We spent the last week of 2018 in Singapore, a long-overdue family vacation. (That’s me in the photo, licking chilli crab off my fingers.) We had a warm, wonderful week there—Singapore is such a lively multicultural and multilingual place—and it was hard to return to cold Japan and resume our “real lives” here.
Among the busy days of sightseeing, we also had the chance to meet up with a family that I became friends with through this blog. It was actually the second time we met because they first paid a visit to our home in Hiroshima when they were living here. That was nearly four years ago, when their son was just one, and now he’s five and has become a very talkative bilingual boy (English and Mandarin) while making steady progress in his third language (Japanese), too.
Honestly, one of the very best things about running this blog, and my forum, has been the opportunity to connect with kindred spirits who are also on bilingual or multilingual journeys. And because this aim is so central to our lives—it’s such a heartfelt part of who we are—these connections often feel deeper than other friendships, and this is true even when our interactions are solely online.
However, one of my high hopes for 2019 is that I’ll be able to travel to other parts of the world and meet more of you in person. In fact, I’m now scheming to make this happen so please stay tuned and I’ll share more about this when I’m ready to reveal my plans.
The “5 P’s”
For the moment, though, let me just offer a simple message for the new year. We can call them the “5 P’s” for bilingual or multilingual success.
Daily persistence through mindful, proactive efforts is what generates ample language exposure on a regular basis. Always remember: the fuel for the engine of language acquisition is rich language input from as many angles as possible.
Persistence without sufficient playfulness can make our efforts feel too “serious,” too “heavy,” for both parent and child. Not only does playfulness engage children in our efforts more easily and effectively, it also produces greater joy in the journey itself.
Language development in children is an incremental process best measured in months and years, not days and weeks. Four years ago, my friend’s son in Singapore could only babble, but by the time we met again the other day, he had become a super-cute chatterbox.
Hand in hand with daily persistence is the need to sustain long-term perseverance. The bilingual journey is a marathon, not a sprint, and we must be prepared to take the long view of our aim and stay resolved to press on with our efforts for the full length of the childhood years.
Happy progress is the guaranteed fruit of persistence, playfulness, patience, and perseverance. As long as we keep at it, day by day, we will experience satisfying success over the larger arc of our bilingual or multilingual adventure.
You’re not alone
So at those lower moments of your journey, just remember these “5 P’s” and remember, too, that your spirit will always be strong enough to cope with your challenges and carry you onward for another day.
And finally, remember that you’re not alone. I’m with you on this journey, and I want you to succeed. If you ever need a helping hand, don’t hesitate to reach out to me—through this blog, through my forum, through email—and I’ll respond with warm words of advice and encouragement.
Friends, let’s make the most of 2019! I hope to hear good news from you this year—and maybe even hear that good news in person when I meet you and your family!
In a mood for making resolutions? See these previous posts…