Now and then, I like to steal some time to visit Sarahâ€™s blog brining up baby bilingual. Sarah, a former French teacher, now a mom and part-time public library reading program coordinator, writes down her exploration of raising children with more than one language and her efforts to teach French as a non-native speaker to her son Griffin, her nephew Carl, and assorted kid and adult tutees.
On her blog, Sarah also puts on profiles of bilingual and multilingual families, resource recommendations, book reviews, discussion prompts, descriptions of games and language learning activities, andâ€”of courseâ€”stories about Griffin and Carl!
I always get useful information from Sarahâ€™s blog, even for learning Chinese!
This time, I run into a post that really caught my attention. It is about a profile of Susan Herrick Siu and her multilingual family.
Susan H. Siu?! Is she the Susan H. Siu whom I work with for the bilingual book I drink mommyâ€™s milk?
The answer is yes.
I have been amazed at Susan since the first day I met her via my blog (more details will be unfold later). I know she has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa and five years of experience teaching French, rhetoric, communications, nonfiction writing, and business communication at the college level and about ten years of freelance academic editing experience.
She has lived in four different countries and six states. She can speak fluent (but somewhat rusty) French; intermediate-level Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Italian, and German; and bits and pieces of other languages. Currently, she is a writer, chief-editor and publisher of her own publishing company, Worldâ€™s Edge Books & PublishingÂ (quite impressive, isnâ€™t she?).
Therefore, with little doubt, Chinese is one of the languages Susan wants her children to master. And it looks like her children are doing quite well in acquiring three languages at the same time.
In the profile, Susan advises us not to be shy, and take every opportunity that comes your way to give your children practice in the language(s) that they are learning.
What touched my heart deeply was Susanâ€™s suggestion to getting other parents, schools, communities, and the nation at large involved. I cannot agree more with her opinions. Yes, we need to work with local community to get our voices heard, use and create more resources for kids for learn foreign languages. We parents have to take the first step.
With Sarahâ€™s permission, I quoted Susanâ€™s advice here, hoping to spread her words so that more and more bilingual family or parents who want to raise children bilingual can work together to get support.Â Â You canÂ readÂ Susanâ€™s complete profile atÂ Â profile: Susan’s multilingual family.
“Parents can teach languages to their children at home, with help from tutors, books, videos, and so on, but another important part of the parentsâ€™ job as second-, third-, and fourth-language educators is activismâ€”getting other parents, schools, communities, and the nation at large involved. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
â€¢ Contact your local and state legislators to tell them that you want more extensive second-language offerings in your local public schools. I was recently talking to one of my state senators, and she claimed that she really does listen when she receives a letter or a phone call from a constituent. If two or three people call her to make the same point or request, sheâ€™ll tell her colleagues that the phones are ringing off the hook. So one voice really can make a difference!
â€¢ Talk to librarians at your local public library to suggest that they expand their foreign-language collections or purchase specific items that would be helpful to you and other parents in your community.
â€¢ Get involved with and support existing language-heritage organizations in your community.
â€¢ Build networks of like-minded parents nationally and internationally over the Internet (and through other channels).. If you homeschool your children, you may be able to form a cooperative lesson-exchange group.
â€¢ Start a club or language-tutoring exchange or find a teacher to offer lessons or conversation practice to a small group of children.
â€¢ Even better: start an immersion charter school, private school, or cooperative preschool in your town and then teach others how to do the same. The school doesnâ€™t have to be big or impressiveâ€”especially not at the beginning. You could start with one teacher teaching four or five children three days a week (perhaps in someoneâ€™s house) at the preschool level, for example.”