How was your family’s multilingualism in 2013? Did you feel like you made fantastic strides? Did you realize many of your goals? If so, wonderful! Keep up the great work in 2014! Don’t let yourself lose momentum!
For the rest of us, below are our Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014.
Let the countdown begin…
10. Spend more time with the kids. We say it all the time but how much down-time do we really spend with our children? Sitting next to each other quietly working on our own digital devices doesn’t count. Going for a leisurely walk together does. Sitting in front of the fire with a hot mug of cocoa counts. If you and your family love your digital devices, then find games that you can play together while talking together. No need to deprive you or your kids of fun – just find ways to have fun together in the same room interacting.
9. Read out loud. No matter how old our children are, we should be reading out loud to them every day/evening. We don’t have to talk about the details of the story each time. Just come together to enjoy the experience! Put together a list of books that everyone will most likely enjoy and get started. Read at least one chapter an evening and watch the magic begin. Snuggling together while reading out loud is an imperative!
8. Play more games together. Find fun indoor and outdoor games that the family can play together. The key word is: together. Pick out collaborative board or computer games or head outside for an easy, fun game of soccer. Not sure where to find good games? Do a Google search for “best board games” or “best family computer games” – the number of sites that come up is amazing. Start by finding games that interest you and then make suggestions to your family. Keep an eye on games that have won awards recently or in the past few years.
7. Shut off the devices. How often do we “spend time together” while staring at our individual digital devices? That does not count as family time. Shut off all devices and have an evening of quiet time together. Light candles and turn on one device, the CD player, so that you can listen to a book on tape or a classical music CD.
6. Discussion matters. We spend a lot of time talking at one another: telling our children to pick up their toys, reminding our spouse about a dental appointment, calling everyone to the dinner table. To really solidify language learning in our families, we need to have discussions. We need to communicate with one another in meaningful ways without time pressure. Not only will our children be picking up our language, it will also gives us the opportunity understand how our children see and experience our world.
5. Make meals together. We often hear about the importance of eating meals together but what about preparation? Our children should be next to us in the kitchen helping us make the family meals as often as possible. It is a wonderful way to have conversations with our children without the pressure of specific “discussion time.” While cutting carrots and stirring pots we calm down and get to know one another better.
4. Get to know other families. Our children need to see us with others who speak our languages. Our children also need to spend time with other children who can speak their minority language (even if the children choose not to speak the language when together). Show your children that your language is part of a larger world by getting to know other families who speak your language. Start a language playgroup/group to bring people together.
3. Do some language experiments. Have fun with multilingualism in your home. If what you are doing doesn’t seem to be working as well as you’d like, don’t be afraid to do a language experiment. Put away the community language books and DVDs and instead fill the shelves with minority language books and media, as Christianne did one summer. Just remember to have fun as a family in the process and make sure to spend the time helping your children transition into the change.
2. Refuse to give up. Just tell yourself that you are not going to give up. No matter what. You may need to change some things around, see #3 above, but whatever may come, don’t give up completely. Find out what you need to work on and focus on that first. Even if all you add is reading a chapter in a book out loud to your children each day, that is something! That is big! That is what not giving up is all about!
1. Be selfish! Multilingual parents focus on their children – a lot. This is good! But when is the last time we read a book, watched a movie, read websites, or listened to audio in our language (or our minority language) for our own pleasure? Now is the time! Watch a silly soap opera in the target language purely for the fun of it. Buy that book you have had your eye on at the book store but felt guilty of buying for yourself. Go for it! We often get so focused on our children and their language needs that we forget to enjoy our languages for the fun of it. And the biggest secret is that when we are feeling inspired by our languages, our children will notice!
May 2014 bring with it many wonderful multilingual moments for you and your family! Don’t forget about #1 on the list! Your inspiration, motivation and joy is key to this whole multilingual venture! Make language something you and your family love, not despise, and you will be well on your way to multilingual happiness.
What are your top New Year’s Resolutions for 2014?