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  Topic Review (Newest First)
06-20-2013 12:39 PM
1jooj

Diyabolo, I would agree you should address things with MIL. Again, my mother was that MIL. She would make fun of the way my kids said, "Baba," instead of Dad (and insist they learn to call him Dad or risk being teased), or make a face when the kids would code-switch and say something she couldn't pronounce. Every comment she used to make would be about assimilation and not being teased. And somehow, she was the single person in their lives responsible for most of the teasing. I did have to be firm and sometimes a little scolding with her, reminding her that our household is bicultural, unlike any of the other households in our family. With time, the offending behaviors dwindled. For us, religion is part of it, though, and maybe that complicates it for us.

 

And I love your idea of Spanish immersion. I hope it helps reduce the sense of any sort of pecking order between languages.

 

lilitchka, your words are a good reminder that any work we do with the kids now will be a help to them in years ahead. Whether or not they pursue fluency, their language exposure and work will help keep them open to cross-cultural experiences that might have otherwise been unlikely. And the very start of school might be tough, but I doubt it would take long for him to pick up what he needs for school.

06-19-2013 05:58 AM
lilitchka

My situation is different:

first: I have no questions/anxiety regrading this multilingual environment, because I lived in the same situation, that what ''normal'' is to me.

I lived in an arab-speaking country as a child. my parents spoke only russian to me. at 6, I whent to school with extremely little arabic (few words), but because I was constantly exposed to it (TV, family, outside etc), I became fluent in arabic after 1 month of schooling.

It didn't accur to me that I could speak arabic to my parents (especially dad who was fluent, it is his country!). Istill speak russian to them today.

so what is going to happen to our kids: first, there will be no preschool, no KG. we will ''unschool'' them until grade 1.

by then, I expect them to be totally fluent in russian and arabic.

we will send them to an english-only school, because, even though it is the dominant language in the community, it is absent at home (we are more confortable in french, so we speak often french with DH or friends at home).

It is going to be hard to DS1 the first month or 2 of school. or maybe not. I don't know.

He will start russian only saturday school (5hours) this september.(he will be 4y.o)

and for the french, I don't care if he learns or not. it is out there in the community, it is often at our house. if he wants to learn it as a teenager or adult, it would be very easy for him.

they reason we whant him to learn arabic and russian is not because we want to have ''quadrilangual kids'', it's rather because we want to transmit our cultural identities. and it's impossible to do correctly without language transmission.

 

 

second: we don't have the dominant community language in our house, but you do.

still, I have lots of examples of people who managed to «be fluent in their mother tongue despite the father speaking the dominant language.

 

 

for your MIL: can you address the issue directly/honestly with her?

06-19-2013 04:31 AM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1jooj View Post


All this to suggest bringing new baby and dh on board to maybe help instill a little more pride with the language/culture. One cool thing my kids have discovered is that languages are codes; dh and I do that thing grown-ups sometimes do, where we speak a common (non-English) language together in front of the kids and they have no idea what we're saying. Rude, maybe, but it always tweaks their motivation a little. What if dd1 were enlisted to help teach Dad and new sister as a point of family pride? Not to suggest that Dad's fluency is a goal, but maybe less of a feeling of either-or, to the exclusion of someone in your own little tribe? Would Dad be on board to get in on the fun?

 

Hi 1jooj!

 

Yes! I am totally planning to bring new baby on board and have already planted the seeds ("you're going to help me read stories to the baby," "we're going to have to teach her Arabic" etc.). And DH is very supportive as well. DD is always trying to help him with his pronunciation and he's very happy to learn. But yes, I think a more intentional way of doing this when new baby arrives would be great idea -- maybe mini-Arabic lessons at home for baby and DH!

 

Thanks for the post!

06-19-2013 04:14 AM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilitchka View Post

oh, and i wanted to add: growing up in a bilangual family, when people forced me to speak a certain language, it never worked. it also never worked when i tried to force my dad to speak a certain language. no one can force anyone to speak a certain language.
so Op, your daugher can't force you to speak a certain language.
that's just a fact.

 

I hear what you're saying lilitchka, but then I feel that I am forcing her to speak Arabic, in a way. It will be a rough transition for me if she decides she doesn't want to speak it any more.

 

So far, she's been trying really hard and makes a very concerted effort to do so and to acknowledge the significance of this verbally. For example, yesterday DH, DD and I were all in bed and she said to me (in Arabic): "My tummy hurts. Nana (paternal grandmother) says it's because I have . . . .(long pause for thinking) benzine in my stomach."  Now, "benzine" is the word we have been using for "gas," as in gas at the gas pump for the car. It's the word Arabs use for car fuel :) It's not the word she needed; there is an Arabic word for stomach gas that she hasn't learned yet. At any rate, my point is that she tries very hard to find the equivalent for the word she's looking for so as not to use English. When she can't find it or is unable to Frankenstein it, she asks me, mid-sentence, "what is the Arabic word for "x"? and then continues the sentence using the Arabic word.  Her Arabic vocabulary is much better than her English, so when she speaks with DH she code-switches often and will insert Arabic words when she doesn't know the English. Since she doesn't code-switch with me (I have emphasized, when possible, a strictly monolingual approach), she has to find other ways to express herself.

