Browsing CategoryAdventures in Multilingualism

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The cheapest and easiest way to raise your kids with a second language is to speak it yourself. But if you’re like me, or 80% of Americans, then you grew up only speaking English. So how do you learn? Little by little. It’s often overlooked that you can learn a level 1 language, like Spanish (the easiest for native English speakers) to a proficient level in a year — no matter what your natural skill level — if you do a little bit every single day. It’s so easy! It’s so simple! And yet… I know for me, I am…

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We already know that teaching a child a second language has lots of long-term benefits (there are short-term benefits too, like an increased ability to multitask — but studies have also shown that bilinguals stave off the effects of dementia for four years). I am working on raising my kids as bilingual and when we started I picked languages like one would pick hypothetical extra curricular activities… what was going to be the most useful, where is the language trending, how can I best prepare my kids for the future? I started this process about three years ago and at…

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I always knew that Rosetta Stone was over-priced and heavily marketed. As a blogger I’ve seen them offer large affiliate commissions via sites like Commission Junction, and when I travel it’s not unusual to see a large airport display with their super expensive little yellow boxes. It wasn’t until I signed up for Live Mocha, a site that I’ve heard great things about, during an insanely cheap sale last January where they offered access to ALL their languages for just $10. I did it. I bought it. I encouraged everyone else to do it too via Facebook. We were duped…

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I wrote a post recently talking about how parents who only speak one language can still raise bilingual children. First step: learn the language yourself, along with your child. Second step: use the language with the child and use movies, music, books and games to help. Passively watching a foreign language DVD alone doesn’t work, but if you’re there engaging… in that language… it goes from passive to active and it’s a good way to start out if you don’t speak a ton of the language. I asked in a recent survey what languages people were teaching their kids (and…

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I’ve just written a post for the popular language learning site Fluent in 3 Months about my experiences learning Mandarin, Arabic and Spanish with my son. I know there are lots of bilinguals out there sharing their languages with their kids but I wanted to share what it’s been like as some one who grew up with only one language (and married to a monolingual as well) to attempt to raise my children with multiple languages — two of which I had never even attempted learning before. Read the full post here: http://www.fluentin3months.com/bilingual-child I’m also writing a book as many of…

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I was convinced for the first three years of Cole’s life that I would homeschool him. I read books on unschooling, I followed the message boards, I was on board. Then Cole changed. He became so social and desperate for time with other kids that it became a daily conversation. “Where are the kids?” he’d ask. So we went to look for them. On the weekends we could take him to the beach or the mall where the families tended to be. During the week, after about 8 PM the kids come out to the park near our house and…

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Motivation. It’s strange how it works. I mentioned on Facebook that I was loving Duolingo for Spanish and offered to follow anyone who wanted to join me on that site. A few people took me up on it. The next morning TWO of my readers had beat me on points when they had just started out at zero. So I did what anyone would do — I crammed in order to beat them! Of course! (haha, I’m so competitive.) My score inched up, but so did theirs, they were keeping just ahead of me. So frustrating! Yet so motivating! That’s…

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So I’m learning languages, with my toddler, but as we visit each country then eventually leave, I’m realizing: right, I have to keep studying these languages… forever. That’s the thing. If you don’t use it, language slips away faster than New Year’s resolutions. It’s a never ending battle. You have to be constantly persistent! It’s — hey wait, a second. That’s a really negative way of looking at it, no? Anyway that was me before. I had a really bad internalized attitude about language learning. Whether I picked that up from growing up in a monolingual culture or because the…

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Why do you want to learn Mandarin? It’s not a simple question to answer, not because I don’t have an answer, but because with any other language I’ve studied I’ve never had to answer it. French is sexy, cool. Spanish is easy, practical. On the other hand, Mandarin is hard, unintuitive. Or at least these are the stereotypes. So instead of delving into the whys, and inadvertently get pulled into dismantling stereotypes of a language that I haven’t even started learning yet, I just duck for cover: I want to do it because it’s hard. I want to see if…