Today’s blog post is part of a language learning moms blog carnival. These post are written by moms, for moms and are intended to be a great resource of encouragement, advice, tips and ideas for language learning moms. If you’re a mom or if you know a mom who is a language learner or who would like to be a language learner, please enjoy this post, share it with others and visit the other participating bloggers via the links at the bottom of this post.
And today’s post at EDLL is a guest post written by my amazing wife and mother of two, Consuelo.
When our family moved to Turkey, our children were 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 years old. I had been staying at home with them in the States and continued to do so in Turkey. My goal was to learn the language and still continue to be an engaged stay at home mom. I didn’t realize I was taking on a part time job . Living in Turkey was a natural motivator because I really needed the language to function: to get from one place to another, to buy groceries, to make new friends. I knew it would take intentional study and practice to make the kind of progress I needed to do more than just function but to thrive. I’d like to share with you some of the decisions we made that made language learning work for me and our family as well as some reflections on the process from day one to today.
When we first moved here I was conscious of both what it would take to learn the language and also what our kids needed to adjust well. Wanting to keep the kids at home we found a private Turkish tutor to come to our home and work with me on Turkish as well as an amazing Turkish “nanny” who came to our home 8-12 hours a week just to play with the kids and interact with them in Turkish.
Having these ladies in our home allowed the kids and me to get some great help with the language without me having to take a class or put the kids in school. The nanny was especially helpful to me as a mom because I learned by watching her a little more about the language used with kids in different settings.
This route isn’t for everyone, but overall it worked for us.
Our son’s Turkish thrived in the safe setting of home and a lot of exposure to Turkish. Our daughter on the other hand didn’t really take off in language until a year and a half later when she went to school and had lots of friends her age to speak with. Her social personality made school a good fit for her. Our son’s more introverted personality made a safe “home setting” ideal for his learning the language.
It was helpful for me to try different things concerning our kids’ language learning. They both had different learning styles and personalities. My needing to be flexible with them helped me to try different things too.
As for myself, the overriding constants in my success with the language were both the investment of time in intentional activities to learn and to just keep plugging away. It felt like a tight juggling act at times and though I often grew weary of the effort, I also was growing weary of not being able to speak well. There is no such thing as “checking out” of language when you live in it because you are constantly aware of yourself as a learner, either by your felt progress or lack of it. It can be easy to feel and even stay discouraged when you can’t speak well. But being a mom gives you an extra motivational factor. After failing at communicating something important to my child’s preschool teacher, I was more determined than ever to learn how to say it because I loved my child and wanted to be competent in the language to help them. Failure doesn’t have to stay at failure, it can often times be the motivator that leads you to success and improvement the next time.
I haven’t yet mastered the language but I have gotten past the initial pain of starting from the beginning. The more you know in a language the more enjoyable the learning process gets. So though I am no longer using all my mental energy to understand and be understood and am no longer studying late into the night, I’m just as much a learner as I was on day one. Now I am finding my biggest challenge to be cleaning up my habitual errors and expanding my vocabulary. I’m finding pushing forward to be just as hard as starting out. Every forward motion takes effort and so effort is always a good place to start.
There are rewards to hard work in language learning. Sticking with it is key, no matter how slow the progress seems at times.
Baby steps or flying leaps – they’re both forward motion.
Be sure and check out these other great posts written by moms for moms:
Motherhood & Language Learning: An Attempt to Reach the Lower Level of Babel at Multilingual Living
7 Tips to Learn a New Language as a Mom at Early Languages
The Lazy Expat Mom’s Guide to Language Learning at I Was An Expat Wife
Learning Spanish Language: McMom’s Happy Meal at Your Language Guide
10 Tips to learning a New Language and Surviving it Mentally at Rachel’s Rantings
Language Learning Carnival at Sahm Sisters
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"Aaron consistenly pumps out top quality language learning advice and motivational posts,
and is probably one of the best sources of encouragement you'll come across."
-Donovan Nagel, The Mezzofanti Guild