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Challenges of raising bi/multilingual kids…

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil

Dialects of Portuguese in Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 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/Central American countries, a few European reps, and the soon-to-become-acquaintedwith 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. I’m not always with them to ‘remind’ my lovies the importance of keeping up with ‘mommy’s language’…

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil

KeyboardLayout-Portuguese-Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 almost 12, 9.5 and 6.5 years old – and were introduced to different languages as early as their birthdate.

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 for the past 3 years in Brazil, talking with their nanny in Spanish/Portunol    , they may 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 earlier.

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

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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! 😮

 
16 Comments

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

 

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‘Saudade’, the untranslatable word for missing something or someone…

saudade

Hoje, eu sinto Saudade. I believe it’s related to our constant nomadic mode, moving every so often… I miss a place and a time that may not exist anymore… But please, don’t get me wrong! It’s not a ‘sad feeling’ – I live the happiest life I could’ve asked for: the dearest husband, my loving kids, pursuing our dreams…

We’re on the ‘home stretch’ right now: less than 3 months to depart post… again… pack-out… again… Today I realized I’m a bit tired of this, but I also know that, with a little time to adjust [again!], it’ll all be fine, at last. But right now, I’m feeling saudade… and we haven’t even left yet! What a crazy feeling,  crazy lifestyle… and right now I’m asking myself: ‘why did we decide to do this?’ And I know there are no answers for this rhetorical question – once you join or decide to move along with this Foreign Service life, you’ve signed off on all the perks, advantages and challenges that come along with it – and we did sign it… and we’ve read thru the fine print… and we’ve discussed the pros and cons… But, although we’re extremely satisfied with our life choices, today… I feel Saudade… Saudade of a stable lifestyle… saudade of a time we didn’t have to move, change, adapt and adjust… Saudade of not having to tell our children they’ll have to leave their school friends behind, and should be excited for making new ones… at the new school… speaking a new language…

Oh well, thanks to my dear Portuguese language, I’m able to express my current feelings using one single word – and not bother trying to clearly translate it – “Saudade” – my March 11, 2014 pure self!

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s one of my favorite words in Portuguese – ‘saudade‘. It’s an expression with a lot of emotion and deep sense of compassion. There’s no comparison to this word in English; and definitely, doesn’t carry the same degree of emotion involved… Few other languages have a word with such meaning, making saudade a distinct mark of Portuguese culture.

Olavo Bilac

Olavo Bilac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Considering I went deep into my thoughts, I went out looking for ‘ closer definitions’ of this unique feeling, which according to my father’s quote of Olavo Bilac, ‘represents the presence of the ones who are absent..‘. I simply love this quote, since I was a child. Back then, and still living in Brazil, I couldn’t really perceive the true meaning of his words – ‘how can somebody/something be present, and yet, absent?‘How could I miss something I’d never experienced before?’

Saudade

Saudade (Photo credit: Fábio Pinheiro)

Today, as a grown woman, I understand my dad’s words, and they’ve become a part of who I am, and how I carry myself through life. I need to feel ‘Saudade‘, it’s a requirement to keep living, we all need to be linked to our past, and we need to long for people, moments, places and emotions that were part of our development as humans. Saudade makes us more humane, more grounded, more prompt to learn through our emotions…

Saudade

Saudade (Photo credit: A Sheep in Man’s Clothing)

So now, going into the ‘formal definitions’: the Urban Dictionary describes the word as used to “explain the feeling of missing something or someone. It is used to tell about something that you used to have (and liked) but don’t have anymore”.

(Portuguese: “yearning“), Saudade was a characteristic of the earliest Portuguese folk poetry and has been cultivated by sophisticated writers of later generations. 

Missing Naples

Photo credit: Wikipedia

“The famous saudade of the Portuguese is a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.” (In Portugal, by AFG Bell, 1912).

Chega de Saudade (album)

Chega de Saudade (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Portuguese word ‘saudademeans, broadly, to miss someone or something. But the English miss doesn’t begin to convey the intensity of the Portuguese word. It can cover the sentiments understood in words such as “longing” and “yearning,” as well as “homesickness” and “nostalgia”; in fact, it is all of those, and many more. Although saudade first appeared in Portugal somewhere around the 15th century, there is something about it that is particularly suited to Portugal’s New World child, Brazil, where I come from. Everything there, including feelings, is intense. We [Brazilians] never say “I love you” casually.

In Brazil, when you say it, it means a lot.

