Friday, March 15, 2013

What Multilingualism Really Looks Like

We have a system. To successfully pass on your languages it is really best to have a system, and our system works.

But it's also important to be flexible, okay, and that is how I'm explaining how we found ourselves in the following situation this week:

Apo reading a book in English to K on one couch while I read a book in Slovak to M on the other.

That's what multilingualism looks like in our house!


Apo and I also spontaneously forgot how to speak our own languages while out on a walk last week: I spoke to K in Czech and claimed to know no English while Apo insisted he actually ONLY spoke English. Gave K a big fit of the giggles.


This week K picked up a book and started reading. She read several words / a sentence or two out of a couple of books, including from one Czech book. That was a little more challenging as I have been focusing on English only, so she didn't know how to sound out all the words - but she managed it. I told her that reading Czech is actually pretty easy compared to reading English, because each letter has only one sound.

Then I suggested that she find a Dr. Seuss book, as that might be easier to read. She got One Fish, Two Fish and read about 10 pages before I asked if she wanted to stop and finish later. "No!" she said, "I want to read it all! And then all of M's books and my books!"

Dr. Seuss is challenging but not impossible for her, since we have not had all the letter combinations and such from our 100 Lessons book. It is supposed to finish at about a 1st grade level, so I had planned to read Dr. Seuss after finishing the lesson book, but K had other ideas it seems.

Later that day she told me, "I can't believe I read that book on my own!!"

She has also started picking words to read out of chapter books (or my Kindle), such as HARRY POTTER or FARMER BOY (titles at the top of each page) from the books we were reading together, or finding some of the words she recognizes from her lessons. I think it is exciting for her to see that what she is learning in her lessons can be applied in the real world.

Then yesterday I read a Charlie and Lola book to K and M, the one where Lola is scared about starting school. After we finished, I said,

"Lola was nervous about going to school, wasn't she? Do you remember when you were nervous about starting big kid school?"
"Yeah, I was scared about it."
"Are you still scared about it or do you think it's going to be ok?"
"I think it's going to be ok now."
"Because you thought you couldn't learn to read. But you caaaaan!"
(self-satisfied nod and grin)

And THAT is why I'm teaching the child to read.


  1. that's great! We are going the opposite direction with our kids in teaching reading in English because French and English are soooo different.
    It's also nice to hear how multilingualism works in other houses because you can't often compare your own system to another working system. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Glad the reading is going so well, it's lovely when they start to have some fun with it, my son now loves to read out the names of shops, ie 'That shop's called Coca-Cola!' erm... close ;-)

  3. I know what you mean, Reb. I'm always curious how it works for other people but don't get a look in often except for on blogs :)

    Tallulah, my daughter is starting to do the same thing. Shops, road signs, words on's definitely a very sweet phase. I love that it is less frustrating for her now.



Related Posts with Thumbnails