You might remember how down I was on New Year’s resolutions in 2015. I didn’t set any goals at the beginning of last year other than the resolve to just “be” in each area of life. It was a quiet banner that pursued me all year. The constant murmur to “be” shed a fair bit of light on the mundane I routinely try to escape. And on all that is missed by preferring the future to the now.
I suppose I am still a little crotchety about resolutions that are set just because it’s the beginning of another year. Also, with three kids ages three and under, it takes an act of God simply to get the laundry folded, let alone set our eyes on the unreachable. But, the beginning of a new year is a good time to assess how things are going and to desire change.
So, when Marianna over at Bilingual Avenue asked me and a group of parents raising multilingual kids what their language goals were for this year, I agreed to give some thought on our unfolding journey.
In 2015, I would say that we found a healthy balance between French and English within the home. Understandably, English (being the majority language outside the home) had the slight upper hand. We opted against American preschool this year and that has helped to reinforce a fairly balanced foundation in both languages.
– Ayo (almost 4 years old) has developed a slightly different personality in each language. In English, I’d say he is a touch more outgoing and creative. In French, he is more exacting, like an expert technician, especially for all things surrounding construction vehicles (transpalette, c’est quand même un joli mot maman!).
– Délice is terribly
lazy efficient in the way she approaches language acquisition. At two years of age, she understands most everything but doesn’t see why she would ever need to use two different cognates for one object. Shouldn’t everyone understand “bibi hot” (hot bottle)?
– As for latest little addition that we are calling ‘Amani‘, at barely one month old, he is taking it all in.. the French, the English, the vibrant L.I.F.E in this home.
Last year travel and pregnancy and guests and birth happened on the FAST track. After our trip to China and the natural linguistic curiosity that ensued, one tired mama allowed Mandarin to slip a bit. And, German friends be not offended: I have never spoken a word of German to any of them.
Thus, if the kids’ language skills were Tegu blocks, they would look something like this:
This year, in terms of goals, I’d simply love to recognize the level the kids are at in each language and strengthen their current level in each, all in keeping it all light-hearted and fun. To be honest, we are already naturally doing a number of the things I have listed below. But this year, I am going to journal on a month-by-month basis about our multilingual ups and downs. If you want to do the same, Marianna is giving away a free bilingual journal. Also this year, after considering it for quite a while, I think it is important for our children to hear German on a somewhat regular (but super casual) basis. Cheers to 2016 being the year of German.. Jawohl, klar, auf geht’s!
How we will reach our language goals…
Skills we will focus on: Listening. Speaking. Early Literacy – Reading / Writing.
Aim: Strengthen vocabulary. Develop storytelling skills. Learn phonics, a few sight words, understand the idea behind the rhyme.
>>We will attend the weekly preschool story-time at the library. Consistently read more age-appropriate books (not just the old favorites) starting with the Top Rated of 2015. Experiment with a learning co-op exchange 2 x monthly with family friends who value literature/literacy. Check-out music & books on CD and audiobooks. Continue to organize regular social activities with English speaking friends. Mama commits to reading more varied genres and starting writing exercises.
Skills: Listening. Speaking. Early Literacy – Reading / Writing.
Aim: Strengthen vocabulary. Reinforce social / conversational skills, ideally with peers. Learn to engage in more complex stories.
>>We will remind the kids how much we love France. Search for and read more advanced story-based books. Introduce a progressive reading method (Bled / Méthode de lecture syllabique) for the first time. Continue to play with sight-word puzzles. Vocabulary building games on topic of interest (for ex: print photo of a train and learn words for tender, caboose, conductor). Try to find local or virtual peers to engage with in conversation. Mama commits to reading more, listening more and writing in French more consistently.
Skills: Listening. Speaking.
Aim: I feel like the kids should be able to handle understanding and answering basic questions: What is your name? How old are you? And to understand question words. Count to 20. Recognize 10 basic characters.
>>We will share our love of China with the kids. Continue to watch Little Pim Chinese DVDs and select YouTube videos. Continue to play around with word blocks. We will watch CCTV, listen to Chinesepod and engage with local Mandarin speakers as the opportunity presents itself. It would be great to get the kids into a little Chinese school program, but I don’t see it as realistic at this time. We’ll look back at our photos and videos of last summer’s trip to China. Mama commits to writing to friends in China and former teachers in Chinese (photo below is of us having dinner with our first teacher in China), and easing back into self-study.
Aim: Develop an ear for German. Count to ten. Understand basic greetings, courtesies and be able to respond to the most elementary:
What is your name? How old are you?
>>We will tell the kids how much we loved living in Germany! We plan to switch off French / German play dates with local German friends interested in learning French. Introduce German at home as interested through picture books or casual conversation. Mama commits to reading and writing in German more consistently throughout the year.
So there you have it, our language goals for 2016!