 

Here's a question I have for everybody! In-laws were here for about 10 days. They spent a lot of time with DD and all of it in English. MIL is subtle, but I can easily tell she's not crazy about the Arabic situation. Certain phrases, gestures, comments she makes (including in front of DD) indicate that.  I can give many examples, but the one that I can readily recall is when DD wanted to watch a cartoon DVD with her (we do extremely limited screen time and much of it is in Arabic to reinforce the language when I am at work).  MIL said: "I can't watch that with you honey. I don't understand it. You watch it by yourself." It's not a huge deal, but to a 4 year old it sends all sorts of signals about the language and about how this language might affect her relationship with a woman she loves! MIL could have easily said "Great! Will you help me understand it and translate some of it for me!" DD understands the concept of translating and does it all the time.  I don't know how much DD has picked up on this, but it's bound to make some kind of impact, no matter how unconscious and as she grows, it will become more apparent, I think.  There is always a certain level of "re-learning" that has to take place once they leave. This time, it actually wasn't all that bad! Anyway, how would you handle these situations? I don't want to talk smack to or about MIL, so I am very careful to be as kind and loving as possible. Any thoughts on how to handle MIL's discomfort and especially DD's response to that discomfort (which I am worried will one day turn into "I don't think I should speak Arabic"?

06-19-2013 03:46 AM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilitchka View Post

we are purists in a sence of never speaking majority language to our kids.
we have sons, almst 4 y.o and a 15 months.
we live in a bilangual community ( 70% english, 30%french).
i speak only russian to our kids, regardless of where we are and who is with us.
dh speaks only arabic to them.
me and dh are both fluent in our 2 home languages and in the 2 community languages.
I speak to dh mostly arabic with some french.

we chose to work both part time mostly to mak sure our kids learn our mother tongues. so they don't go to daycare/preschool and don't speak any french or english.

ds1 isluent in both arabic and russian at his age appropriate level.


what ould I do if I was OP.....probably what you have been doing up until now: divert attention, playfull answer etc.
i really feel that this will pass!

 

Wow! You have managed to so something really amazing with your kids; quadrilingual children is something beyond my scope of experience :)

 

I am curious about what will happen when they go to school, especially since they do not, as of yet, speak the community languages. DD speaks it (English) fluently because of DH, but I have been dreading preschool because of the complete immersion in the community language and how that might negatively affect her desire to speak Arabic.  Have you thought about any strategies you might follow when your 4year old goes to school? I would love to hear them since I have been thinking about this myself.

06-18-2013 06:02 AM
1jooj

Hi. I don't get to this end of the boards often, but this conversation is such a great read.

 

Diyabolo, I am sort of in an opposite role from you; I am the English-speaking primary caregiver. I have two children and my dh is a native speaker of Berber and Arabic (and also speaks his very colonial French). Because of the stresses of circumstances and I suppose a lack of mindfulness, we now have two older children who are struggling to catch something in these languages. I have a little of each too, but a semester's worth of French and my very elementary Arabic are little to no help most days. We lived until recently in a suburban-to-rural area in US where English is all there is.

 

Fast-forward a couple years and we are now living in UAE, where Arabic is a school requirement. Regardless, quality education in Arabic is nearly nonexistent and where found, outrageously expensive. We've found an excellent tutor and pulled our kids from school there to work at home, so they will have more time and focus on their language learning. Two years in, my children are beginning to understand the gist of some overheard conversations, maybe some news reports. And this is all with the extra effort and time we put in. UAE is expressing a crisis these days, in that Arabic is being lost (to English) there. English is the primary language of instruction (although there are French and I think also Chinese schools), and the transient nature of most of the expat community means a lot of turnover both in teachers and students. This means that even in middle to upper grades, even with differentiation between native and non-native families, there are so many low-level language learners coming into class that nearly every year is a repeat of greetings, colors, shopping words, etc.

 

The struggle for us is that we know the cultural exposure is really good for our kids, and we want them to get the language, too. Arabic is a fascinating language to me, too. I study with the same tutor as my kids, in my own sessions. We have learned to ready pretty well by now, and I am moving now into conversational language. We're focusing on MSA, because we don't use the language "in real life" much, and either kid would likely end up with at least a quasi-academic use for it. I do have a pretty good grasp of a North African dialect, which is not much use outside North Africa. I learned it almost entirely without learning to really read, so learning to read has been a big deal for me.

 

All this to suggest bringing new baby and dh on board to maybe help instill a little more pride with the language/culture. One cool thing my kids have discovered is that languages are codes; dh and I do that thing grown-ups sometimes do, where we speak a common (non-English) language together in front of the kids and they have no idea what we're saying. Rude, maybe, but it always tweaks their motivation a little. What if dd1 were enlisted to help teach Dad and new sister as a point of family pride? Not to suggest that Dad's fluency is a goal, but maybe less of a feeling of either-or, to the exclusion of someone in your own little tribe? Would Dad be on board to get in on the fun?

