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The Spirit of the Bilingual Quest

Hiroshima Ekiden Yesterday was the “Hiroshima Ekiden”—in Japan, an “ekiden” is a relay race, with the teams running the sort of frightful distance that a guy like me would only consider driving on a full tank of gas.

It was a sunny day, and I was weary of this chair, so I took Lulu and Roy downtown to see the start of the race. The area was packed with people, but we managed to claim a spot alongside the road, not far from the starting line. We then waited about thirty minutes, and when the runners finally began striding up the street toward us, I barely had time to snap this picture before they were gone.

Neither my eyes nor my legs have ever been a fan of long-distance running. I used to be pretty fast, mind you, and was even a sprinter on the track team back in junior high school, but whenever the coach told us to run half-a-million laps around the track to warm up, I could be counted on to spend much of that time hiding in the bathroom.

Even today, the mere idea of running a long distance (anything farther than the nearest bus stop) instinctively has me plotting my escape.

It may come as a surprise, then, that in a way, I now feel a real kinship with long-distance runners.

Firmly grounded in spirit

The fact is, this business of raising a bilingual child is a marathon, not a sprint, and reaching the farther goal requires all the desire and determination, all the energy and endurance, demanded of long-distance running. And, like running, where getting from start to finish involves putting one foot after the other, over and over and over again, supporting the long-term language development of a bilingual child is a process that can only be addressed in small, persistent steps, day after day after day.

In either case, there aren’t any shortcuts.

When it comes to raising bilingual children, make no mistake: As important as suitable strategies and techniques are to this quest, they’re ultimately secondary to your desire and determination, your energy and endurance. All the good ideas in the world will be for naught if they’re not firmly grounded in these underlying qualities of spirit.

Because finally that, more than anything else, will be the deciding factor in the degree of your success at the goal you now pursue: your spirit.

Looking for further inspiration? First share this post, then head right to the remarkable story of Venomous Snakes and the Bilingual Child. (You’ll also find many more articles of interest by browsing the inspiration category.)

How about you? How would you rate your own desire and determination, your own energy and endurance?

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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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