Google+ Raising a Trilingual Child: January 2015


Monday, January 26, 2015

Multilingual Families: 8 Quick & Effective Ways to Learn Your Spouse’s Language, For the Busy Parent

by Paul Martin

A great thing about multilingual families is that the children have the invaluable opportunity to learn any of the languages that the parents speak. However, this comes with a tradeoff: if mom and dad speak different languages, one parent might struggle to understand the communication between the other parent and the child. This can inhibit family bonding time, and can be frustrating for everyone involved.

But don’t worry! There are plenty of easy-to-implement tips and tricks that can help you sneak in some extra practice in your spouse’s language. Even for parents who are pressed for time, this list will help you improve your language skills each day -- and more importantly, will make it easier for the whole family to communicate.

1. Make labels around the house

A great way to internalize names for useful, everyday objects is to make labels for various items around your house. For example, if you’re trying to learn French, ask your spouse to put labels with the French names on your appliances around the kitchen. This way, you’ll be constantly exposed to basic words in your target language, and you’ll memorize them without even realizing it.

2. Read comic books in the target language

Comic books are an especially great language-learning tool for two reasons. First, they’re fun, engaging, and quick -- they make for a perfect read when you have a few spare minutes at home, or on the subway on the way to work. Second, they are highly visual, so even if you don’t know some of the words, the pictures can help you figure out what they mean.

3. Watch movies and TV series with subtitles -- and pay attention

DVDs for most recent movies and series come with subtitles in several languages. If you’re just starting to learn a language, try watching your favorite series with subtitles in the target language. But be careful! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the action, and ignore the subtitles. Make sure that you’re really engaging with the subtitles to see how common words and phrases are pronounced in your target language. Pause frequently to make sure you understand what you’re reading, and when there’s something you don’t understand, make a note to ask your spouse for clarification.

If you don’t have subtitles for a particular movie or series, try searching for them online: there are several free websites that have subtitles available to download in many different languages. And once you’re comfortable enough to watch movies in the target language, check out some film suggestions for language learners , specifically selected to help you learn a plethora of new slang and colloquialisms.

4. Listen -- and sing along -- to music in the foreign language

Music is a great way to understand both the cultural and linguistic features of a given language. And with the internet, it’s available everywhere -- for almost any language, there are plenty of great resources with song suggestions from past to present. Songs are excellent for language learners, as you can follow along with the lyrics to learn new words and grammatical constructions -- all while enjoying some catchy tunes.

Load up your iPod with target-language songs to squeeze in some practice when you’re on the go -- and don’t forget to sing along! This way, you’ll be practicing both your listening and your speaking skills.

5. Release your inner child

Reading books can be challenging for language learners, as they’re often filled with complex language and advanced grammar. There’s an exception, however -- children’s books! Reading children’s books is a fantastic way to learn the basics of a foreign language, while at the same time revisiting some of your favorite reads from your childhood. Once you’re familiar with a book, show off your newfound knowledge -- and get in some speaking practice -- by reading it aloud to the whole family.

6. Find a pen pal

If you don’t have enough time to meet regularly with a language teacher and your spouse is not willing to take a role as such either, consider finding a pen pal on the internet with whom you can practice writing in the target language. Websites like Conversation Exchange allow you to create a free profile with speakers of any language, and communicate via email or Skype. It’s a great way to talk with native speakers, as well as practice your writing.

7. Set a regular time to speak the language at home

Once you feel comfortable enough to hold a conversation, set a fixed time each week to speak the language with your family. For example, if you’re trying to learn Chinese, you could make a household tradition of speaking only in Chinese at dinnertime on Friday. Or if you’d rather test the waters first, try spending a few minutes each day before bedtime speaking in the target language with just your spouse.

8. Track your progress

Learning a language is a slow process, and it’s easy to feel discouraged or get bogged down by details. Every few months, take an online level test to see how your language skills have progressed. You’ll be surprised by how much you’ve improved! And in addition, you’ll be able to see which areas you still struggle with, so you can focus your efforts on what needs the most work.

When learning a foreign language, practice makes perfect. But even if you don’t have hours to devote to studying a language, these tips and tricks will help you engage with your spouse’s language in your everyday life. With a little bit of effort each day, you’ll be well on your way to communicating more openly and freely with your family -- in whichever language you please.

Paul writes for Language Trainers, which provides individually-tailored language training on a one-on-one or small group basis worldwide. Language Trainers offers several free educational resources, such as audio-recorded listening tests. Don’t hesitate to email or visit Language Trainers' Facebook page for more information. 

Note: The photos are provided by the author. The cover photo is a cut from the original one taken by  Lucia Sanchez and is licensed under CC by 2.0.

You might also like:

Get Your Hero to clean your home - Sweepstake. 

Q&A: Question from a bilingual parent-to-be about language choice. 

Multilingual Family Interview: When your home languages are different from community language.  

7 principles to keep in mind while teaching your child to read.  

Are you a multilingual family and looking for a playdate in your language? Click here to find it now!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Q&A: Question from a bilingual parent-to-be about language choice.

Question from a bilingual parent-to-be with a monolingual spouse about language choice. They would like to raise a trilingual child, who would speak Korean, Indonesian & English.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Get Your Hero to clean your home - Sweepstake.

Do you live in Milan, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid or Paris? Are you tired of cleaning your apartment and putting toys in place? - Then this is for you!

Imagine that you can forget about cleaning your apartment for just one day. Leave your house, enjoy quality time together with your family, just to return to a place that shines and full of order!

Or you can use that extra 3 hours of free time to visit a beauty salon, have your hair done or just run some errands before St. Valentines?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Life Story: Languages are just a huge part of who I am.

Parents play an important role in child's life. Sometimes one little thing we do can change child's life completely.  Those who immigrated to a different country will find Marianna Du Bosq's story deeply touching.  She became bilingual ( English and Spanish ) as a teenager and  now raises a trilingual child, who speaks  English, Spanish and German. 

First Day of Middle School
Marianna and her sister at public middle school
My multilingual journey starts approximately twenty years ago when my family and I left everything behind and moved from Caracas, Venezuela to the United States in search of the American dream. We left everyone we loved and everything we owned in search of new opportunities with education at the top of our list.

Prior to this point I had learned some English but it was all very basic. I had taken some after school classes in Venezuela and had some instruction here and there at my school but my knowledge was fairly limited. I could maybe name all the colors, list some fruits, identify the names of family members, count to a hundred and make some very very basic sentences. A far cry from what I needed to know to communicate in the eighth grade. The idea of the moving to a whole new country, culture and language was quite intimidating! Yet to be honest, I was also just so excited that I really had no idea what a challenge learning a whole new language would be and just what was waiting for me on the other side.