06-17-2013 05:00 PM
lilitchka oh, and i wanted to add: growing up in a bilangual family, when people forced me to speak a certain language, it never worked. it also never worked when i tried to force my dad to speak a certain language. no one can force anyone to speak a certain language.
so Op, your daugher can't force you to speak a certain language.
that's just a fact.
06-17-2013 04:56 PM
lilitchka we are purists in a sence of never speaking majority language to our kids.
we have sons, almst 4 y.o and a 15 months.
we live in a bilangual community ( 70% english, 30%french).
i speak only russian to our kids, regardless of where we are and who is with us.
dh speaks only arabic to them.
me and dh are both fluent in our 2 home languages and in the 2 community languages.
I speak to dh mostly arabic with some french.

we chose to work both part time mostly to mak sure our kids learn our mother tongues. so they don't go to daycare/preschool and don't speak any french or english.

ds1 isluent in both arabic and russian at his age appropriate level.


what ould I do if I was OP.....probably what you have been doing up until now: divert attention, playfull answer etc.
i really feel that this will pass!
05-24-2013 03:22 AM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragana View Post


Yep, I was not the primary caregiver and speak the non-dominant language, so I'm glad my kids speak at all.


Yea, I'm not the primary caregiver either. It's very challenging!

05-24-2013 03:21 AM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post

I agree.  You know, I was just thinking this same thing the other day, and that it's not called the "mother tongue" for nothing.

 

Speaking of "mother tongue." Do you know that cool piece entitled "Mother Tongue" by Amy Tan? Raises very interesting issues about language.

05-24-2013 03:19 AM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post
Wouldn't it be cool if you could find an Arabic-speaking mother who would be willing to volunteer to come to your dd's pre-school (which I assume will have few Arabic-speaking children) for just twenty minute each week to teach the pre-school kids some super-simple conversational Arabic? 

 

Again, nothing fancy, but really easy baby stuff. 

 

 

Sorry for the belated response, emilysmama. End of semester drama has kept me busy!

 

One thing is clear: you and I share a brain!

 

We have scant options for pre-schooling where I am in the sense that they are either full day daycares (which we don't don't want because of scheduling and content), church affiliated day-schools (which we don't want because of the religious instruction) or really expensive secular day schools (which we can't afford).

 

Then, I found out that one of our Music professors sends her daughters to a pre-school the next town over, but not very far. And, she volunteers as a music teacher there every Friday!

 

So a few months back we visited them, and I pitched the idea of doing something similar. What if I came in every week for an hour or so and gave the three groups a mini-Arabic lesson, just super simple stuff? The manager was very excited about this!

 

We liked this school more than others because of the diversity. Many of the children are Asian-American (especially Indian), and none of them batted an eye when DD and I spoke Arabic in front of them. We actually visited another school where the kids (4 years olds mind you!) immediately began making fun of DD and me for speaking Arabic. One of them actually said to me:"Can you make her speak English, please?" 

 

So, for all the reasons you explained so articulately, I am going to do this at the pre-school she'll be going to. But mostly, it's to reinforce the value of Arabic and being an Arab for my daughter. Can you imagine the kind of shame that would develop in an environment where people make fun of you for being bilingual? If DD can see that other kids want to learn Arabic and that she's good at something they are eager to learn, then that will go a long way in validating her cultural identity and bilingualism.

 

Our college is totally about engaging with the wider community, so there might be a project in this somewhere. And of course, I'll put you down as co-author! There's a huge humanities conference in Hawaii every January. How about it? :)

 

Actually, reading to DD all of those books has got me interested in Arabic children's literature and gender. Isn't it fun how you can combine your passions: parenting and scholarship!

 

Thanks for your posts! I really enjoy them, and they make me feel less alone.

05-22-2013 12:06 PM
emilysmama

Diyabolo,

 

I saw in your post that your dd will be going to preschool next year, and I have an idea that you may or may not like.  

 

So first, here is what gave me the idea:

 

My dd (9 y.o.) has been going to a humungous day care center since she was 6 months old.  (Full time until Kindergarten. Since beginning of kindergarten, after school during the school year, and full-time during the summers.)

 

Last summer, my daughter told me that once a week, every week, the day care teaches the children Chinese during the summer!   I questioned my daughter further for details.  It seems that every Tuesday, a lady (perhaps one of the mothers of one of the daycare kids), came to the daycare to teach the children Chinese.  (Now, this day care has a ton of kids, and each age group is organized by age.  You know, they have an infant room, an early toddler's room, a toddler's room, an early K-3 class, a regular K-3 class, a K-4 class, a transitional K-5 class for kindergarteners, and a school-age class for grades 1 and above (technically up to the age of 12, but realistically probably only up to grade 5.)  Anyway, it seems that this Chinese teacher goes from one classroom to another and spends ~30 minutes at each classroom teaching the children Chinese.  (I'm sure that she doesn't do the 2 year olds of course, but my daughter said that she did the pre-school age classes and the school-age class, and she did each class separately for obvious reasons.) 

 

Real simple stuff, of course, because there are maybe only 2 children in the entire daycare who can speak any Chinese at all, and kids lose attention pretty fast.  Things like how to say "Thank you", "Hello", "Good-bye" for the preschoolers. Learning the basic phonetic sounds (pinyin) spoken in Chinese, and putting the sounds together to learn to pronounce simple Chinese words, for the school-age kids because they have the ability to read and pronounce English letters of the alphabet.

 

I have no idea if this lady was a volunteer, or if she was paid a token amount by the daycare, but I think that last summer was amazing in ways that weren't initially obvious to me.

