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The endless challenges of raising multilingual kids…

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

This is another example of my many moments of introspective thoughts… This is one of those days when I try to understand [and accept!] the decisions we’ve made for our lifestyle, the way we’re raising our children, the kind of education parameters we [husband and I] need to make available to them… As part of the educational tools my children need to be exposed to, are, for sure, the language/communication/social expression tools.

I’ve already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of…

My children are surely enjoying their school break – another 2 full weeks to go, and they’ll be back at a familiar environment – an international school, surrounded by Spanish speaking classmates, and other expats, mainly from neighboring South American countries, a few European reps, and the well-known US-American crowd.

All fun and games, until it came to reinforce the endless/continuous need for them [my kids] to keep speaking Portuguese at home. Since I spend several hours at work, I’m not with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

They speak to the nanny in Spanish, to other American kids in English. The TV is mostly in English, with a few Spanish options. I’m their only link to Portuguese, right now – and I feel it’s my duty to stress the rule of  ‘if mom is home, you should only talk to her in Portuguese, as well as, to each other”.

Guess what’s happening? The rule is definitely off. We [parents] had it all planned out: our kick-off was the One Parent One Language (OPOL) method, where one parent speaks the minority language, which would be, in my case, Portuguese. My husband would have the kids started in Spanish [his father's mother tongue], and gradually move on to English [husband's mother's tongue], as school moved on and our children required a deeper knowledge of English… We knew their/kids’ brains are hard-wired for language acquisition and children up to three years old easily process both languages.

Our 3 children had an early ‘linguistic’ start. They’re now 8; 6 and 3 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate. Soon, our family will be transitioning from our current Spanish-speaking setting, to a Brazilian Portuguese scenario… how would my kids [re]adapt? What would be the social, emotional, psychological impacts this imminent move may bring? Only time will tell us…

José Saramago

José Saramago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Right now, it seems not to be working. Maybe, it’s because we’re tired at the end of the day? Or because the kids see me talking to their dad in English; and to their day-time nanny in Spanish, they believe it’s okay to leave Saramago‘s language aside, and completely pretend they don’t know Portuguese [??].

So here I am, asking for suggestions [??], trying to figure out an easy [and painless] way out… ,

I’m always on the lookout for interesting resources for supporting our toddlers’ learning, I stumbled upon this very interesting article from Multilingual Living, which I’ve shared here before.

From our “tentative trilingual home” to yours… Thank you for reading… and for any suggestions that come our way! :o

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16 Comments

Posted by on March 23, 2014 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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A few thoughts on ‘bilingual homeschooling’.

Already mentioned here my [random] thoughts on the whole bi/multilingual culture {Comments and extra thoughts on being a multilingual parent…}, and its obvious benefits, not only to the growing child, but also for the society that child is part of… 

There’s also a very interesting/challenging/poking article from CNN, bringing out the discussion on a study about ‘lifelong bilinguals’ {Study: Bilinguals Have Faster Brains} and the development of their brains… also, worth to check it out [I clearly did, it's part of who I'm... that said, I had no other option but to join the discussion forum with my 2 cents growing up as a nomad child, and now a 'trailing spouse' and mother to 3 TCKs].

According to Corey Heller [the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine], “Home languages almost always take a severe blow the moment our children walk through the schoolhouse doors. 

All of a sudden, our children are surrounded by peers, teachers, administrators (even the janitor and bus driver) all day long who speak nothing but the community language.  Our children quickly learn that this “school language” is essential for functioning in society and thus begins the home language–school/community language dichotomy (to the distress of many a dedicated parent). However, not all families experience this abrupt change once their children are school age. What is their secret?” 

Well, the answer presented by the Multilingual Living author is that parents “choose to educate their children at home and avoid the whole transition all together”.

Personally, we’re trying to get the best of the two worlds: our 2 elementary children attend an international school in Bolivia, where most of the classes are in English, with the optional Spanish as a ‘bonus’ class. The playground language is Spanish. Homework is done in English. I try my best to only speak to the children in Portuguese, and my husband does the same, regarding Spanish. I guess, we’re doing the ‘part-time homeschooling’!

Back to the ‘inspirational article’, “For most families, homeschooling is not about recreating the classroom at home. It is about creating something absolutely brand new and unique; about fostering an environment which is conducive to learning, regardless of material, location or method…” I agree with the author, and just wish I/we could replicate that in our own household! :) And why I say that? Because it’s hard, despite the endless efforts from the parents,

bilingual homeschoolers use an array of resources for learning different subjects. What is most important are the results that come from learning a subject, e.g. being able to read and comprehend what is read, compute mathematical equations on varying levels, write a well-researched and well-argued essay, be familiar with world geography and history, and put the scientific method into practice – all of which progresses and matures as our children develop their knowledge and skills…”

And as the author wraps it up, we’re left with a great advice:

How to Homeschool in more than one Language:
“Each family will need to come up with their own bilingual homeschooling plan based on their languages and subjects which they plan to cover.  Family members must also decide who will be teaching which subjects in which language and when. Planning is probably the hardest part so families need to make sure they find as many resources as they can – general books on homeschooling as well as books in the target language which can be used for specific subjects”.

