I "met" families who were bilingual, trilingual, and more; families who adopted children from other countries and want to keep the kids' birth culture and language in their lives; families who really focused on sign language with their babies; parents who were teaching themselves a foreign language as their older children studied it; even an uncle in America trying to teach English to his niece in Thailand via Skype! The answers were frequently fascinating, and they gave me all sorts of wonderful ideas of what to do with Carl, and later, Griffin. And I have kept in touch with some of them and been able to see their kids grow and change. Very cool.
Here are a few profiles that have in particular stuck with me: Santi's family (English, French, & Indonesian), Nadine's family (German & English), Boca Beth's family (Spanish & English), Liza's family (English & Hebrew), Carolyn's family (English, French, & Spanish), Jeanne's family (English, German, Spanish, & Swedish), and Alice's family (English, German, Spanish, & Korean), (You can also click on the label "profiles" below or in the sidebar and see all twenty-some in order.)
But for no particular reason (lassitude? inertia? laziness? feeling like my brain was "full"? the lack of time with a baby around? the thrill of gazing into a sleeping child's face or making a toddler laugh?), I stopped posting these profiles of bilingual and multilingual families. Well, now it's time to bring them back! Now that Griffin really is learning two languages, I need your advice more than ever. Plus, I really want to hear what the parents might have to say now, two or three years later. I'm hoping to revisit some of the same families. (Smashedpea, you're up next!)
But first, I want everyone's opinion on what questions to ask to begin with. Here are the questions I have asked in the past:
- What languages are you exposing your children to, and how?
- Why do you want your children to know more than one language?
- How well do your children understand, speak, read, and write the different languages? How do they feel about them? Do they have a preference for what they speak in which contexts? How has their language use evolved as they grow?
- How have you been able to expose your child to the culture(s) where the different languages are spoken?
- What challenges have occurred as you raise your children with more than one language??
- What resources and activities have been most useful to you? What, on the other hand, has not been useful?
- What do you think parents, caretakers, teachers, and/or researchers need to know about teaching a second language to children? What do you wish you had known when you started? What, if anything, would you do differently now?
- Answer your own question now--what did I not ask about that you would like to comment on?
Based on what you all would like to hear, would you make any recommendations for changes, deletions, or additions to these questions? And would you be willing to let me profile your family on this blog? Please let me know in the comments (and then email me at babybilingual (at) gmail (dot) com so I can send you the file with the questionnaire). Thanks!