 

1.  The children in the daycare were exposed to a tiny sliver of my daughter's culture.  I hesitate to sound insensitive, but the fact is that my daughter's daycare reflects the demographics of the small city that I live in.  When my dd was in K-4, every single girl in her class (except my dd) had fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes.

 

2.  The children in the daycare were proud that they were "learning" to speak Chinese.  It is the first introduction to these "American" children have that the idea of knowing how to speak Chinese is cool, and not something to hide in shame. Eventually, in a few years, these children might go to the schools with my dd, and perhaps this idea will grow.  (Planting this tiny seed of good-will is not entirely far-fetched, I believe, based on another experience that I have had.  During the year before my dd entered elementary school, the elementary school had a full-time teacher from Taiwan teach all of the elementary school classes Chinese for a year.  Nothing fancy, just one hour per week, per classroom.  So it's not like they would learn to actually speak Chinese, but they would get a little taste and perhaps someday still be interested enough to eventually take a Chinese course in college.  Learn how to say some key conversational phrases, sing a few songs.  Just like how my dd's elementary school "teaches" the children Spanish. Certainly not an immersion.The money for the Chinese teacher ran out right when my daughter entered kindergarten, so the Chinese teacher was gone by the time my dd entered that school.   However, to this very day, four years later after the teacher left, there are still random children from the fourth and fifth grades of my dd's elementary school who come up to me and reminisce fondly about this experience of learning Chinese.)

 

3.  My daughter is exposed to the idea that the other day care kids think that it is "cool" that my dd knows how to speak Chinese, and experience a little bit of what my dd had to struggle to master as a toddler.

 

Now finally, here is my idea for you:

 

Wouldn't it be cool if you could find an Arabic-speaking mother who would be willing to volunteer to come to your dd's pre-school (which I assume will have few Arabic-speaking children) for just twenty minute each week to teach the pre-school kids some super-simple conversational Arabic? 

 

Again, nothing fancy, but really easy baby stuff. 

 

For example, one week, the preschoolers could learn the English meaning of some common very simple Arabic names (i.e. Amir, Hassan, etc.).  I know that even now, in the third grade, my dd would enjoy learning that type of thing because about 5% of the kids in her school have Arabic-based first names and most girls like knowing the meaning behind all children's names.  If you didn't have the time or inclination to do the teaching yourself (I know that I wouldn't), but were willing to coordinate with the pre-school,  then I think it might be easy for you to line up a stay-at-home Arabic speaking mother who would be eager to do this. 

 

Maybe another week, send in several Arabic-speaking mothers, who come from different countries, not just from the Middle East, to the preschool.  (I.e. Indonesia, Northern Africa, France, etc.)

 

Again, not that I know anything, but maybe the local Imam might get excited about this as a way to reach out to the local community to instill a little bit of good will, and might even help out with identifying an available creative volunteer who loves working with young children. (I know that our local mosque works very hard to build an open relationship with the local community.)  I would assume that an Imam would immediately recognize the need for such instruction to be secular.  After all, these are 3 and 4 year olds, who have the attention span of a gnat, being raised in a different culture. 

 

In fact, I'll bet that if you pitched this just right, the pre-school would be really excited about it.  After all, educational institutions are really big about diversity these days, this would be much less liability than a field trip but just as interesting to the children, and it would be FREE and educational.  You might even consider telling the pre-school that this is an "economic development issue" for the part of the U.S. where you live.  (That's what one of my colleagues once told the school superintendent when throwing in his support for the superintendent's plan to create a public Chinese Immersion pre-school over here.) You just have to figure out how to state it in language that they can understand.  I'm sure that you probably already know all of the buzzwords that are used by people who educate children.  I suppose you could even look up your state's curriculum guidelines for grades P-12, and point out which state standards would be addressed by this idea.  Pre-schools love that kind of thing because it is marketable.

 

And, you know what?  Because you are a professor, I wonder if you could somehow tie this in so that you can have this count at your workplace. (Depends on your academic discipline, but even if this is not very close to your academic discipline, most academic institutions encourage professors to stretch their research interests because it encourages interdisciplinary collaborations and unusual funding opportunities.)  Maybe get a publication or a conference presentation out of this? Obviously, not your primary research interest area, but many professors also have a side interest and this one might have the potential to grow enough to someday earn your bread and butter?  (Now that is REALLY a long shot, but who knows?  Just keep your eyes open in case opportunity knocks.  And don't forget to make me a minor co-author.  :D)

05-22-2013 06:04 AM
Ragana
Quote:
Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post

I agree.  You know, I was just thinking this same thing the other day, and that it's not called the "mother tongue" for nothing.


Yep, I was not the primary caregiver and speak the non-dominant language, so I'm glad my kids speak at all.

05-21-2013 07:14 PM
emilysmama
Quote:
Originally Posted by babymommy2 View Post
I do think if mom is the primary caregiver and speaks the non dominant lang there is a better chance of ending up biligual

I agree.  You know, I was just thinking this same thing the other day, and that it's not called the "mother tongue" for nothing.

05-21-2013 06:47 PM
emilysmama
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diyabolo View Post

 

These are fantastic! I do versions of these with DD myself, but I totally will do the jenga! What's number 8? Not sure which shaving cream activity you mean (actually, I don't know any :)

 

Thanks emilysmama!