That said, we’ll keep on trying to assist our children with homework, school projects, reading/writing responses, using not only English. Math problems could be described and explained using my Portuguese. The joy of seeing my son resolving a problem/understanding a text excerpt and writing down the answers in English, carries a totally especial feeling for me. It shows the innate capacity to adapt, to adjust, and to develop a very personal way of thinking, of expressing himself

Leaving you all with nice words of support, from Corey Heller: “The decision to homeschool bilingually can be a frightening one but with enough preparation, support and motivation you can make it a successful one for you and your family.”

If you liked this piece, please take a moment and go visit Multilingual Living website. It’s a very good resource for parents of TCKs, homeschooling parents, or any parent concerned about improving their children’s learning skills, without loosing track of reality. From our “tentative trilingual home“, to yours…♥

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More?

Benefits of Multilingualism

 
10 Comments

Posted by on October 4, 2013 in EDUCATION, LANGUAGE, resources, TCKs

 

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Thoughts on ‘Let Teachers Do Their Jobs.’

"Teacher Appreciation" featured phot...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last morning’s column on the Washington Post [Parenting], by Tracy Grant, was a refreshing example of what we [parents] need [or need not] to do when it comes to working in parallel with our children’s schools. The author encourage us all not only to read her suggestions, but also try to create a “new school year’s resolution.” Letting the teachers teach. Letting them exercise their abilities while showing our children the way to behave in school, as well as in society.

English: Group of children in a primary school...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quoting Tracy Grant: “Let your kids’ teachers do their job. Assume that they are equipped to do what they have been trained and are paid to do. Be involved in your child’s school and education, but try to do it in a way that is supportive of the teachers.”

In short: Meddle less.

And this was only the introduction to her op-piece. ‘Meddle less’. She simply nailed it on the head. No need for screaming, no discussion, no arguments – it’s like telling us, parents, ‘step away, for a little bit’, and let the [ones that have been trained, schooled, experienced] do their jobs.

Obviously, our children’s education should not rely solely on what he/she are receiving during the school hours – it goes way beyond the school walls, and it’s our [parental] responsibility to ensure their success and well-being are the utmost goal. Parents should be unconditionally involved in a child’s education. As Tracy Grant well pointed out, ‘no one will ever be a better advocate for your child than you’. But being supportive to your child does not mean one needs to act/react as if the child didn’t have means to do so. As the child ages, he/she has the critical duty to advocate for him/herself. It’s an integral part of learning how to live the ‘real life’ in the ‘real world’, surrounded by ‘real people’, facing real challenges and difficulties.

Part of the learning process is understanding [from the child' point of view] how to survive in the real world. It’s also crucial for parents and school professionals, to offer opportunities for independent learning. It’s a two-way street: the teaching goes alongside with the learning, and one cannot exist if the other is corrupted.

Finally, using Tracy’s words, an advice for any parent out there [and my favorite part of her article!]: ‘encourage him to be a responsible student. Assume the teacher knows what he is doing. And your student may wind up learning lessons for a lifetime.’

 
15 Comments

Posted by on September 5, 2013 in children, EDUCATION, resources

 

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The emotionally resilient expat [by Linda Janssen].

Oh, well, why not mention here a great book that just came out [July 2013], by the author Linda Janssen?

And the reason for that? Linda interviewed several expats, families, collected their experiences, challenges, suggestions, stories and tales. All together, bound in one book – and I’m happy to say I’m one of the proud contributors to her compendium…

[insert a shameless smile here! :o]

My little 2 cents: lessons learned from our ‘nomadic life’ with the US Foreign Service – as a professional, a around-the-clock mother, a traveler, an FSO spouse… a serial expat… ♥

Happy reading!

Linda A Janssen, The Emotionally Resilient Expat

The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures

Living abroad offers enriching experiences of growth, broadened perspective, enhanced cultural understanding. Yet its transition-rich, change-driven, cross-cultural nature can place considerable demands, leaving us stressed, disconnected, our identity in flux. Building on existing literature and benefitting from recent developments in psychology and brain-body connections, The Emotionally Resilient Expat: Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures shows the key to successful transitions and beyond lies in emotional resilience to adapt, adjust or simply accept. Linda A. Janssen combines candid personal stories from experienced expats and cross-culturals, with a wealth of practical tools, techniques and best practices from emotional, social and cultural intelligence, positive psychology, mindfulness, stress management, self-care and related areas. FACTORS™ offers a way to live a healthier, more positive, emotionally engaged, culturally connected global life.

