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12 Inspiring Real-Life Stories of Bilingual and Multilingual Families

February 1, 2018

12 Inspiring Real-Life Stories of Bilingual and Multilingual Families

In the post Do This One Simple Thing and I Guarantee You Greater Success On Your Bilingual Journey, I talked at length about how establishing and sustaining a habit of writing about your experience on a regular basis can be an especially powerful way of fortifying your efforts and your progress on this bilingual or multilingual quest. (While also producing a valuable written record of your family’s experience for the future.)

In that post, I wrote…

When it comes to my personal efforts to raise bilingual children, this writing routine is the single most powerful part of the whole equation, the very foundation of my experience which gives greater fuel to all the other actions I take, day after day after day. In fact, this central aspect of my bilingual journey has been the bedrock for these profound benefits:

I’m able to reflect deeply and continuously on the subject of raising bilingual children in general, and on my own children (and students) in particular.

I’m able to remain conscious and proactive in my daily efforts, despite the many other elements of my life competing for my time and attention.

I’m able to effectively address my challenges as they arise, overcoming the inevitable struggles and frustrations with persistence and playfulness.

These, you see, are the very qualities needed to maximize success at raising bilingual children and they’re available to us all, in abundance, by pursuing this one simple action. But even when the payoff for just a little time and energy is so great, I suspect there are many parents who don’t really seize this opportunity.

Then I go on to say…

You simply sit down with your notebook or mobile phone or computer and quietly pour out your thoughts and feelings about raising bilingual children (in any language you prefer): your hopes and dreams, your ideas and plans, your challenges and struggles, your frustrations and disappointments, your successes and joys.

You write about your bilingual journey, on an ongoing basis (let’s say at least once a week), throughout the childhood years. And if you do—in whatever form you choose—I guarantee that you will strengthen those key qualities I’ve described, which, in turn, will strengthen your children’s language development.

Please don’t misunderstand—I’m not suggesting that you have to write about your bilingual journey in order to experience success and achieve the bilingual aim you hold for your children. But I think it’s fair to say that making a regular habit of writing about your experience has the potential to empower your daily efforts and enable your children to reach even greater heights of bilingual ability during childhood.

So today I’d like to point you to some specific examples of parents who are pursuing this very idea right now, and their commitment to regularly writing about their experience is clearly benefiting their bilingual or multilingual aim. In fact, their willingness to share their experience with the world, in real time, is also benefiting other parents as well, who can gain ideas and encouragement from their stories.

Track Your Progress

When I created The Bilingual Zoo forum in 2014, as a free worldwide community where parents could come together to lend support to one another, I wanted one section of the site to offer this opportunity for parents to write about their experience and interact with others about it. That section became the forum board titled Track Your Progress.

Of course, you needn’t share your story publicly to benefit from the practice of writing regularly about your experience. A private notebook or blog can still serve this purpose well and may better suit you and your family. At the same time, there’s naturally additional value when, as at the Track Your Progress board, that writing takes place more publicly:

  1. Stating our objectives to others can help strengthen our commitment and efforts toward realizing those goals.
  2. Feedback from others can help us overcome difficulties, gain promising suggestions, and maintain our motivation.
  3. And, as I’ve noted, readers of these real-life stories can come away with helpful ideas and encouragement for their own efforts.

Basic principles for success

In that light, let me now share with you some of the most active writers at the Track Your Progress board since The Bilingual Zoo was born. To me, their ongoing experiences are real-time case studies of how strong, steady progress is made at the bilingual aim, day by day, over the months and years of childhood. And though each writer’s circumstances and challenges are unique, their stories all evoke the same basic principles for success, such as:

Stay mindful and proactive

Make the most of each day

Books and reading are the bedrock for strong language and literacy ability

Persistent efforts add up over time

Obstacles can be overcome with determination and resourcefulness

Perseverance eventually produces the desired pay-off

Playfulness and joy are essential aspects of this experience, too

I hope you find their stories as insightful and inspiring as I do. And I thank them all for sharing their lives with us so generously.

Amy in France
Children: 2 daughters
Languages: French, Spanish, English

Nellie in France (originally from Australia)
Children: 1 daughter and 1 son
Languages: French, English, Spanish

Undraa in Denmark (originally from Mongolia)
Children: 2 sons
Languages: Danish, Mongolian

Marie in the UK (originally from the USA)
Children: 1 daughter and 1 son
Languages: English, French

Raquel in Spain
Children: 1 daughter and 1 son
Languages: Spanish, English

Dave in Spain (originally from the UK)
Children: 2 daughters
Languages: Spanish, English, German

Joanna in France (originally from Canada)
Children: 1 daughter
Languages: French, English

Mayken in France (originally from Germany)
Children: 1 daughter
Languages: French, German

Patricia in Germany (originally from Canada)
Children: 2 daughters
Languages: German, English

Carrie in the USA
Children: 4 kids
Languages: English, Spanish

Karina in the USA
Children: 1 daughter
Languages: English, Spanish

Nikoya in Japan (originally from India)
Children: 1 daughter and 1 son
Languages: Japanese, English

Up for this writing challenge? Get started today with Challenge #7: Write About Your Bilingual Journey at The Bilingual Zoo.

How about you? Are you writing about your bilingual journey in some form? If not, why not begin now?

1 Raquel February 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm

Thanks for this article, Adam!

Track Your Progress is one of my favorite boards because of all the great ideas I get from other people’s threads…and through all the feedback on my own.

This is one of the challenges you posted that I underestimated. I thought it wasn’t for me, but it’s true that it helps with keeping bilingualism always on your mind, thinking of how you can improve things and getting new ideas from others. You may even help others just by sharing what you’re doing and whether or not it’s working.

It’s also nice to go back after a while and see what your kids were doing at a certain age.

Reply

2 Adam February 2, 2018 at 9:48 am

Raquel, this board is a favorite of mine, too, and one of the main reasons is that these threads (including yours!) enable us to see, quite clearly, how real families are making real progress over time by overcoming their everyday challenges through mindful and proactive efforts. In this way, I think these written records of the experience, by parents right in the trenches today, can be deeply empowering for both the writer and the reader.

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