Shaving cream:  I forget exactly.  I think she spread a layer of shaving cream onto a cookie sheet or some other flat surface, and had the children stick index finger into the shaving cream to "write" Chinese characters?  It is a common teaching technique that regular teachers do with children who learn by doing (kinesthetic? learners).  I'm assuming that the teacher found out about it on the internet and adapted it to suit her objective. She also found craft ideas for kids on the internet and adapted them for learning Chinese.

 

Jenga:  She put a little piece of making tape at the end of each Jenga block, and wrote the Chinese character onto the masking tape.  So she could have changed the words on the blocks to suit her lesson, if she had wished.

 

The teacher just announced that she is pregnant, so she won't be able to teach in the foreseeable future, and probably not for many years.  So sad we are losing her because she will be an extremely tough act to follow.  (Every single one of my Chinese school teachers as a child was really boring, and I had a lot of them.)  But I am happy for her, and I will just keep telling myself to be grateful for the two years with her and that she has laid a very strong foundation on which to build.

05-21-2013 06:07 PM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post

There is lots of hope for you. Maybe it won't stop with her.  I am second generation, and I have to say that I'm not very impressive.  Back when I was a child, assimilation was very important, not cultural identity.  However, my dd is third generation and I put a high priority on bilingualism, and somehow dd turned out to be really very impressive.  My dd has to work much harder than her second generation friends, and she is much smarter than I ever was, but I always have a hard time believing that my dd was able to do as well as she has.

 

Your daughter sounds like she is already on course to get to where you want.  You've given her a really strong foundation, and it sounds like she is really smart.  Because of your hard work, she's already got the tools to carry it on to the next generation, if she decides to make it a priority when she has children.

 

Plus, when your daughter becomes a mother, she will have YOU.  That will be really important.  Even if, for some reason, your child eventually loses the ability to speak in Arabic, you can talk to your grandchildren in Arabic.  (My mom talks to my dd in Chinese for only one or two hours a week, and it is a huge help.)  But more important, you already understand the importance of speaking only Arabic.  It took me years to convince my mother to not speak English to my dd.  My mother and I had terrible fights over this. My mother says that, after living in the U.S. for 4.5 decades, it is too difficult for an old lady to just stick to Chinese and no English.  Your daughter won't have to try to convince you that it is worth the extra effort, because you already know that.

 

Thanks, emilysmama. Your posts have been so encouraging!  And of course, you're right. I will be there for my grandchildren. I'm not sure why I didn't think of that. I have a tenuous relationship with my own mother, so that's probably why. Although I can safely say that the most important person in my life has been my own grandmother. She was an illiterate village woman but probably the smartest and strongest woman I have ever known.  Again, many thanks for your posts.

05-21-2013 06:00 PM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragana View Post

Yes, we are a stubborn people! orngtongue.gif
 

 

Hey, I hear ya! I'm Palestinian! We're really stubborn :)

05-21-2013 05:59 PM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post

The hardest part would be to find just the right teacher.  The typical mother would make it boring and dull.  You want to find someone who is fun and very imaginative and creative. 

 

Here are some things that my dd's teacher did. 

 

The teacher would take common board games purchased from a thrift store and modify them slightly.  (1) For example, do you know the game Jenga, with the blocks that you form into a tall tower, and you have to slide out a block at a time?  As the tower progressively gets more and more unstable, the tower eventually tumbles down in a great crash?  Well, she prepared the blocks by writing a Chinese word at the end of each block.  So before each turn, the child had to read the Chinese word out loud before sliding out the chosen block.

 

(2) She modified the board game Candyland in a very clever way, too.  

 

(3) She had the kids do a simple seasonal craft  whenever the appropriate secular holiday came up. (Mother's Day card, decorating a paper heart doily for Valentine's Day, etc. with the Chinese word for "mother" or "love" childishly written in the middle ) 

 

(4) There was singing songs with dance steps

 

(5) To teach the writing of simple words, she had the kids stand in single file and use index finger to write on the back of the child in front

 

(6) Fingerpainting or brush painting to learn to write the Chinese word of the day

 

(7) Making playdough and then using the playdough to form simple Chinese characters

 

(8) A very popular learning activity involving shaving cream

 

These are fantastic! I do versions of these with DD myself, but I totally will do the jenga! What's number 8? Not sure which shaving cream activity you mean (actually, I don't know any :)

 

Thanks emilysmama!

05-21-2013 05:55 PM
Diyabolo

Responses in bold in the quoted area:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post

 

 

Diyabolo,

 

IsaFrench has a good suggestion. You only need two to four more children to make the playgroup a fun experience. The children don't even have to be exactly the same age.  My dd was 7, and the other kids were 6, 5, 4, 4, 4.  I think you could find those children more easily than you'd think. 

 

Three families chipping in for a person to lead the playgroup works out to be very reasonable. 

 

If you pitched it to other parents correctly, I'll bet that you could even find those children from among the children who attend the religious based Arabic instruction.  I think you would want to sell the secular playgroup as a SUPPLEMENT, and not a substitute, for the Saturday school. Perhaps then you would find enough interested parents.  If the parents understood that formal language instruction is very different from instruction about everyday conversation, then you might be able to generate interest from some of the parents.  For example, when I went to Chinese school as a kid, we learned only boring vocabulary words that are important for adults to learn, like "Thank you" and "Your welcome".  My daughter is learning those things too, but she is also learning vocabulary words that are important for kids' everyday life, like  "slide", "teeter-totter", "ghost", "Halloween". 