Curious to learn more about the book? Follow this link:

www.theemotionallyresilientexpat.com

REVIEWS

“Using personal story and solid theory in her groundbreaking book on emotional resilience, Linda A. Janssen guides those facing the challenges of cross-cultural living to dig under the initial rocky surfaces of overseas life to discover – and use – the rich gold of their own experience. A great resource for expats of all backgrounds.” Ruth E. Van Reken, Author, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds

“Janssen’s work is sure to be a stand out in any expatriate or cross-cultural arena. She eloquently, articulately and incisively delves into areas previously considered taboo in order to highlight how we can all gain mastery over whatever life throws our way. I will definitely be referencing Janssen’s material when working with TCKs, expat parents and international students.” Tina L Quick, Author, The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition,www.internationalfamilytransitions.com

“A practical guide in the art of managing the risks of overseas life in ways that will promote endurance and effectiveness. Full of honest and hope-filled stories from the lived experience and life-long learning of Janssen and her dozens of expatriate contributors. An invaluable companion for expats who want to know that they are not alone.” Duncan P. Westwood, PhD, (C)OACCPP Clinical Director of Expatriate Care & Development, International Health Management

“As with any food rich in nutrition, this book is best sampled regularly and digested slowly.” Drs. Douglas W. Ota, NIP Psychologist, NMI Mediator, Family Therapist, www.dougota.nl

 
 

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Always in good company! 3rdCultureChildren among Multicultural Bloggers!

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Check the directory out at: http://www.multiculturalbloggers.com/

Multicultural Bloggers

 

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School is back: Creating the proper study environment?

English: Don't waste your time and do your hom...

Homework time?! Photo credit: Wikipedia.

This morning’s article on Parenting, from the Washington Post got me thinking…

And I’m thankful that Nicole Anzia [freelance writer; she can be reached at nicole@neatnik.org] took a stab at it: “Finding a space where your child can complete his or her homework without getting totally stressed out, or stressing you out, is difficult. Don’t be discouraged if the first place you choose isn’t perfect; this will be an ongoing and evolving process throughout your child’s life as a student. But having a space set up and creating a homework routine during the first week of school will help smooth the transition from summer’s hot, hazy days to fall’s hurried, homework days.”

Homework

Homework (Photo credit: TJCoffey)

According to Anzia, there are few points that MUST be addressed, and since school days for my 2 elementary kids has just begun, I hope I’m on the right track, and will, for sure, try to follow her ‘advice': [I've added my personal comments after the 'important-points' suggested by the author]

1. Choose the right location

We’re fortunate enough to have an extra ‘lunch table’, in a separate room, with a framed world map, a large wall clock and a buffet with drawers. The whole area has been defined for ‘homework’ and school assignments: reading response; school poster preparation, coloring, cutting and pasting [I've got a 2nd grader and a KG5].

2. Find and organize supplies

The buffet drawers were turned into ‘storage space’ for their school supplies. Backpacks are kept on the floor, against the wall, and handy, when they’re needed. Plastic containers/organizers are a must-have to keep their pencils, coloring gear, scissors; glue sticks IN PLACE AND EASY TO FIND. :o

Homework

Homework (Photo credit: christinepollock)

3. Create a Go-To spot

Anzia also points out that “Another advantage of a designated homework space is that you can have a set surface where you and your kids can post scheduling reminders and deadlines. You could hang a magnetic board or bulletin board, or use stick-on chalkboard or dry-erase boards that can be easily removed in seconds, without damaging the wall.”

For that, unfortunately, I had to resource to our kitchen area, where we mounted a white board on the wall, with our cell phone numbers [for the sitter, when both mom and dad are at work!]. The board displays each child’s chores, a brief schedule and any necessary reminder…. The kitchen wall is also the place for an oversized interactive calendar [months, days, seasons, weather and special dates]. Our oldest son, now 7,5 is the one in charge of changing the dates/information on the calendar, every morning.

4. Try out and reassess

This is the author’s final suggestion. Try things out, and after the initial month or so, reassess the results. Change. Improve. Get feedback from the kids. See what works and what needs to be fixed.

We’re on week 1, for this school year… let’s wait and see what’s in store for us… we’re all hopeful… maybe ‘homework time’ will be a breeze… who knows? :o

 
 

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Day 360 in Bolivia: Suggestions for entertaining the little ones.

A male Green-and-rufous Kingfisher on Chalalan...

