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Make History. Raise a Bilingual Child.

Those privileged to touch the lives of children should constantly be aware that their impact on a single child may affect a multitude of others a thousands years from now. —Unknown

I thought of this wise quote last weekend when we visited a place called Iwami Ginzan, the site of an old silver mine in Shimane Prefecture, about three hours by car from Hiroshima.

Once called “The Silver Mine Kingdom,” Iwami Ginzan was the largest silver mine in Japanese history. From 1526 to 1923—nearly 400 years—it was one of the world’s most prominent silver mines, producing, at its peak, around one-third of the world’s silver. In 2007, the mine and its environs became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Entrance to old mine shaft

Entrance to old mine shaft

The 400-year history of Iwami Ginzan is present wherever you turn: in the old mine shafts, riddled with digging; in the crumbling temples which dot the local woods; in the small town with its homes and buildings, as if frozen in time from days long ago.

Steps to an old temple

Crumbling stone steps

Old temple

Mossy stone lantern, with poisonous spiders crawling on it (really!)

Old mining town

Old mining town

As we explored Iwami Ginzan by bicycle and on foot, I couldn’t help imagining the lives that were lived during those 400 years, the many generations of miners and their families who were born here, raised here, played here, worked here, married here, had children here, grew old here, died here.

Riding bikes past a rice field

Exploring on foot

Path leading to the ruins of a temple

Steps to the temple ruins

Trees rise on the old temple grounds.

Old gravestone

Four hundred years from now, after all of us are gone and no trace of this blog remains, what will be left behind? The fact is, even many generations later, it’s very possible that the efforts we’re making today to foster bilingual children will still be felt in the distant future, in the lives and language ability of the descendants we’ll never see.

Want to make history? Raise a bilingual child.

How about you? Any places in your part of the world that get you thinking about the wider sweep of history?


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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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