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Maintain This Key Mindset for Bilingual Success (And That Wasn’t Me Asking My Daughter for Cigarettes)

Maintain This Key Mindset for Bilingual Success

Last month my daughter was 6. Next month she’ll be 19.

Now, factually, I know this isn’t true, but it certainly feels that way. As mindful as I tried to be when it came to the passing of time, day by day, in the end my kids have still grown into young adults much faster than I ever imagined.

Today let me emphasize this key idea by sharing a few journal entries from a little 6-year-old girl, written years ago when she was in first grade in Japanese primary school. Each journal entry actually covers two or three pages in the notebook, but I’ll simply present the first page and then offer an English translation of the full entry.

Maintain This Key Mindset for Bilingual Success


I played in the mud with Yumie and Fumie and Eiji. We got some big rocks and made a path to walk across the stream. Yumie was walking on the rocks, but she fell into the water. We all laughed.

After that, we went into the stream, barefoot, and we saw a frog. We followed the frog and the mud was gooey. Then the frog croaked. It was so funny.

Maintain This Key Mindset for Bilingual Success


“I’m home!” I said as I opened the front door. My mother was pumping her sewing machine with her foot.

“Welcome back,” she said, still pumping away. “Now do your homework.”

I started reading to her in a loud voice. “You made a mistake,” she said. How annoying, I thought. She wasn’t even looking at the book. How could she know?

Maintain This Key Mindset for Bilingual Success


I rode the bus home with Mayumi. When I was on the bus, I looked out the window at the sky and saw a cloud that looked like a rabbit. Then I closed my eyes and everything was dark—I couldn’t see anything. When I opened my eyes again and looked back at the cloud, the rabbit’s head was cut off.

Maintain This Key Mindset for Bilingual Success


I was watching TV and my father said, “Go buy some cigarettes for me.” He gave me some money and I left for the shop, running and walking and skipping. When I was crossing the street, I saw Chikada-sensei. I passed him and said, “Sayonara.”

When I got to the shop, I went in but nobody was there. “Hello, is anybody here?” I said. But nobody came out and I felt sad. Then I turned around and went back home.

Heed this fundamental fact

Now, before I get chastised in the comments below for sending my 6-year-old daughter to the store to buy cigarettes for me, let me clarify that I didn’t actually make that request. In fact, I’ve never been a smoker in my life.

The truth is, my daughter didn’t even write these journal entries. Yes, they’re real, and they were written by a 6-year-old girl, but they were written long before my daughter was born.

The 6-year-old girl I was referring to is my wife, who kept this journal during her days as a first grader in Japan nearly 50 years ago.

You see, that’s how quickly time actually passes. Your children’s childhood will pass in the very same blink that your childhood passed.

Last week you were a 4-year-old girl, dashing away from your mother’s grasp…and this week you’re a 40-year-old mother, chasing after your fleeing 4-year-old daughter.

Is raising a child with good bilingual ability important to you? If it is—if it’s truly important to you—then I urge you to heed this fundamental fact of life and make the most of every new day before the years rapidly flash by. Maintain the key mindset that progress is a process of day-to-day efforts, and the more you can realistically do each day, the more progress you’ll likely produce over the years of childhood.

And if you’re not moving forward in the way you want, don’t just sit there spinning your wheels. Take action today to get back on track.

How about you? What more can you do to create stronger momentum and greater progress?

4 Responses

  1. Hi Adam,

    What a lovely post! It reminded me of my own journey of learning English as a young girl in China and now trying to raise up two bilingual boys here in the UK. I first came across your book through our common friend Josh Selig. I enjoyed reading it very much and trying to following some of the advice at home with my older son who is four. I just had a two months old newborn baby and hope he can follow the same path. I’ve shared my experience plus your book/blog in a recent interview post on Asian Books Review.

    1. Hello Alicia! Any friend of Josh is a friend of mine!

      Thanks so much for your kind comment and for sharing the link to your interview with Nicky. I read it with interest and I applaud all the good work you’re doing.

      As for your bilingual journey with your children, I wish you much success and joy as your adventure continues. (Congratulations on the new baby!) I’m glad you found my book useful and please don’t hesitate to reach out directly if I can ever be of more personal support. Keep up your proactive efforts to support their Chinese side, day by day! I’m cheering for you! :mrgreen:

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Welcome to Bilingual Monkeys!

I’m Adam Beck, the founder of this blog and The Bilingual Zoo, a lively worldwide forum for parents raising bilingual or multilingual kids. I’m also the author of the popular books Maximize Your Child’s Bilingual Ability and Bilingual Success Stories Around the World. I’ve been an educator and writer in this field for 25 years as well as the parent of two bilingual children, now 19 and 16. I hope my work can help empower the success of your bilingual journey.

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