 

Not every parent in the Arabic community will see that it is important to learn how to speak Arabic as an everyday language, but you only need one or two families who see this as a cultural preservation issue in order to have enough kids to make this work.

 

Not that I know what I am talking about, but I would think that the local Imam might be very excited and supportive about an idea like this, and would probably see the value of a secular based learning experience.  I mean, you would want a child to speak Arabic during the other six days of the week talking about normal things, not just on Saturdays for a couple of hours during Saturday school, so that the religious learning on Saturdays becomes more effective.

 

You wouldn't even have to do this on Saturday.  You could do it on a different day of the week. You could do two hours a week, with a snack time where each child brings his own snack.  (Or if the other parents preferred, you could do it on Saturday for just one hour, after the religious based class is dismissed.  That would be very convenient for the parents whose children attend Saturday school.)

 

This is a great idea! I think once the new baby arrives, and DD goes to preschool next year, I will definitely do this.

 

 

Well, the above doesn't sound unbelievable to me, because that is exactly what happened to me! My "maternity leave" consisted of first using up all of my sick days, and then going on 67% pay short term disability.  Still, I considered myself lucky, because it's more than most people get, even in academia. 

 

Usually, if you're going to be on leave for a future semester, you dump it on the department chair to find someone to cover the courses.  Well, I was the department chair at the time, so yours truly had to find people to teach my 4 courses (physics) for the semester that I was planning to be on leave. That is NOT a relaxing way to prepare to go on maternity leave.  Especially because my Dean told me that he would not hire a full time person to cover my classes for the semester.  I was told to use adjuncts and put it together piecemeal.  The problem was that I could not find any qualified adjuncts.  Fortunately for me, the chair of the math department was very sweet and let me borrow one of his Lecturers (who just happened to have graduated with a double major in physics) for a semester.  So before you become chair, make sure and become friendly with the other department chairs!

 

Wow! That must have been very challenging. And very similar situations, but we've got a 3/3 load with one course release for chairing. Our school is so small (very small liberal arts college), so it's really easy to interact and cooperate with other faculty and staff.

 

Our sabbaticals are like yours.  No one here takes one year at reduced pay, so the only real option most of us here take is one semester at full pay.

 

It's hard being a woman/mother in academia! I had no idea until I did it :)

05-21-2013 07:40 AM
emilysmama
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diyabolo View Post

 

Third generation! Ragana, that is amazing!!! I came to the US for graduate school as an adult, so my daughter is only first generation. I keep thinking: it might work with DD, but then what? If she has any children, what might it be like for them? I suspect that the language will stop with her :( Still, I got to do what I got to do and that's all I can worry about.

There is lots of hope for you. Maybe it won't stop with her.  I am second generation, and I have to say that I'm not very impressive.  Back when I was a child, assimilation was very important, not cultural identity.  However, my dd is third generation and I put a high priority on bilingualism, and somehow dd turned out to be really very impressive.  My dd has to work much harder than her second generation friends, and she is much smarter than I ever was, but I always have a hard time believing that my dd was able to do as well as she has.

 

Your daughter sounds like she is already on course to get to where you want.  You've given her a really strong foundation, and it sounds like she is really smart.  Because of your hard work, she's already got the tools to carry it on to the next generation, if she decides to make it a priority when she has children.

 

Plus, when your daughter becomes a mother, she will have YOU.  That will be really important.  Even if, for some reason, your child eventually loses the ability to speak in Arabic, you can talk to your grandchildren in Arabic.  (My mom talks to my dd in Chinese for only one or two hours a week, and it is a huge help.)  But more important, you already understand the importance of speaking only Arabic.  It took me years to convince my mother to not speak English to my dd.  My mother and I had terrible fights over this. My mother says that, after living in the U.S. for 4.5 decades, it is too difficult for an old lady to just stick to Chinese and no English.  Your daughter won't have to try to convince you that it is worth the extra effort, because you already know that.

05-21-2013 07:22 AM
emilysmama

The hardest part would be to find just the right teacher.  The typical mother would make it boring and dull.  You want to find someone who is fun and very imaginative and creative. 

 

Here are some things that my dd's teacher did. 

 

The teacher would take common board games purchased from a thrift store and modify them slightly.  (1) For example, do you know the game Jenga, with the blocks that you form into a tall tower, and you have to slide out a block at a time?  As the tower progressively gets more and more unstable, the tower eventually tumbles down in a great crash?  Well, she prepared the blocks by writing a Chinese word at the end of each block.  So before each turn, the child had to read the Chinese word out loud before sliding out the chosen block.

 

(2) She modified the board game Candyland in a very clever way, too.  

