We don’t let Lulu and Roy watch much TV—maybe an hour on a weekday, two hours or so on Saturday and Sunday. And because I’ve emphasized English TV shows and DVDs from the time they were small, 95% of what they watch is in English, usually programs on the Disney channel. Along with loud, frenetic cartoons, they’re also fans of comedies like “ANT Farm,” “Austin & Ally,” and “Shake It Up.”
Well, the other day we were talking about these shows at dinner, and they were wrestling with the idea that the actors and the characters they play normally have different names. In fact, the whole notion seemed to make Roy so bewildered that it shook his already-shaky foundation for reality.
“Daddy, what about you?” he said, probably seeking reassurance that names were more permanent in the world outside our television set. “You’ve always had the same name, right?”
“When you were little, your name was Daddy?”
The most important thing I can do
In Roy’s eyes, of course, I’ve been Daddy all my life, a figure so big, strong, and wise that I tamed the world long ago.
Never mind that sometimes I still feel like a 5-year-old myself, as overwhelmed by the universe as he is.
The truth is, our planet is evolving so rapidly these days, and faces so many difficult problems, that I wonder how I can helpfully prepare them for the tumultuous years that seemingly lie ahead. Of course, one thing they’ll need—something human beings have always needed to move forward in challenging times—is a spine of perseverance. No matter what sort of lives they might eventually lead, perseverance will be key when it comes to navigating life’s obstacles.
Beyond encouraging this sense of perseverance and other important inner qualities (curiosity, creativity, optimism, gratitude, compassion, and zest for living, to name a few), I think nurturing their English ability is the most important thing I can do to prepare them for the future. After all, English has become a global language for this era, and good English ability will no doubt expand their opportunities, both professionally and personally, in many, many ways.
In the end, I may not hand down much wealth to my kids (I’m like one of those fairy tale fathers who leaves his children a handful of beans or an old donkey), but I do have the chance to bequeath something that will ultimately be far more precious, something that will help them make magic throughout their lives: English.
Also see Why Communicating in English with My Kids is So Important to Me.
Why not French or Spanish? Just as many speak those languages around the world as English.
Ed, your point is well taken, but I guess it depends on the family and their path into the future. For us, English is a language with not only more “personal reach” (since it’s my mother tongue), but more “global reach” (for extended family and the world at large).