A male Green-and-rufous Kingfisher on Chalalan Lake, Tuichi River. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Miranda Family arrived in La Paz in the beginning of August, 2012.  assignment. Our familial “nucleus” is constituted of 2 adults, 2 kids (7 1/2 and 5 1/2 yrs-old) and a 2 1/2 year-old toddler. Being a parent/caretaker requires lots of diplomacy, negotiationpeacekeeping, policy implementation and strategy skills. That said, managing a household, its respective juvenile population and the consequent budgetary implications, is a… HUGE, EXPERIMENTAL and UNFORESEEN task!

There is a never-ending need to keep kids and parents sane (as much as possible). Family outings require loads of planning and logistics management – even if we’re just talking about a Sunday lunch!

  • Here are some suggestions for entertaining the kids (without pulling our hair off), we’ve learnt along the way:
Take weekend trips with other families with kids -it's a life-saver!

Take weekend trips with other families with kids – it’s a life-saver!

Immerse into the local culture and traditions

Immerse into the local culture and traditions

Go hiking through the Isla del Sol

Go hiking through the Isla del Sol

Host a kids Halloween Blast!

Host a kids’ Halloween Blast!

Join the traditional 'water balloon fights' during Carnaval!

Join the traditional ‘water balloon fights’ during Carnaval!

Go bowling!

Go bowling!

Go Zip-lining at the Yungas!

Go Zip-lining at the Yungas!

Throw impromptu 'theme lunches'

Throw impromptu ‘themed lunches’

Family and friends spend the Sunday together at Oberland.

Go out! Family and friends spend the Sunday together at Oberland.

Go on a boat trip along the waters of Lake Titicaca

Go on a boat trip along the waters of Lake Titicaca

Join a 'greening initiative' for a weekend of activities

Join a ‘greening initiative’ for a weekend of activities

Throw impromptu costume parties!

Come up with impromptu costume parties!

Days spent at close-by parks and playgrounds

Days spent at close-by parks and playgrounds

Family luncheons and walks thru the neighborhood of Calacoto

Get out of your comfort zone! Family luncheons and walks thru the neighborhood of Calacoto

Escape to the neighboring Santiago...

Escape to the neighboring Santiago…

Visit to Museums in Prado, La Paz.

Visit Museums in Prado, La Paz.

Mountain biking trip

Take a mountain biking trip

Family trip to the Isla del Sol, Copacabana.

Unplug! Family trip to the Isla del Sol, Copacabana.

Family day trip to the Cotapata Park

Out again! Family day trip to the Cotapata Park

Weekend with friends at the Yungas Region

Weekend with friends at the Yungas Region

 

Surprise your children. Here are some links on good stuff to do around La Paz:

Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallar...

Español: Alumnos del Colegio Padre Luis Gallardo “Nayra Inti” interpretando con sus tarkas una tarkeada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children’s Activities

Bolivia does not boast an extensive selection of activities for children, but what it does offer is stunning national parks and the chance to get close to nature and see scenes that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world.

La Paz Zoo
La Paz Zoo has recently relocated from a tiny plot of land in the south of the city to a much bigger area in Mallasa, which can be found just outside of the city. The bigger space has allowed new enclosures to be built as well as a children’s petting area and an information block. Children will not fail to be impressed by the menagerie living in natural surroundings. You will find many animals in a park-like setting, living life as they would in the wild. After a morning’s excitement with the animals, try out the on-site café for some lunch and treat the kids to a souvenir from the gift shop.

Madidi National Park, Bolivia

Madidi National Park, Bolivia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

National Parks
Bolivia is home to some of the most unspoilt national parks in the world. These parks boast a tremendous variety of wildlife, although you have to be lucky to see a lot of animals as most of them hide deep in the densest of forests. Madidi National Park is recorded by National Geographic as being one of the world’s largest biologically diverse reserves. One of Bolivia’s richest forests can be found here as well as over 988 species of animals. It stretches from the Andes to the western Amazon Basin and allows people to watch animals, trek through woodland and explore the many nature trails. The children will love this unique chance to get back to nature.

Toro Park fountain

Toro Park fountain (Photo credit: Rob Michalski)

Toro Toro National Park is located close to Potosi and is ideal for dinosaur lovers. You will find giant dinosaur footprints and fossils as well as the caves of Umajalanta. Carrasco National Park is an enormous rainforest park located in the Andes’ foothills. It is a great park for children as there is so much space to run around in.

Witches’ Market
This market is also known as Mercado de Brujas and is full of magic and mystery. Goods sold here include herbs and remedies as well as other components used in ancient Aymara traditions. It is La Paz’s most colourful site, with many sights to amaze and excite children.

Witches Market

Witches’ Market (Photo credit: callumscott2)

 

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