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Parents Are Key
As I write this, I am manning the Language Lizard booth at WABE (Washington Association for Bilingual Education) convention. We just had a wave of people come by but now it is quiet while everyone attends a variety of presentations.
Educators from around the state are here sharing, discussing and learning about best practices in educating bilingual children (and no, that does not just mean children who speak Spanish!). It is wonderful to talk with people who deal with childhood bilingualism in its many forms day in and day out. A good bilingual teacher can make such a difference!
I have spoken with so many different people today, sat in on a few presentations and learned a ton. One teacher after another has shared stories with me about how desperate they are to encourage families to keep their home language strong. The stories I have heard have been heart-breaking as well as inspiring.
I can tell you with certainty that even though there are many teachers out there who support us in our efforts to help our children become/stay bilingual, they all agreed that parents are the key to this happening. Even though teachers would love to see more bilingual education opportunities out there for students, the reality is that most children will not be able to participate in one of these programs.
It is up to us to help our children maintain their home language(s) and/or learn new ones!
Talking to Ourselves
As for Language Challenge 180… How did this week go? Did you talk to your self in the target language all week long? While doing dishes? While driving in the car? While making dinner?
I know it may feel silly to talk out loud all of the time (regardless of language) but it will do wonders for: (1) your pronunciation and (2) your self-esteem. Talking out loud will also cue you into words that you aren’t familiar with (or word forms that you don’t know). If you start the sentence, “I will get the ….” and realize that you don’t know the word for “pan” then you now know about a word that you need to learn!
Keep Those Bilingual Kids Bilingual
So, even though your kids are still young, you have accomplished the impossible: They are bilingual, truly bilingual! They speak your home language fluently, the community language fluently and feel at home in both. Your work is done, right?
Helping our children become bilingual is the first step. Helping them stay bilingual is the real challenge!
Bilingualism is like a muscle: If you don’t use it, you will lose it. You have to keep up the language output and input from all sides to ensure that language mastery continues to develop and grow as your children develop and grow.
To help with this task, Aaron Myers from Everyday Language Learner shares his tips and suggestions in an interview with Susanna Zaraysky, the author of Language Is Music. You can find this interview in the post Fun Ways to Keep Your Bilingual Children Bilingual.
Today’s Check-In Activity
- Check-In Activity: In the comment section below, tell us something about you/your child(ren) in your target language.
For example, “My eyes are blue” or “My daughter likes to eat chocolate cake.” There is no pressure to write a lot – just write as much as you can! Use it for a writing exercise in your target language.
Note: If you are raising your children in your native language, then tell us in that language!
- Giveaway: After you leave a comment below, head over to the current giveaway and enter! The current giveaway is open to everyone, so tell your friends to check it out and enter!
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. And come check us out at Pinterest! We’d love to share with you there!
Keep an eye out for your next email which will arrive on Monday! Keep up the fantastic work!