So “Texpats” was taken. I wasn’t about to dish out like $3K to buy it when I was browsing domain names. I don’t have to explain that Texpats comes from Texas + Expats, right? But if I did, it’s totally my bad for not filling you in and now you know. I stuck “Trilingual” in front of our name at the risk of sounding pretentious. But, it simply and plainly is part of who we are–definitely not the pretentious part–rather the trilingual/multicultural part 啦. So here I am, trying to maintain multilingualism with my now expatriate kiddos. Share-blogging the mess of it because it’s never a super easy endeavor when you live in places where your target language(s) is/are the minority language.
So I want to encourage the mamas and the papas who are considering teaching their kids a foreign language. Why not? Give OPOL or ML@H or any other method that can consistently work for your family a try. Perseverance is paramount. Disclaimer: It may be that your takeaways from my
rants blog posts would be “what not to do” or “how not to do it”. You have been forewarned.
For the time being…and indefinitely…I cannot afford stuff like au pairs and nannies to help with language support, and I also work part time from home, so my resources and time are limited. Homeschooling was also not a viable option for our family. But I am scrappy and stubborn, so I’m committing to teaching my kids to maintain speaking and reading in Chinese, Spanish, and English. Previously Spanish and Chinese were the minority/target languages while living in Texas. Regardless, all four kids (ages 2 through 8) do currently speak Mandarin, Spanish, and English. The two elementary aged kids can read and write Spanish and English. Here in Colombia we have enrolled our kids in an American International School that will have main subjects taught in English and electives taught in Spanish, so English ✅ and Spanish ✅. JieJie and GeGe will be “full time” and Didi and MeiMei will be “part time”. Time to double down on the Chinese component! 💪🏻 加油 to me! I’ll have to work on boosting my own Chinese reading along with my kids. #learningchinesewithmykids
If you want a quick read of a “what’s the deal with raising multilingual kids anyway” kind of article, here’s one to get you started: https://theweek.com/articles/781457/how-raise-multilingual-kids.
After over a week of being here in Colombia, unpacking, cleaning, sorting, finding, buying housewares, washing, driving all over town hunting things down, enrolling the kids in school and activities, etc…today was the first day that exhibited some sort of recognizable structure. I have not had time to set up a lesson schedule; nor do I have a printer yet to print out the Chinese worksheet printables I have found, but I’m just going for it while we are still settling in and before school starts next week. I’m wanting my kids to get in the habit of “learning Chinese is part of what we do”. With JieJie all I have to do is say “and we will earn stickers on a sticker chart by doing so and so” and she’s golden, but with GeGe I needed today to feel out his capacity. Regardless of how “fun” I try to make it, he needs tangible motivation. Mama’s earnest pleas won’t cut it when it comes to something academic. So, don’t judge, but it’s going to be screen time. There I said it out in the o-p-e-n. We try to regulate screen time in our house, so this form of motivation works for now. Stickers for screen time. I’ll let them choose a cartoon or show on Netflix or YouTube IN CHINESE. 😏 Win-win.
We kicked off the morning with extra snuggles while I reminded them that we will be starting some Chinese learning at home. No one grumbled about that at all. ⬅️ Did you actually believe that?! I have young, human children, you know. Then we decorated some yummy pancakes (thank goodness for the Krusteaz pancake mix we bought this weekend at Price Smart, the Colombian Costco!).
JieJie started with the Sagebooks, book 1 from the blue set (Sage 1.1). For starters I had her read through it, trace the characters, and pull out the flash cards from our flashcards kit. That’s just to get the 3rd grader acclimated with the book and to ready the flashcards.
We were short one character, but I’ll just print my own card–as soon as I can procure that printer that’s on sale from Éxito. Once we get our car. Yeah, limited resources for reals.
While GeGe waited for the Sagebook (he will start at the same level, but I’m thinking it will be at a slower pace than his older sister) to become available, he worked on reviewing basic vocabulary. He also led his younger siblings on a color scavenger hunt around the apartment.
DiDi and MeiMei quizzed each other on colors too. 😂😂😂
I had promised to take them swimming, so we took a swimming break, lunch break, nap break (for MeiMei), ballet break (first day of class here for JieJie), and then finally over dinner GeGe and I worked on his reading.
We will press on reading and rereading book 1 and work on flashcards, utilize a Chinese writing practice app, play activities, and do some worksheets. I finally found a study schedule on the Sage blog: https://sagebooksblog.com/set-up-study-schedule/. I am a Heritage Chinese speaker but I can’t actually read proficiently in Chinese, so I use my iPhone’s highlight and speak function to help me get through pages of Chinese text. If you’re in my similar situation, know that there are also several language reading apps you can find online. You could also simply Google translate the entire page when you use Chrome as your internet browser.
We got the 山 (mountain) character down. Woohoo. It’s going to be a marathon with this endeavor, not a sprint.