 

(3) She had the kids do a simple seasonal craft  whenever the appropriate secular holiday came up. (Mother's Day card, decorating a paper heart doily for Valentine's Day, etc. with the Chinese word for "mother" or "love" childishly written in the middle ) 

 

(4) There was singing songs with dance steps

 

(5) To teach the writing of simple words, she had the kids stand in single file and use index finger to write on the back of the child in front

 

(6) Fingerpainting or brush painting to learn to write the Chinese word of the day

 

(7) Making playdough and then using the playdough to form simple Chinese characters

 

(8) A very popular learning activity involving shaving cream

05-21-2013 06:49 AM
Ragana

Yes, we are a stubborn people! orngtongue.gif
 

05-21-2013 06:47 AM
emilysmama

Edited to add:  OOPS!  We posted at the same time.  I posted before I saw your post that you have a teacher coming in on Sunday.  Sorry for the cross-purposes.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Diyabolo View Post

 

To clarify about Arabic schooling. We do actually have it, but it's Islamic focused Arabic instruction, and a lot of the instruction is in English,except the Qur'an.  So, as I am not religiously inclined, this kind of Arabic schooling is not for me.  While I am heartened by your optimism, I suspect that a secular Arabic education won't really gain much traction here. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaFrench View Post
OP, would it be possible for you to advertise for a Saturday school teacher AND for other students whose parents would be willing to enrol them in "your" seculart arabic language Saturday school ? There's bound to be other parents like you who are not willing to let their kids learn Arabic as is currently taught locally to you but are mourning the chance of having a "non-parent" do a once a week secular arabic class ? ... you would then share costs ...

 

Diyabolo,

 

IsaFrench has a good suggestion. You only need two to four more children to make the playgroup a fun experience. The children don't even have to be exactly the same age.  My dd was 7, and the other kids were 6, 5, 4, 4, 4.  I think you could find those children more easily than you'd think. 

 

Three families chipping in for a person to lead the playgroup works out to be very reasonable. 

 

If you pitched it to other parents correctly, I'll bet that you could even find those children from among the children who attend the religious based Arabic instruction.  I think you would want to sell the secular playgroup as a SUPPLEMENT, and not a substitute, for the Saturday school. Perhaps then you would find enough interested parents.  If the parents understood that formal language instruction is very different from instruction about everyday conversation, then you might be able to generate interest from some of the parents.  For example, when I went to Chinese school as a kid, we learned only boring vocabulary words that are important for adults to learn, like "Thank you" and "Your welcome".  My daughter is learning those things too, but she is also learning vocabulary words that are important for kids' everyday life, like  "slide", "teeter-totter", "ghost", "Halloween". 

 

Not every parent in the Arabic community will see that it is important to learn how to speak Arabic as an everyday language, but you only need one or two families who see this as a cultural preservation issue in order to have enough kids to make this work.

 

Not that I know what I am talking about, but I would think that the local Imam might be very excited and supportive about an idea like this, and would probably see the value of a secular based learning experience.  I mean, you would want a child to speak Arabic during the other six days of the week talking about normal things, not just on Saturdays for a couple of hours during Saturday school, so that the religious learning on Saturdays becomes more effective.

 

You wouldn't even have to do this on Saturday.  You could do it on a different day of the week. You could do two hours a week, with a snack time where each child brings his own snack.  (Or if the other parents preferred, you could do it on Saturday for just one hour, after the religious based class is dismissed.  That would be very convenient for the parents whose children attend Saturday school.)

 

 

 

 

Quote from Diyabolo:
Thank you for your congratulations!!! I am not taking my sabbatical next year; I can't even take maternity leave.  Now this will sound unbelievable, but my institution does not have full pay maternity leave, only reduced pay "disability leave." AND I actually begin chairing the department next year, so it's going to be challenging for a while. At any rate, our sabbaticals are similar --only one semester at full pay or 1 year at reduced pay and only if all other factors click in for the administration.  So I suspect I will apply for sabbatical in a year or so at which point I do hope I will have saved some money.

Well, the above doesn't sound unbelievable to me, because that is exactly what happened to me! My "maternity leave" consisted of first using up all of my sick days, and then going on 67% pay short term disability.  Still, I considered myself lucky, because it's more than most people get, even in academia. 

 

Usually, if you're going to be on leave for a future semester, you dump it on the department chair to find someone to cover the courses.  Well, I was the department chair at the time, so yours truly had to find people to teach my 4 courses (physics) for the semester that I was planning to be on leave. That is NOT a relaxing way to prepare to go on maternity leave.  Especially because my Dean told me that he would not hire a full time person to cover my classes for the semester.  I was told to use adjuncts and put it together piecemeal.  The problem was that I could not find any qualified adjuncts.  Fortunately for me, the chair of the math department was very sweet and let me borrow one of his Lecturers (who just happened to have graduated with a double major in physics) for a semester.  So before you become chair, make sure and become friendly with the other department chairs!

 

Our sabbaticals are like yours.  No one here takes one year at reduced pay, so the only real option most of us here take is one semester at full pay.

05-21-2013 06:07 AM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragana View Post

I have to +1 everything you've said, emilysmama!! It took me a long time to realize this. My DH always tries to talk me down and tell me that it's amazing that our community has any heritage speakers at all in the third generation. Again, I chalk up my expectations to occupational hazard being a translator. In our industry everyone's language skills get scrutinized to the n-th degree, and rightly so - for that context, not for others.

 

Third generation! Ragana, that is amazing!!! I came to the US for graduate school as an adult, so my daughter is only first generation. I keep thinking: it might work with DD, but then what? If she has any children, what might it be like for them? I suspect that the language will stop with her :( Still, I got to do what I got to do and that's all I can worry about.