And, then, you feel saudade… 😮

 
 

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Muito Obrigada!

thank you cloud

Muito obrigada! A habilidade de poder escrever, entender e comunicar em várias línguas tem sido uma vantagem sem preço para toda a minha família. E para tanto, sou muito grata. Obrigada pela possibilidade de compartilhar um blog cuja principal língua é o Inglês, e no entanto, ainda ser capaz de manter o Português da minha origem brasileira, com meu marido e filhos.

Obrigada pela possibilidade de usar no trabalho, uma terceira língua aprendida, o Espanhol.

Languages have become part of my life. I need communication tools in more ways than one, and for all they ways I’ve been [mis]using languages, I’m very thankful. Muchísimas gracias por la posibilidad de comunicarme con otros en un país tan distinto del mio  – Bolivia. Gracias! Thank you! Obrigada!

In response to the Daily Prompt 'Thank You'
 
11 Comments

Posted by on September 12, 2013 in ART, LANGUAGE

 

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Weekly Writing Challenge: “Yo Falo Portuñol [and Spanglish!]”

In green, the areas where "Portunol"  is spoken in South America. Image downloaded from wikipedia.com

In green, the areas where “Portunol” is spoken in South America. Image downloaded from http://wikipedia.com

Oh, well, this one should be interesting!

The inspiration for this week’s writing challenge is ‘a manner of speaking’.

Recently, I just shared my very personal point of view on why do I write‘, really meaning ‘why do I blog‘ – and the answers are quite simple: I write, blog, share, because it’s the easiest, fastest, simplest way to reach out to other [bloggers], get feedback [from within the traveling, expat community], vent out [my difficulties, challenges] and exchange [experiences, lessons learned and why not, ‘things that one should not do while trying to raise kids around the world!‘] 😮

I also try to blog in different languages – although my posts tend to be mostly in English, my mother tongue is Continental Portuguese [born and raised in the beautiful & multicultural country of Brazil!], and to top it all off, we’re living and working in Bolivia, whose national language is Spanish. That said, my work days are spent in 2 languages that aren’t really, ‘mine’… Despite the obvious exhaustion at the end of the day, I’m surviving…

At work: I talk to people in English and in ‘Portuñol’. My staff is kind enough to ‘pretend’ they’re fully understanding what I’m struggling to tell them! Conversations with local nationals are often established in ‘Spanglish’ and in Portuñol.

At home: it’s a mix. Met my husband several years back, while still in Brazil, and the two of us would have long conversations in Portuguese. Years went by, and now we created a mixed language that tends to gravitate towards the ‘one who’s the most tired’: if it’s me, than, we talk in Portuguese. If it’s him, the conversation will move toward English. But we’re not done, there are the 3 kids, adding to this lingual melting pot: the older ones, due to the international school, show some preference to English, while the toddler showcases her abilities in Spanish Paceño [typical of La Paz], with a few words in Aymara [indigenous dialect], here and there… 😮

Somehow, all of us, who are continuously swinging between two or more languages, find our way to adjust, to adapt to new scenarios, and keep on moving. We keep on talking [and boy, I’m a chatty cat, if allowed to be!] – communication is one of the most powerful tools our society’s got, and when well used, it’s not only a diplomatic tool, but it also enhances our chances to improve social relationships at home, at the work level, and emotionally. ♥

" Amanhana, yo hablo!"
” Amanhana, yo hablo!”

“Amanhãna eu hablo. Si queden tranquilis!”

[this is a classic example of Portuñol – very likely, the intention was to say: ‘I’ll talk about it tomorrow, stay calm”.]  Photo credit here.

For the Spanish-speaking readers here, this sentence probably sounds like a joke… and guess what, was produced by one of Brazil’s former President, while addressing the Mercosul community!]. Jokes aside, I’m proud to have a mixed background, and even more proud to have the ability to share that with my growing children. I speak Spanglish. I speak Portuñol. Yo hablo whatever mix between these three languages is required to have the conversation going… The goal is to communicate. Hopefully, I’m on the right track… and if not, I’ll graciously find my way out: ‘yo no comprendo…’ 😮 ‘ I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about...’ And, if I’m lucky enough, I won’t find myself lost in translation through life! ♥

In order to wrap it all up, a poem, written in the “most pure Portunol“, by a Brazilian GauchoMario Quintana:

Don Ramón se tomo um pifón:
bebia demasiado, don Ramón!

Y al volver cambaleante a su casa,
avistó em el camino:
um árbol
y um toro…

Pero como veia duplo, don Ramón
vio um árbol que era
y um árbol que no era,
um toro que era
y um toro que no era.
Y don Ramón se subió al árbol que no era:
Y lo atropelo el toro que era.
Triste fim de don Ramón!

 

 
22 Comments

Posted by on May 3, 2013 in humor, LANGUAGE

 

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