’m focusing on Turkish because I live in Turkey and have a Turkish husband. I work all day teaching English and then come home to speak English with my daughter and husband.
I can go to the doctor by myself and shop. I took a placement test a few months ago and I am still at a low level- A3. I would like to more independent and have better grammar when I speak.
For my daughter (we are focusing on English) it is somewhat of the same reason. We live in Turkey and she hears Turkish all day long with most people and Turkish at home with her Baba. I want her to be able to easily communicate with my family and to have equivilant reading and writing skills as the same age child in the US.
I’m actually beginning to understand more of her home work assignments but she still hates it when I speak Turkish to her.
We did not quite have a day of Turkish this week, but it is the closest we have come.
I’m feeling somewhat positive about my ability as I have just met some new people who have no knowledge of Turkish at all.

41 Wendy March 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm

We’re working on Spanish because I took some classes in high school, and there are opportunities to practice in our area. My daughters also have a 1/2 hour class once a week in their elementary school and an after school class on Fridays. I also think the language is beautiful and hope to be able to take more trips to Mexico and to Spain someday to be able to speak it there.

42 Terra March 25, 2012 at 7:30 pm

My son is learning Spanish to better communicate with his family. I’m improving my Spanish because I lovete the language and I’d love to have more meaningful conversations with my in-laws.

43 Mary Kay March 26, 2012 at 12:33 am

We are focusing on Bambara because it’s the mother tongue of my husband, and when my daughter goes to Mali, it’s the language she needs in order to communicate with her family. This weekend, she had a sleepover with a close family friend from Mali and got to hear Bambara mixed with English all weekend. I was hoping to hear some new words from her, and I have, but mostly in English, which is also a big step for her. She’s really starting to put words together into thoughts and sentences. Very cool.

44 Paola March 26, 2012 at 1:20 am

I’m focusing on English because I love it and I think that is an important resource for travelling, enjoying music, reading books, articles (especially on the internet) and we are planning to go to spend one year in the US sometimes in the future as a family adventure/experience…
I’m working on Italian with my son and husband because it is my mother tongue and we live in Spain; my husband can speak Italian and we decided some years ago (when I was pregnant of my 1st son) to switch into Italian like family language…

And then I love languages and cultures…I dream about an intercultural society.

45 Johanna Van Schalkwyk March 26, 2012 at 1:29 am

We’re focusing (or trying to, at least!) on Afrikaans since it’s my mother tongue. Some years ago I read a quote in the Multilingual Living magazine, where a mother said she wanted her children to learn her mother tongue because she wants them to know “the real me”. At the time, since I am bilingual, I had been considering switching to English because my daughter has auditory processing difficulties. But I came acrosss the quote and it changed my whole perspective (thank you, Corey!). Even though I constantly have to explain/discuss/defend choosing to talk my mother tongue here in a rather linguistically reserved Iceland, I don’t regret this decision at all. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy hearing my children use Afrikaans despite a lack of exposure to other Afrikaans speakers!

46 Joe March 26, 2012 at 2:23 am

Why are my children(students) and I focusing on the target language? Well, the answer is simple: language maintainence & promotion of bi-lingualism & bi-culturalism. Each of these components are essential ingredients to an successful bilingual. I work with my students daily (as an ESL teacher in Dual Language “Two-Way” classroom) to promote these language practices and attitudes towards second language learning. Some things I’ve recently done to focus on the target language is incorporate TPR (total physical response) activities strategically into my teaching. TPR is defined as specific use of actions that accompany key vocabulary & phrases in the target language. The kids love it! I will post my research below to those interested participants

47 Joe March 26, 2012 at 2:36 am is one of the sites I’ve used, enjoy!

48 Rashauna H March 26, 2012 at 10:34 am

Spanish has been a language that both my husband and I have used for either work or casual conversations with friends so we’d like to continue learning as a family and speak it with our daughters. For me, I enjoy French and I hope to make time to begin learning it again as it was the first foreign language I began learning as a child.

49 Mammamaman March 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm

I’m passing on French and Italian to my daughter because I want her to be able to speak with my side of the family (all living far away, so thank goodness for skype!!). I’m also trying to “inspire” my husband to keep up his efforts to pass on his Spanish πŸ™‚
As for my reason to study Chinese? Well it’s a tonal language just like my father’s language, and as I cannot find Fang courses (either in person or that include audio, only dry old-fashioned grammars) learning Chinese seems a fun way to exercise my ability to hear “tones” πŸ™‚

50 Elizabeth March 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm

German, because it’s the language of our ethnic heritage and one that I can speak competently enough (but not fluently, alas) to pass on to my kids

51 Natalie Springuel March 28, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Passing my native language, french, onto my kid!

52 Tracey April 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm

My focus is to make Spanish my primary language with my children as I know that in a few months time there will be little other input for them and I also know that they will be tempted to give it up for English if all their new friends and family are speaking English.

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