05-21-2013 06:03 AM
Diyabolo
Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaFrench View Post

 

OP, would it be possible for you to advertise for a Saturday school teacher AND for other students whose parents would be willing to enrol them in "your" seculart arabic language Saturday school ? There's bound to be other parents like you who are not willing to let their kids learn Arabic as is currently taught locally to you but are mourning the chance of having a "non-parent" do a once a week secular arabic class ? ... you would then share costs ...

 

Hi, IsaFrench! Yes, and we do actually have a teacher that comes on Sunday to teach her (not very expensive). This is mostly for reinforcement (other people speak Arabic in the world besides Mama, and Arabic is a serious subject that you actually have to study kind of thing). I do a lot of the "teaching" myself. DD knows her Arabic letters (verbally and by sight) and can write some of them and read small words. None of this happened through formal instructions -- just lots and lots of reading. The teacher is from the aforementioned school (Islamic/Arabic), and although she's only been in the US for four years, she still uses English words frequently with DD.  It's not ideal, but it's better than nothing.

05-21-2013 05:57 AM
Diyabolo
Quote:

It might be useful, OP, to explain to your child why you make the choices you do - weave them into your conversations. Maybe you do that already (it has been a few days since I read the whole thread).

 

I agree, and I try to do that as age-appropriately and sometimes as "subliminally" as possible. So for example, instead of emphasizing the significance of the language outright (and I do that as well), I frequently tell her stories about my grandmother in Palestine or highlight other important cultural and ethnic artifacts, events, histories etc., all of which are intimately tied with the Arabic language. Because this world exists only in Arabic, I am banking on the idea that her love for one will necessitate her love for the other, and that Arabic then becomes the medium through which the magic and wonder of this world happens.

05-21-2013 05:41 AM
Ragana
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
I actually come from an area with language issues (Quebec).  People who are "true" Quebecoise are said to be "pure laine"  (pure wool - or dyed in the wool.) It is distasteful, to say the least.  Interestingly, it is a sort of discrimination that turns in on itself - some Francophones in Quebec define other Francophones as "pure laine" or not  - us English sorts are not any sort of wool, I guess.  

 

I definitely sympathize with your POV. My community is similar - small, insular, hierarchical. Things have changed since I was a kid: in the past some parents did not let their kids play with the kids who spoke mostly/only English - I am not joking, and yes, it's terrible; I have friends who suffered through this. But there has always a sort of unspoken - and sometimes spoken - hierarchy in our community with the kids whose parents are both from our community and speak the language well at the top and those who don't speak the language well or have one English-speaking parent on a lower rung. It's an ugly truth, but one that people seem to be getting past FINALLY, thank goodness.

 

PS My daughter equates this situation to Harry Potter where there are wizards from wizarding families and then there are the "muggle born." I thought it was interesting that she made that connection.

05-21-2013 05:36 AM
Ragana
Quote:
Originally Posted by emilysmama View Post

One more thing, on a totally different subject.   Naomi Steiner spoke of something that lowered my anxiety level considerably.  One of the myths that she busted was that bilingual is black and white, you either have it or you don't.  Your child can either speak perfectly, or not.  But her point is that being bilingual is a continuum.  Even if your child doesn't speak like a native, or even speak at all, if your child can understand, then that is HUGE. 

 

I have to +1 everything you've said, emilysmama!! It took me a long time to realize this. My DH always tries to talk me down and tell me that it's amazing that our community has any heritage speakers at all in the third generation. Again, I chalk up my expectations to occupational hazard being a translator. In our industry everyone's language skills get scrutinized to the n-th degree, and rightly so - for that context, not for others.

05-21-2013 05:33 AM
Ragana
Quote:
Originally Posted by Diyabolo View Post
And yes, kindergarten will be the challenge. I am planning on enrolling her in a magnet Spanish immersion school (if we get in; it's lottery). Not only will she get another language, but I think it will diffuse the totalizing effect of English. All three languages will be on equal footing, or at least that's how I am rationalizing it. Who knows what's really going to happen.

 

I am a worrier and as scholar of literature am obsessed with language and identity politics -- occupational hazard :)

My kids are in Spanish immersion as well! What is helpful is seeing other kids growing up with a different home language. Also they were pretty fearless about going into immersion not understanding anything. They do tell me sometimes that after a day of two languages already, speaking their third at home can be tiring, but it hasn't been a major issue.

 

Similar occupational hazard being a translator! My expectations were very high & I had to dial them back a bit, not be so critical, and realize WOW, I have trilingual kids!! It's a lot of work and may not turn out exactly how I expect, but it will pay off for them in the end.

05-20-2013 10:36 PM
IsaFrench

I do think if mom is the primary caregiver and speaks the non dominant lang there is a better chance of ending up biligual

 

totally agree with that (= not my case, am now the dominant language speaker, in "my" country, i struggle with DS)

 

OP, would it be possible for you to advertise for a Saturday school teacher AND for other students whose parents would be willing to enrol them in "your" seculart arabic language Saturday school ? There's bound to be other parents like you who are not willing to let their kids learn Arabic as is currently taught locally to you but are mourning the chance of having a "non-parent" do a once a week secular arabic class ? ... you would then share costs ...

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